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GAME PREVIEW: Utah State vs. Wyoming

GAME PREVIEW: Utah State vs. Wyoming

By Justin McKissick, KSL.com Contributor | Posted - Oct. 6, 2011 at 3:25 p.m.



This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.

LOGAN -- Utah State had yet another statistically impressive game against Brigham Young, but fell short again with just 11 seconds to play.

Junior running back Robert Turbin ran for over 100 yards for the third time this season and scored twice, once through the air and once on the ground, while senior Michael Smith added an additional 85 yards on the ground. Turbin has scored at least twice in every game this season. True-freshman quarterback Chuckie Keeton threw for 122 yards on 13-25 passing and two scores. The Aggies turn their attention now to the Wyoming Cowboys, who are coming off their first loss of the season at the hands of the ninth ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers.

The Cowboys have also been impressive offensively this season both passing and running the ball, averaging 241.3 yards and 204.3 yards respectively. The Aggies on the other hand have been averaging 156.0 yards per game passing and 307.5 yards on the ground per game (which is ranked fifth in the nation).

While Utah State has been on the short end of the stick in close games, Wyoming has found a way to pull out wins in close games. Both teams like to score and have had a difficult time stopping other teams from scoring so far this season, look for USU head coach Gary Andersen to let his offensive weapons go and put plenty of points on the board to win the game.

What did we learn about USU against BYU? Robert Turbin is a NFL caliber running back. Standing at 5-feet 10-inches, 216 lbs., the junior from Fremont, Calif. has shown he can run on tough defenses keyed in on stopping him. Against BYU, Turbin rushed for 123 yards on just nine carries, including an 80-yard touchdown scamper on the first play from scrimmage.

The Cougars are no slouches against the run either. With the obvious exception of the Utah game, BYU hasn't allowed a 100-yard rusher all season (the Utes, of course, racked up 242 yards rushing including 174 yards from junior John White IV). Turbin has 488 yards rushing on the season, averaging 6.7 yards per carry and has run for nine touchdowns (which puts his tied for fifth in the nation).

It did seem odd that Turbin touched the ball so few times. With the two catches out of the backfield, Turbin was given the ball only eleven times and scored on two of those touches. Considering the Aggies loss came with only eleven seconds left on the clock, Aggie faithful must ask what might have happened if Turbin had two-to-three more touches.

What questions do we have about USU? Looking at the game statistically, Utah State had a good game. Keeton threw for 122 yards and two scores, while the Aggies rushed for 284 yards on the ground. While stats can show how well USU played, it also shows where they need to improve. Utah State had 406 total yards, but gave up 451.

USU won the turnover battle 0-1 (forcing a a late fumble that seemed to seal the win), but with the Aggies not able to gain a first down in a critical moment in the game, BYU took the ball 96 yards for the win. Overall Utah State gained 18 first-downs to the Cougars 29.

Another large difference in the game was the Time-of-Possession; USU had the ball for 25:47, but were on defense for 34:13 seconds. The Aggies have a very good defense, but that is a long time for them to be on the field. A question the Aggies need to answer now is, can they stay on offense long enough to win?

What can USU expect from Wyoming? The Cowboys have been balanced all season on offense and Coach Andersen and his staff should expect nothing less. Wyoming also has a true-freshman at quarterback in Brett Smith, who has thrown for 963 yards on the season and a touchdown-to-interception ratio of seven-to-four. Smith has also rushed for 156 yards on the ground including three scores. The duel-threat quarterback has been a problem for the Aggies this season.

While the Cowboys have not one running back who has rushed for more then 220 yards on the season, the combined effort of the Cowboys backfield has rushed for 817 yards and nine scores. The Utah State defense will need to be on their toes and look for Coach Andersen to keep his offense on the field longer against Wyoming to keep his defense rested and aggressive.

What can we expect from USU vs. Wyoming? After two last-minute, heartbreaking defeats, the Aggies need a chance to run lose as they did against Weber State. Look for Turbin to get many more touches and have yet another career day. Look for Coach Andersen to blitz the freshman quarterback Smith into bad decisions and allow his stud linebacking core to make big plays.

Miscellaneous:

  • The meeting between Utah State and Wyoming will mark the first time the two teams have met since 2007 and the first time since 2003 that the Aggies have hosted the Cowboys in Logan.
  • Senior linebacker Bobby Wager and junior running backs Robert Turbin and Kerwynn Williams are all candidates for post-season awards:
    • Wagner:
      • Butkus Award - nation's top linebacker
      • Bronko Nagurski Award - nation's best defensive player
      • Lowe'w Senior CLASS Award - athletes who excel both on and off the field
    • Turbin:
      • Doak Walker Award - honoring the nation's top college running back
    • Williams:
      • Paul Hornung Award - most versatile player

Conclusion: The Aggies need a win just as badly as they want a win. Utah State still has a chance to turn the season around and potentially win the WAC. USU has yet to start their conference schedule and will do so after this week against Wyoming. The Aggies first conference game will be at Fresno State. Coach Andersen will need to find a way to motivate his team for all sixty minutes and then for the following seven games of the season. He will need to do so for Aggie faithful to have a positive look at this season.

Email: onlinesports@ksl.com

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Justin McKissick

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