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PROVO — Utah State will travel to Provo this week to take on BYU and to vie for the Old Wagon Wheel. Utah State head coach Matt Wells is familiar with the Cougars as he has played them as player, assistant coach and now as a head coach. Wells commented during Monday’s press conference that the Aggies are preparing for “maybe the best BYU team I’ve seen since I’ve been back at Utah State.”
The last time USU beat BYU was 2010 in Logan. However, the Aggies haven’t had a win in Provo since 1978. The Aggies are well aware of their struggles in Provo and hope to change that this Friday night.
Wells said, “As I look ahead at BYU, I see an extremely talented team. … It’s a typical Bronco Mendenhall defense. They’re very sound and smart. … They’re extremely well-coached. They have long, athletic defensive ends and linebackers as usual. I think those guys understand the scheme and do a good job. They’re very talented.”
Offensively is where they've made the most strides. You've got a guy in Taysom Hill that if he played linebacker, would be on the Bronko Nagurski Trophy Watch List right now. He runs like a tailback and throws like a quarterback. The guy is playing at a high level. I think that every bit of Heisman talk is absolutely deserved.
Both USU and BYU quarterbacks Chuckie Keeton and Taysom Hill are dark horse Heisman candidates. However, Keaton missed the Aggies' last game after injuring his recently repaired knee and is questionable for this week's game.
“We’ll see how Chuckie (Keeton) is early this week. We’ll get him out practicing today and see what’s going on,” Wells said, “I wouldn’t put a number on the reps or anything, we’ll just see how he is. If he can go through practice today and tomorrow, the reps will be close to 50/50. If he can’t go, then he can’t go. We’ll see where he’s at.”
While USU is unsure of its quarterback’s status, Wells is preparing for a powerful Taysom Hill and BYU offense.
“Offensively is where they’ve made the most strides. You’ve got a guy in Taysom Hill that if he played linebacker, would be on the Bronko Nagurski Trophy Watch List right now. He runs like a tailback and throws like a quarterback. The guy is playing at a high level. I think that every bit of Heisman talk is absolutely deserved. … It takes a small army to bring him down. We’ve got a major challenge on our hands to try and be able to slow them down.”
With this game being the only big in-state game this year, Utah State realizes the importance of this game for all involved.
“We’re excited about playing BYU and I promise you our players are too. They’re excited about playing us? Cool. You’ve got a team that’s undefeated and deservedly in the playoff talks. They’re going to have to beat Utah State to do that. Our kids are excited and I don’t have any reason to doubt they will be. It will be a great atmosphere. LaVell Edwards Stadium will be loud and with a national TV audience. It will be fun. It’s a great opportunity for us.”
The Aggies and Cougars play Friday night at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo. Kick-off is set for 8:15 p.m.