Utah State is playing in their second in-state game of the year when they host BYU on Friday night. To get to know some more about BYU we sent over a set of questions to Vanquish the Foe to help us out.
1. Chuckie Keeton is the key for Utah State, so can the BYU front seven, as good as it is, be able to contain Keeton and possibly similar to how USC limited him?
Chuckie has gotten better since last we saw him. He's already racked up a third of his total yardage from last year and increased his completion percentage by a solid 71%. Even his interceptions have dropped considerably. He's playing smarter and better.
That said, our defense did an excellent job of containing him last year. Many on the defensive side of the ball that will play on Friday played in last year's game. I think the defense will rise to the challenge of a better Chuckie Keeton and we'll see similar play to what we saw last year.
2. If Utah State's offensive line is capable of allowing Keeton some time to throw the ball, what is your confidence level in the BYU secondary to be able to make plays?
The Cougar secondary has been a pleasant surprise so far this year. They have stepped up their game and have given up only a few long plays to the teams they have faced. The safeties are the strength of this group as Craig Bills and Daniel Sorensen have proven to be sound defenders and very physical. The defense hasn't left the corners on an Island as much, which has helped limit the big plays, but they have shown that when needed, they can make a play.
Keep up with all of our MWC Coverage
3. Quarterback Taysom Hill has not shown that he is capable of being an accurate passer, what does he or the offense have to do to get him to at least 50 percent passing this week?
Even though the competition was much weaker than what will be faced this week, Hill gave us a glimpse of what he can do when given time and open receivers. His blocking up front is the key. When he has that second to plant his feet, he is much more accurate and his percentage will rise. If the guys up front allow him to be chased out of the pocket to throw, that is where the passing issues will be apparent.
4. How big a deal is getting running back Jamaal Williams back in the lineup even though he is not likely going to carry the ball as often prior to his concussion?
Without a doubt, Williams was missed in the last part of the Utah game and the MTSU game. The leadership that this 18 year old displays with his teammates and the fire that he instills in them is a huge boost to the offense. Even if he only carries the ball twenty times this game, it will be twenty carries less that we have to worry about a turnover.
5. What are the keys for BYU to be able to beat Utah State on Friday night?
The keys for the offense include the front line giving time for Hill to find the open receiver. One way that this could happen is by sending Cody Hoffman and J.D. Falslev on the short cross routes and slants to minimize the time that he has to hold on to the ball and letting Cody use his body to provide a larger target. Hill will also need to make the correct decisions when running or handing off the ball. Against Utah he was tentative at times and ended up either throwing a bad pass or coming up short of the sticks. Against Texas he made the correct read most of the time and ended up torching the defense in the run game.
The defense must find a way to reach Keeton just a little faster than they have the other quarterbacks. They shouldn't expect to get many sacks or loss of yards but if they can rush him out of the pocket but still contain him, they will force him into short yards or make him throw the ball away. If they can keep him to short gains or rushed passes, the secondary has a good chance of keeping up with the receivers.
6. Prediction time, what do you think will happen?
This game is going to be tight, like all games against in-state rivals. USU has Keeton. Keeton will drive the team down the field consistently throughout the game. BYU's got Van Noy. Kyle and his defense will have to make key plays to stop those drives, which he's shown he can do consistently against the toughest teams (keeping each of our losses within just a field goal of tying it up.
As a Cougar that bleeds blue (and I suppose Aggie fans bleed their own shade of blue too), I'm putting my faith in the Cougars to win it: 27-21. It's going to be close though, and it's going to be good.
Both teams almost beat Utah and neither team is looking to lose in-state again. There will be pressure. There will be mistakes on both sides. The team that will win is going to be the team that can keep those mistakes to a minimum.