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With Utah State fandom wearing all white in the stadium, USU looked to defeat future conference rival, UNLV, in its homecoming game. There were no dresses or tuxedos in the audience, but there was plenty of dancing in the crowd as USU defeated UNLV 35-13 Saturday night.
USU (4-1) trampled over Colorado State last week and then beat another Mountain West Conference foe to make a loud-and-clear statement: The Aggies are coming and they are coming strong.
USU will travel down to Provo to take on in-state rival (and former MWC team) BYU at Lavell Edwards Stadium this coming Friday.
How did USU defeat UNLV? Here are my game day grades for Utah State:
Keeton couldn't really get anything going in the first quarter, passing for 75 yards on six completions. In the second quarter, Keeton finally got in his groove, throwing two touchdown passes and passing for 167 yards. In the third quarter, things got interesting as Keeton threw one interception and kept the game close, only throwing for four yards. The fourth quarter was a much different story (for Keeton and for Utah State's fourth-quarter offense) as he completed three more passes and threw two touchdowns to put the game away and get his team the victory. Keeton needs to work on consistency. Maybe odd numbers aren't his thing. Overall he passed for a career-high 402 yards and completed 61 percent of his passes.
Williams had an explosive encore this week against UNLV, rushing for 116 yards. Although he didn't rush for a touchdown in his efforts, Williams made many notable plays that set up for field goals and touchdowns alike (including a 38-yard run in the third quarter). His forte this night was on the receiving end of the ball (see below).
The receivers were on point tonight as there were seven players with over 10 reception yards. Williams had a tremendous night as a pass-catcher, hauling in seven balls for a total of 147 yards, including a 74-yard touchdown reception. Not to be outdone, Chuck Jacobs had 101 receiving yards and two touchdowns.
The O-line gave Williams a lot of room to run down the middle (hence Williams' great numbers), but the pressure on quarterback Keeton made my grade drop. Because of Keeton's poor choices on passing the ball, an interception was thrown and there was a lot of uncomfortable running outside the pocket. USU needs to protect its quarterback so that Keeton can make smart throws or have comfortable space to show off his legs on the field. Other than the pressure on Keeton, USU's O-line did really well protecting its players.
For a team that is usually meticulous in marching the ball down the field, USU actually had big plays early on in the game to show off some offensive prowess. A 50-yard pass in the second quarter for a touchdown, a 38-yard run by Williams in the third and a fourth-quarter 74-yard touchdown pass capped off an impressive USU victory.
The UNLV quarterback was running around multiple times trying to stay away from this defensive line, but it didn't stop it from sacking him three times for a loss of 23 yards. The running game is where the D-line faltered, allowing 117 yards on the ground. The D-line still kept pressure on the ball and the quarterback, but it watched the runners get through too many times.
Although the first half looked dismal for the linebackers and defensive backs, the second half was a different story. The Aggies only allowed 188 yards of passing offense and had an interception. They swatted some balls out of the air like flies and only allowed UNLV's quarterback to complete 46 percent of his passes.
The Aggies only allowed 13 points with only one touchdown. At the goal line, they held their opponents to two field goals and one touchdown. Oh, and they also forced a safety. Overall, Saturday was a great night for the Aggie defense.
I just gave Utah State an "A" for special teams. That's a season high. This time, it's not a fluke. I'm just going to throw some stats at you: UNLV only had five yards on two punt returns and averaged 17 yards on kickoff returns. USU punted the ball inside the 20 five times and averaged 47.4 yards a punt. The longest punt was by USU's Tyler Bennett, who punted it for 59 yards. Enough said.
Alex Rivera is the Assistant Sports Editor of the UVU Review. You can contact him at email@example.com or through his Twitter account @A_River_Uh