BYU Cougars vs. Utah State Aggies Complete Game Preview
BYU and Utah State both put together nationally televised blowout wins last Friday, and will have another chance this week.
However, this Friday will be different. The in-state rivals will be going head-to-head, and will put on a great matchup. BYU has pulled out a narrow victory in each of the last two years against Utah State, but didn't come out on top in their last trip to Logan.
It will be a great game. Here is a complete preview.
BYU's Keys to Victory
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Pass to the Tight Ends
BYU has completed only seven passes to tight ends this season (all to Brett Thompson), yet their depth at the position is deeper than it's been in a while.
After a standout season by Kaneakua Friel in 2012 and plenty of other players expecting to play the position, much more was anticipated. The tight ends have mainly been used to block thus far, but passing to them would add another wheel to the offense.
The Cougars recorded five turnovers against Middle Tennessee—a number that they cannot afford to repeat against Utah State. Chuckie Keeton and the Aggies will surely transform Cougar turnovers into points on the board, and if BYU's offense sputters, it could spell disaster.
Lock Down on Keeton's Passing
Chuckie Keeton is legit. The Aggie quarterback has thrown more touchdowns this year than Johnny Manziel, and three less interceptions. BYU's secondary will need to step up, and the front seven will have to get pressure in the backfield. If Keeton has time in the pocket, it could be a long game for the Cougs.
Utah State's Keys to Victory
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Exploit BYU's Cornerback Weakness
The biggest defensive weakness for the Cougars has been their corners. With the arm that Chuckie Keeton has, USU should take advantage of this. Let the wideouts run deep routes—use speed to beat BYU.
If the Aggie offensive line can buy Keeton time, they shouldn't have a huge problem.
Don't Let Taysom Hill Run
I'm sure Utah State's defense has seen plenty of film of Taysom Hill shredding defenses with his legs, and they better be prepared. The crafty quarterback can fill more highlight reels on the ground than through the air, and USU should be ready to stop him.
Keep an Eye on Cody Hoffman
After sitting out last week, BYU's standout receiver Cody Hoffman is set to play on Friday. Without a doubt, Taysom Hill will be looking in his direction a lot. Utah State will need to prevent any big-yardage plays to Hoffman, along with the other receivers.
Key Players for the Cougars
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Jamaal Williams (RB)
Like Hoffman, Williams will also play his first game in two weeks, and should play a big role in BYU's offense. Ranked 13th in the country in rushing yards, Williams could give the Aggie defense fits.
Taysom Hill (QB)
After initially dominating on the ground but struggling with his passing, Hill showed glimpses of passing supremacy against Middle Tennessee. If he can connect as accurately with Mitch Mathews and now Cody Hoffman as he did last week, we could see lots of points on the board.
Kyle Van Noy (LB)
BYU's senior linebacker didn't play exceptionally last year against Utah State, and should be ready for a great game. If he can get in Keeton's head throughout the night, the Cougars will have a much larger chance at leaving Logan with a win.
Key Players for the Aggies
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Chuckie Keeton (QB)
As of right now, Keeton is the best passing quarterback in the state. He has lit up defenses this year with 17 passing touchdowns and only one interception, and he'll be one heckuva headache for BYU's secondary.
Joey DeMartino (RB)
Utah State hasn't had the strongest rushing attack this season, but Joey DeMartino looked incredible against San Jose State. With 120 yards on only 17 carries (7.1 yards per carry), he will be fun to watch.
Jake Doughty (LB)
Linebacker Jake Doughty, simply put, is a ball magnet. He has recorded double-digit tackles in three games, including a season-high 16 against Utah. Doughty will play a big role in stopping BYU's rushing attack, and could have a huge game.
What They Are Saying
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BYU receiver JD Falslev on Utah State's program, via the Salt Lake Tribune:
Coach [Matt] Wells has picked up right where Coach [Gary] Andersen left off. I am happy for them, but at the same time it is a game that I really, really want to win. Not only do I want to win, but this whole team really wants to win.
USU head coach Matt Wells on BYU linebacker Kyle Van Noy, via the Salt Lake Tribune:
[Van Noy] is a really, really good pass rusher against running backs, against O-linemen — it doesn’t really matter. He causes major matchup problems. I’ll be happy to shake his hand Friday night and be done with facing Kyle Van Noy.
BYU receiver Cody Hoffman, via the Salt Lake Tribune:
It is always going to be a struggle against them. It is just how rivalry games are. But we know that their defense is good, and our defense is good, and I think it will come down to which defense plays better. But I think both offenses are going to get their points.
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This will be one huge road test for BYU. The game will most likely be a defensive showdown, similar to last year.
Both teams have better offenses this time around, though, so it may be more of a high-scoring affair than last season. If the Cougar passing attack can get rolling, BYU will squeak out a narrow win in Logan.
Prediction: BYU wins, 20-17