In what could be the final time these two teams play in Logan, the Utah State Aggies made sure everyone would remember with a shocking 27-20 overtime victory over the favored Utah Utes. Here are five thoughts on the game:
1. Utah State coach Gary Andersen and his coaching staff schooled Kyle Whittingham. Whittingham admitted as much after the game and it was clearly obvious. The Aggies schemed an offensive and defensive game plan to take advantage of their strengths and to minimize the Utes advantages. As we predicted, USU quarterback Chuckie Keeton was the equalizer as Andersen and his first year offensive coordinator Matt Wells utilized his feet to regularly roll away from the Utes defensive front along with the quick, short passing game. Defensively Utah’s ego got the best of them as they started the game with their defensive linemen in attack mode. It was only later after Keeton had success that they adjusted their defensive ends by keeping them in their lanes and more in contain mode. The Aggies defensive game plan to stop the run first and show different looks in bringing pressure not only confused the Utes offensive line but clearly first year OC Brian Johnson as well. He couldn’t make the right adjustments and his playcalling overall was subpar at best. The amount of end arounds he called was very Andy Ludwigesque.
2. Keeton has the makings to become a very special college football quarterback. He is clearly the best QB in the state of Utah and the way he managed the game looked more like a senior than a sophomore. With his ability to run and throw combined with his decision making, poise, heart and leadership this kid can go down as the greatest quarterback in Utah State football history.
3. Some Utah fans after the game took to Twitter to complain about the offensive pass interference penalty on Jake Murphy in overtime that shouldn’t have been called and the PI that could have been flagged on USU on the final play of OT. Look, it doesn’t matter. The fact is Utah should never have been in the position where the referee calls could have cost them in the game in the first place. The Utes are a Pac-12 program remember? The Aggies are in the WAC–a league that won’t even exist after this season. They play in a stadium that holds just 25,000 people. The Utes have better facilities, millions of dollars more of resources, and bigger, faster, stronger players. This should never have been a game to begin with. But instead Utah loses which not only is an embarrassment to the program but to the so-called “Conference of Champions” as well. Nationally when college fans see that score they will laugh and immediately demean not only the Utes but the Pac-12 as well and rightfully so.
4. Suddenly for Utah a possible 10-win season has the makings to a similar season as a year ago at best. And the reason? You’re being led again by a Division II quarterback. Jon Hays is back at QB after Jordan Wynn hurt his shoulder–again. Unfortunately for Wynn his career at Utah is over. Even if he recovers he just can’t be relied upon. While Hays showed he had a better arm than Wynn and surprisingly displayed some mobility he still is a Division II quarterback. He can win you games against mediocre Pac-12 teams if the defense plays well but when it comes to the better programs–not so much. That leads us to freshman Travis Wilson. Is he ready? Probably not. But he is the future so considering you’re not going to win the Pac-12 South anyway this year you might as well put him in there and let him learn. That will only help you in the long-term.
5. All the questions we had about the Utes before the season are still huge issues two games into this season. In addition to the quarterback questions, they also don’t have offensive tackles they can rely upon. You know you’re in serious trouble when your shuffling around linemen during a game. That is a sign of desperation. The inexperience of the linebacker corp was also exposed in this game as they regularly missed tackles, were out of position and took bad angles on plays. If the coaching staff couldn’t have figured out these issues after spring ball, fall camp and now two games in are they really going to get this corrected going forward? One has to wonder.