Utah State Aggies Offensive Preview

Douglas C. Pizac-US PRESSWIRE

In 2012, Utah State possessed one of the top 25 offenses in the country. With a new head coach but largely the same personnel, how will they fare in 2013?

Quarterback

Chuckie Keeton is firmly entrenched as Utah State's starting quarterback this season after putting up some phenomenal numbers in 2012. For those who forgot, Keeton managed 3,373 passing yards (67.6 completion percentage), plus 27 scores to just nine interceptions. He also tacked on another 724 rushing yards and eight more touchdowns. Needless to say, he was an absolute monster and despite the departure of head coach Gary Andersen, Keeton's presence means there's still plenty to like when looking at this Aggies' roster. Behind Keeton, Craig Harrison will be handling mop-up duty when called upon, but don't expect to see much of him.

Depth Chart Projection: Keeton | Harrison | Jeff Manning

Running Back

With the departure of leading rusher Kerwynn Williams, the weight of the running game is likely to be put on Keeton early on, but he'll need support. Junior Joe Hill was productive (44 rushes for 271 yards and seven TDs) last year and should be able to step into a more prominent role within the offense. For a change of pace, the Aggies will direct their attention to Robert Marshall, who at 6'0" and 223 pounds should fill the much-needed role of an in-between-the-tackles runner. With Keeton likely rushing between 120-140 times, Hill should see around 200 carries and Marshall will take another 40 or so. If there are any touches left, they'll go to the young Kelvin Lee, who runs similarly to Hill.

Depth Chart Projection: Hill | Marshall | Lee | Rashad Hall

Wide Reciever/Tight End

Utah State undergoes a complete overhaul here, and if there were to be a drop-off in offensive production for this team, it would likely be due to their inexperience at receiver. The top five pass-catchers from last season (four receivers plus Williams) are all gone, so Keeton has to virtually start over, building trust with each and every one of these lesser-used players still on the roster. Of those guys, Travis Reynolds appears most ready to stand out, though he's not exactly a deep threat at just 5'11". That's where Travis Van Leeuwen should come in. His big 6'3" and 195-pound frame is perfect for long ball opportunities and one would assume that's where we'll see him utilized most often. Tight end D.J. Tialevea served mainly as a blocker last year, but there's a chance he'll be utilized more in underneath routes this season. Admittedly, the Aggies are a bit thin at receiver, so it's imperative this group stays healthy -- lest the running game have to carry the entire offensive load.

Depth Chart Projection:

WR-X: Van Leeuwen | Ronald Butler | Ryan Watson

WR-Y: Bruce Natson | Jordan Jenkins

WR-Z: Reynolds | Brandon Swindall | Tyler Fox

TE: Tialavea

Offensive Line

The offensive line returns a ton of experience, losing just one starter (Oscar Molina-Sanchez) from last year's roster. In his place, however, is Kevin Whimpey, a junior with 12 career starts under his belt as well. Every member of the starting five is at least 300 pounds, as are most of the top reserves in the two-deep depth chart. Considering their fleeting success until recently and small local recruiting base, that's no small feat. They'll be the primary push in the running game's success, while also protecting Keeton from taking too many hits. He avoided unnecessary contact a lot last year, thanks to the abilities of his line, and that should very well be the case again this season.

Depth Chart Projection:

RT: Eric Schultz | Jake Simonich

RG: Kyle Whimpey | Sini Tauauve'a

C: Tyler Larsen | Joe Summers

LG: Jamie Markosian | Bryce Walker

LT: Kevin Whimpey | Logan Molohifo'ou

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