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LOGAN — Utah State head football coach Gary Andersen currently holds the best record in the state of Utah. At 6-2 (2-0 WAC) Andersen has his team squarely where he wants them, bowl eligible and first place in the WAC with a full slate of conference games to go.
The Aggies are coming off a commanding victory in which they dropped the Aggies of New Mexico State 41-7, racking up 516 yards of total offense behind the impressive performance of their sophomore quarterback Chuckie Keeton. The second-year signal-caller threw for two touchdowns on 16-26 passing and 257 yards. Not only was Keeton vicious with his arm, his legs accounted for two TDs as well, running for 81 yards on just seven carries.
Andersen and his Aggies are now bowl eligible for the second year in a row. Utah State has been stifling on defense all year, allowing just 13.9 points per game, and is fourth in the nation in sacks per game with 3.75 and a total of 30.
What Utah State needs now is what it is going to get: a few games to tighten the screws on a few things, get healthy and prepare for the showdown with Louisiana Tech. That’s not to say that UTSA or Texas State aren’t good football teams, but Utah State should be able to get by both of them (pacing the Aggies for one of, if not the, best season in USU history) and head into Ruston with WAC championship implications.
Whether it is good or bad for the Aggies, the Roadrunners (5-2, 1-1 WAC) have what the Aggies need to prepare: a good offensive scheme and solid linebacking and defensive back core.
Andersen said of the upcoming match-up, “what I see is an offense that does a great job of using the whole field with their wide receivers, with their running backs, with their quarterbacks, with their scheme. … It's a difficult offense to prepare for from a scheme standpoint.”
Roadrunner starting quarterback Eric Soza appears to be out with an injury, and redshirt freshman Ryan Polite will be starting in his place. In last week’s start against San Jose State, Polite threw for a school-record 302 yards. Don’t expect much of a drop off this week against the Aggies, either.
Senior linebacker Brandon Reeves leads the Roadrunners in tackles with 55 on the season. Reeves is followed closely by sophomore safety Triston Wade with 44 tackles. This shouldn’t be much of a problem for the tandem of quarterback Keeton and senior running back Kerwynn Williams.
This is just the sort of defense the Aggie front line needs to get back into shape and build confidence. The Roadrunners are a solid front with many different looks but not high on talent. Look for the USU offensive line to open up holes and give the passing game plenty of time.
The Roadrunners are no pushovers, but the way the Aggies have been playing this season, this should be win number seven for Utah State as it marches to the showdown with Louisiana Tech.
Justin McKissick is a ksl.com contributor originally from the San Francisco Bay area. He has been covering USU sports since 2011. Follow him on Twitter: @justin_sr.