The Utah State Aggies have transformed over the past few seasons, from one of the worst programs in FBS football to a real contender who could hang with pretty much any team. One of the major reasons for that was QB Chuckie Keeton, who had quietly developed into one of the best quarterbacks in the entire country.
In just about two seasons worth of games, Keeton had thrown for nearly 6,000 yards while adding 56 passing touchdowns and only 13 interceptions. In that same span, he has added 1,153 yards and 12 touchdowns rushing. That running ability led to him being one of the most elusive QBs in the sport, as he constantly used his legs to avoid sacks and extend plays.
In this year's game against hated BYU on Oct. 4, Keeton went down with an injury after landing awkwardly while being tackled in the first quarter, which led to him being on crutches on the sideline for the remainder of the game. The Aggies just weren't the same after that, losing 31-14 to the Cougars in a game that wasn't even as close as the final score suggests.
On Saturday, the Aggies got even more bad news, as coach Matt Wells announced that Keeton is out for the season (h/t CBSSports). Both his ACL and MCL in his left knee are torn, and Keeton will undergo surgery next week that is expected to take about eight months to heal.
The loss of Keeton is absolutely devastating for Utah State. The Aggies had hoped to contend for a conference title in their first season in the Mountain West Conference. With Keeton's season-ending injury, those title aspirations seem like a pipe dream. Keeton was the heart and soul of this team, and is what turned an otherwise middle-of-the-road Utah State team into a dangerous team capable of winning any game.
The Aggies will now turn to junior Craig Harrison as their signal-caller. After taking over for Keeton against BYU, Harrison was only 18-of-41 for 185 yards and one touchdown. If USU is to have any hope of still contending for the conference title, Harrison will have to show a lot more potential than he did against the Cougars.
Chuckie Keeton's injury is an unfortunate reminder that injuries can strike at any time, regardless of how talented and successful a player might be. For now, the Aggies are left to pick up the pieces and see how well they can hold together without their star player.