Utah State Aggies at BYU Cougars
1 Replies | 431 ViewsOn 09/30/2011 08:33 AM in NCAA Football
The Old Wagon Wheel is up for grabs when these programs collide under the Friday night lights.
Run, Robert Run
The Aggies boast the fifth-best rushing offense in college football, behind the quick feet of running back Robert Turbin.
After missing the entire 2010 season due to injuries, Turbin has picked up where he left off in 2009, when he rushed for 1,296 yards – 21st in the nation. This year, he's amassed 365 yards through the first three games and has found the end zone eight times – tied for the fourth most rushing TDs. He scored four of those touchdowns in last week's loss to Colorado State.
"I think he is a great running back. In fact I was just telling our offensive staff I would love to coach him," BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall told KSL.com. "He plays hard and runs physical, runs for power and doesn't back down. He is fun to watch; I really think he is a great player."
The Cougars have struggled against the run this season, allowing more than 138 yards per game. Against Central Florida last week, BYU did a much better job containing the run, allowing only 81 yards on the ground in the 24-17 win.
However, in the 54-10 loss to Utah, the Cougars were bowled over for 242 rushing yards, giving up 6.4 yards per carry. Turbin enters Friday’s game averaging 5.7 yards a run. The Aggies have scored five rushing touchdowns in each of their first three games.
Death from above
Brigham Young was lucky to escape with a win over UCF last week, needing three second-half turnovers from the Knights and a 93-yard kick return touchdown to battle back from 14 points down.
The Cougars were outgained 399-260, with 318 of those UCF gains coming through the air. The secondary wasn’t on the same page, with corners and safeties mixing up assignments. Mendenhall blamed some of the confusion on struggles during training camp but admitted that his pass defenders need to sharpen up heading into Friday.
“We will have to keep improving that, or no matter what size of a lead we might gain, we could be at risk because of the chunks of yardage that could come by not executing over-the-top coverage, which is a bigger part of it than underneath coverage, because of the point potential,” he told the Salt Lake Tribune.
Last season, Utah State opened scoring with a 79-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Diondre Borel to receiver Xavier Martin in the win over BYU. The Aggies finished with just 192 yards through the air.
The Cougars are currently ranked 50th against the pass, giving up 209 yards passing through their first four games.
Fresh meat or Ground Chuck?
Brigham Young's pass rush is licking its chops with freshman quarterback Chuckie Keeton lining up under center for Utah State.
Keeton, who won the starting job over Adam Kennedy, isn’t the main focus of the Aggies offense, which was evident in last week’s 35-34 overtime loss to Colorado State. Keeton passed the ball only 15 times, completing nine of those throws for 86 yards.
"Chuckie struggled a lot making his reads," Aggies head coach Gary Andersen told the media. "College football caught up to him on Saturday."
The lack of a passing threat makes USU’s game plan very predictable, which concerns Andersen. He told reporters he would like to get Keeton more involved in the offense but still has trouble trusting the young pivot.
"That’s the number one priority," Andersen said. "Colorado State came up with a good pass rush and that affected our timing. That’s a concern because BYU is very good at getting pressure on the quarterback. We have to pass block in order to be effective on Friday."
Keeton went 21 for 30 for 213 yards in the Aggies' near upset of Auburn to start the year. Utah State ranks 104 out of 120 FBS programs in passing, averaging just 167 yards per game.
- Under is 4-0 in the last four meetings.
- Home team is 6-1-1 ATS in their last eight meetings.
- Aggies are 4-1-1 ATS in their last six meetings.
- Underdog is 4-1-1 ATS in their last six meetings.