#63 Utah State Football 2013 Preview

Utah State Aggies

Overall Rank: #63
Conference Rank: #5 Mountain West

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Utah State had to exit the Western Athletic Conference, but at least the Aggies did it on a high note. Utah State was only five points away from a perfect season, losing by two to Wisconsin and three to Brigham Young. Otherwise, Utah State ran roughshod over opponents in the WAC and then peeled apart Toledo in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. The Aggies sported an explosive offense toward the second half of last season, and it begs the question of what they can do for an encore in 2013. In an ironic twist, Gary Andersen accepted a coaching job at Wisconsin, one of the teams Utah State lost to, so it is up to new coach Matt Wells to get the job done.

2012 Record: (11-2, 6-0)
2012 Bowl: Famous Idaho Potato Bowl vs. Toledo (W 41-15)
Coach: Matt Wells (0-0 at Utah State, 0-0 Overall)
Offensive Coordinators: Kevin McGiven and Luke Wells
Defensive Coordinator: Todd Orlando

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Chuckie Keeton, RB, 619 yards
Passing: Chuckie Keeton, QB, 3,373 yards
Receiving: Travis Reynolds, WR, 244 yards
Tackles: Jake Doughty, LB, 109
Sacks: Connor Williams, DE, 6.0
Interceptions: Kyler Fackrell, LB, 3

Other Key Returnees: RB Joe Hill, C Tyler Larsen, OL Jamie Markosian, OL Eric Schultz, TE D.J. Tiavalea, OL Kevin Whimpey, OL Kyle Whimpey

Key Losses: WR Matt Austin, TE Kellen Bartlett, WR Chuck Jacobs, RB Kerwynn Williams, FS McKade Brady, CB Will Davis, LB Bojay Filimoeatu, DT Al Lapuaho, P Tyler Bennett

Wells inherits a team that brings back most of its offensive line, which should help protect Keeton when it comes to rushing and passing. Keeton’s arm and legs were a large reason why Utah State cruised to an 11-2 record and came so close to 13-0. Most of the defense returns intact as well, including Jake Doughty, the team’s top tackler. Utah State outscored teams 454-200 last year, including six games in a row of 40 points or more. That is a signature mountain-style offense if ever there was one. Utah State was also adept at scoring rushing touchdowns (30) and not allowing opponents too many scores giving up only six TDs on the ground. The best part is Utah State did all this despite having the ball for four minutes less per game on average.

Keeton will have to find different targets this season as his top five receiving threats all graduated. The frustration factor sets in because four of those receivers each scored five touchdowns, so that’s a lot of offensive weaponry retired from the college ranks. A good chunk of Utah State’s defensive secondary is also gone, so there will be considerable reloading on the Aggies’ part.

The Bottom Line:
Utah State goes from a much easier conference into one that is more difficult. San Diego State, Fresno State and Boise State are ranked above Utah State in the MWC ratings this season.  The good news out of this is the Aggies do not see the two California teams this season as the MWC has 10 teams and there are only seven league games. That could help Utah State gain some traction in the league, but any chance of the Aggies winning the MWC without head-to-head help looks bleak. Utah State may have to settle for a lower finish in 2013 despite a decent squad.

Projected Bowl:  Famous Idaho Potato Bowl

2012 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 204.08 (26th in nation, 2nd in conference)
Passing Offense: 265.00 (40, 3)
Total Offense: 469.08 (21, 2)
Scoring Offense: 34.92 (26, 2)
Rushing Defense: 113.77 (13, 1)
Pass Defense: 208.31 (32, 1)
Total Defense: 322.08 (14, 1)
Scoring Defense: 15.38 (7, 1)
Turnover Margin: -0.08 (63, 3)
Sacks: 3.23 (6, 1)
Sacks Allowed: 1.38 (28, 2)


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