Here’s the the low down:
For Utah State: Chuckie Keeton is really good at quarterback. He can extend plays with his feet, while his vision down the field has improved considerably from last season. Which is why he will throw to anyone on any given pass play. 4 players have at least 15 catches on the young season. He doesn’t put up impressive numbers, but collectively, he fills up an offensive stat sheet. Kerwynn Williams is really good at running back. Together they’re a legit top 10 QB/RB duo and probably one combo that most the nation has never experienced. Next, Logan wants their 15 minutes of the last two decades in the spotlight. A win tonight seals the Beehive Boot to the Aggies. Finally, head coach Gary Andersen just secured a contract extension through 2018 to stay with Utah State. The team can rest assured that the first productive coach in some time will stay and keep improving the Aggies in the coming seasons. Well, either that or Utah State will receive a nice buyout from a team that may come calling for Andersen. Their defense is stout; the only average 14 points a contest and give up just 280 yards per game. They’ll be sure to make BYU pass, and pass a lot given the quarterback situation, and because they’re strong in the front seven. Nearly 300 rushing yards were tallied in their loss to Wisconsin (ran 44 times for 156) and overtime win over Utah (41 rush for 136). In their 3 other wins, they’re giving up just 75 yards a contest.
For BYU, the offense is led by a receiver, Cody Hoffman. But most offenses don’t flow through receivers and ours hasn’t been very efficient at getting the ball to the receivers against quality opponents. Primarily, the qb slot is completely up in the air from hour to hour. From a fans perspective, Taysom Hill is the future QB of BYU, so why not let now be the future? The BYU coaching staff obviously feels there’s something more to play for, especially with 2 top 15 ranked opponents following Utah State. What will Jamaal Williams do for an encore of last week’s performance? He’s most likely not as plugged in to this rivalry as most the others, so how will he rise up to the level of this atmosphere tonight? Being one of the youngest players on the field, he should be accustomed to the late start and have plenty of energy. On the other side, the Cougars defense has been nothing short of impressive all season. Name a guy, Ansah, Fangupo, Kaivenga, Van Noy, Hadley, Sampson, Ogletree…they’re monsters wearing blue and white. They will undoubtedly get their biggest test tonight facing the Aggies. Not because Utah State is bigger, faster or stronger, but because they are the most balanced team BYU has faced to date. And if there is a weak link to the defense, it’s breaking off assignments when plays begin to break down. BYU has had a slight tendency to leave players open in anticipating a QB run. Winning tonight suddenly renews the team and fans, and gives them more of a chance to compete with Oregon State and Notre Dame. But the offense must show they can actually play offense, against a formidable defense. Without it, this becomes a long night for BYU.
I’m expecting a lot of penalties tonight; lots of hostility. Not a great night to show off the religious sides of these teams, if you know what I mean. Utah State coaches, players and fans want this game desperately. BYU coaches, players, and fans want this game equally as much. Utah State needs to come for blood, show their true grit and get the biggest win for this program in years. They’ll do it with the Keeton/Williams show, but Keeton will probably have to pass more than run. However, if they establish the run game and mix in the pass, they could score a bunch, especially in the first half, outscoring opponents 51-0 in the 1st quarter. That would be ideal and virtually force BYU’s offense to keep pace with scoring, which could be a chore, depending on who starts.
For BYU, they need to be effective throwing the football. I said it last week and I’ll say again. Set the qb, Hill or Nelson, in the shotgun with a running back on either side, and let the offense flow from there. They didn’t use that formation all the time against Hawaii, but in my rough calculations, 25 percent of the yardage compiled, plus 2 touchdowns, came from that formation. In my opinion, it puts the quarterback in a much better position physically and psychologically. They can see the field better, know where the pressure is coming from, and know they have extra blocking help if needed. If Brandon Doman won’t do it, then I will and I’ll only do it for $60K for the first year.
For what it’s worth, the line is 7 and there could be a myriad of projections to outcomes for this game. This is where I don’t use logic and go with what my gut tells me. It’s not going to be close either way. It will be more than 10 points to the winner. I feel like, assuming Hill starts, that this cements his status for the rest of the year and he shines tonight. Utah State becomes overmatched by the surprising balance of the Cougar offense and run stagnant as the game progresses against the BYU defense.