The Aggies are entering the weekend 8-2 with two tough losses on the season. They are not ranked but can very well be if they defeat a 9-1 Lousiana Tech team that is currently ranked 20th in the nation. It won't be an easy task as Lousiana Tech showed its offense last weekend, scoring 62 points against Texas State. The Utah State defense is ranked 6th in the nation for points allowed (13.5 a game).
Louisiana Tech head coach Sonny Dykes knows his team has been playing well all season but says it needs to play better entering a game that can very well decide the WAC conference champion.
Utah State will travel to Ruston, La., to take on the Bulldogs Saturday at 2 p.m. MST.
Here is what coach Dykes had to say about Utah State:
On playing Utah State this weekend
“Moving forward, Utah State is a really good football team. When you look at them, they are very solid on special teams. They are really playing lights out defensively and really playing well offensively. When you look at their games, particularly in the last month, they have gotten out to a big lead on everybody, and had a lot of opportunities to play a lot of players.
“They have done a good job of playing well early. It is going to be important for us to get off to a good start and play well for 60 minutes. I think it is going to be a hard-fought, tough football game. That is what we expect, and I am sure we are going to need to play well, take care of the football, get more stops and create some turnovers. I think that is the thing; we have not gotten any turnovers in the last two weeks, and it is something we have to do a better job of doing down the stretch.”
On the importance of the game against USU
“They know. They have known for really the last month where we have been in terms of understanding this is a big football game. I think we probably have not played as well over the last month as we would have liked to in some ways, but I think our guys have known this has been coming for a long time.
“I think we will be excited to play. Anytime the season starts, your first goal is to win a conference championship, and that is true with us. This game is going to be a big determining factor of who wins the conference championship.
“We are going to need to play well. We are going to need to play better than we have been. It is going to need to be one of our best efforts this year to have a chance to win.”
On Utah State defense
“They have really been dominant. If you look at them, they are playing really, really good defense. That is the thing. They are just not giving up many points and drives and yards. They have just been a dominant football team defensively.
“That has allowed them to pull away early in ballgames. You go and watch the film and you look up midway through the second quarter and they are usually ahead 28-0 or 24-0 or 31-0. It seems like they have gotten off to a great start with people and have really been able to hold them off.
“They are just playing well. That is the thing. You can see they are playing with a lot of confidence. They have a lot of leadership on the team. They do things the right way. They are in a great position defensively play after play after play. They have a lot of maturity in that group, and they are just playing at a high level."
On Utah State being the best defense they play this year
“It certainly is statistically. I do not think you can argue with that. I think Texas A&M has a good defense and done some good things, but yeah I would think so. I think this group right here collectively is really, really good. You just look at them, and they are never out of place. Guys are in sync, and they just know how to play good defensive football.”
On USU offense
“This is an 8-2 football team that lost two really tough games to BCS teams really. BYU has a good football team and one of the best defenses in the country. Wisconsin has really played well as of late. Utah State was a play away in both of those games from winning, so they are a good football team, but they are a better team now than when the season started.
“They do a little bit of everything. They run some option and they are a typical team that runs a lot of different things. It is a similar type style to San Antonio a little bit just in the fact that they play very multiple with tight ends, not with tight ends, two backs sometimes and one back.
“It is just a little bit of everything. They have a really good offense and know what they are doing. They are well coached."
On USU's quarterback Chukie Keeton
“The quarterback has really gotten better at playing at a high level. He has always been a guy that can make plays. That is the thing about him is he can run around down on the field and run and get you a first down. What I like about him is he plays with a lot of emotion and confidence. He is doing a lot better job taking care of the football. He was a little reckless at times last year with the ball, and he does not do that this year.
“He takes tremendous care of the ball, and I think that is the biggest part of why their offense has grown and gotten better. They do not turn it over much anymore. He is just a playmaker.
“He is one of those quarterbacks that if you cover him, he takes off and if you rush on him, he will break a tackle or sidestep somebody and run down the field. Those guys are always a pain.”
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.