In addition to the weekly previews that we’ll do to showcase the Cougars match up that week we are going to provide you with an “insider” perspective as well. Each week we’ll ask questions of a blogger for BYU’s opponent that week and post their answers as a post for you to read. We’ll give you some background info and link you to their own site so you can read all the good stuff they are doing while supporting their own teams.
Week 6 – Utah State Aggies
Academically Ineligible: How does Utah State’s offense plan to be successful against BYU’s defense?
Jeremy Mauss: I think Utah State needs to stick to their game plan because they have players in the running game with Kerwynn Williams who is averaging just over 100 yards per game, but that includes 205 against Colorado State and 113 yards against UNLV. However, he is still averaging just less than six yards a carry for the season, plus he is a threat out of the backfield. The real star on offense is quarterback Chuckie Keeton who can throw and run the ball, and he is the real key to Utah State winning. Over the past few years BYU has never faired well against a mobile quarterback, however BYU’s front seven is very good, including their linebacking core.
The weak link on the BYU defense, in my opinion, is their secondary. Yes, that unit is No. 11 in the country, but it is my opinion that they haven’t played a team with a great pass offense so their stats may be a bit inflated. Utah State’s passing game is nothing special, but Keeton has the ability to go off for a big game. Basically, Utah State needs to stay balanced and not allow their offense to become one-dimensional. I think Utah State can move the ball well enough to put up some points, and I’ll say it again, BYU has struggled with a mobile quarterback, so watch out for Keeton who might be able go for a big game.
AI: What are you expecting to see from your defense? Who are you preparing to start for BYU at QB?
JM: The defense needs to keep up their front seven which has held Wisconsin’s Montee Ball and Utah’s John White IV in check. With BYU losing Mike Alisa and the likely starter Jamaal Williams look for the Utah State defense to attack and force whoever the quarterback is to throw the ball. However, we know BYU has some good receivers in Cody Hoffman and when he is thrown the ball, Ross Apo can be a threat. So the secondary must be prepared to go up against hose players.
As for who starts, it doesn’t really matter since Riley Nelson and Taysom Hill are pretty much the same player, so the preparation does not change.
AI: What is the atmosphere like in Logan right now leading up to this game? How badly does Aggie Nation want to win the Beehive Boot?
JM: They really, really want this win. The Aggies came so close last year and BYU got a little luck as the game winning touchdown pass that was tipped and fell into Marcus Matthews’s hands for a touchdown. So, they felt that they really could have won that game and looking for their third straight win over BYU. Having beaten Utah for the first time since 1997 and now a legit chance to beat BYU, everyone is excited. Beating both Utah and BYU who have for long been the top two teams in the state pretty much forever, could be a game changer for the Utah State program.
AI: Give our readers a few names of players, offensively or defensively, to look for in making an impact on the game Friday.
JM: On offense there are two players: quarterback Chuckie Keeton and running back Kerwynn Williams. Keeton is just a play maker and can beat a team through the air like he did against UNLV where he threw for 406 yards and averages about 40 yards a game on the ground. He may not win with his legs for big gains, but he will keep plays alive and get yards if needed. Williams is a versatile back who can catch as well as run well, he averages about four catches per game as well as 100 yards per game on the ground. On defense Zach Vigil averages 7.8 tackles per game, plus he already has 6.5 tackles for loss and three sacks. He is the one player that BYU must stop and not allow him to get in the backfield. McKade Brady compliments Vigil well, as he also averages 7.8 tackles per game, but he does not get to the backfield as often. He just is all over the field and makes plays.
AI: Is Gary Anderson’s name floating around as the next coach anywhere yet and how much longer do you expect he’ll stay in Logan?
JM: I haven’t heard anything specific on location, however I thought Cal could be a good fit since Anderson has been out West for his career, but Jeff Tedford signed a new deal and they might not be able to afford to fire him. His name will definitely be out there for open jobs in the off-season, assuming he can at the very least lead Utah State to a bowl game. I know he likes Utah State, and think he likes it since he has been in Utah for most of his coaching career. So, it may depend on what jobs are open. To put a number on it, I’d say three more years max.
AI: What is your prediction for this game and why do you feel this will be the outcome?
JM: This is an interesting game to pick. I totally think Utah State can win, and the way I see it playing out is that the game will be somewhere in the mid-20s for both teams. I don’t think either defense will play up to their statistics they have been putting up. I just think that Utah State really wants to win this game since how last years game ended, and I just think Utah State has gotten over the hump and will win 24-21. The reason for that is because Utah State’s rush defense will be able to slow down running back Jamaal Williams enough, and that USU quarterback Chuckie Keeton will give BYU fits do to his mobility which will allow him to extend plays.
Thanks again to Jeremy at Mountain West Connection for helping us with this week’s insider report.