The Bobcat football team will try to put their most recent loss to San Jose State University behind them as they travel to battle Utah State University.
“We played a good first half, played hard,” said Coach Dennis Franchione about last weekend’s game against San Jose State. “Defensively, we couldn’t get enough stops. Offensively, we could not reestablish field position and make enough happen.”
The Aggies (7-2, 3-0) are currently on a three-game winning streak and have won five of their last six with a lone loss coming to rival Brigham Young University. BYU defeated the Aggies 6-3 in front of a national television audience.
Sophomore quarterback Chuckie Keeton leads Utah State’s offense. He was just named WAC Offensive Player of the Week for the third time this season. Keeton is already 10th on the school’s all-time list in total offense with 4,206 yards through two years of play.
Keeton has passed for 2,355 yards with a 67.5 completion percent. He has tossed 19 touchdowns with five interceptions. He has rushed for 358 yards with a 4.2 per carry average, while adding three touchdowns on the ground. His best game of the season came against the University of Nevada-Las Vegas when he passed for 404 yards with four touchdowns.
The Bobcats will face another running back near the top nationally in rushing. Kerwynn Williams leads the Aggies in rushing with 885 yards, carrying a 6.1 average. He ranks 23rd in rushing yards in the nation. He has contributed nine touchdowns on the season and averaged roughly 100 yards per contest. He is the team’s leading receiver with 493 yards on 33 receptions and has found the end zone three times.
Senior Matt Austin is the next man up at receiver totaling 425 yards on 31 catches. The wide receiver has four touchdowns to his credit. Tight end Kellen Bartlett has added 31 catches, and wide out Chuck Jacobs has 376 receiving yards and five touchdowns.
The Aggies do most of their damage early, outscoring its opponents 89-6 in the first quarter of games this season.
Junior wide receiver Andy Erickson would like to see the team’s first-half offense continue into the second.
“It helps us as players to know that we can move the ball,” said Andy Erickson about the first-half offensive successes. “I don’t know what happens in the second half. In my opinion we have a great short passing game. I think we have completed a lot of them, and we are good at running the ball sometimes.”
The Aggies have not allowed more than 27 points per game all season, which came in their victory against San Jose State. Its defense ranks among the nation’s top 20 in four categories: sacks per game (3.56), scoring (14.2), rushing (96.0), and total (319.4).
Utah State runs a 3-4 defense with its linebackers primarily making the plays. Inside linebacker Zach Vigil is among the team leaders in three categories: tackles with 71, 8.5 for a loss and has five sacks. Jake Doughty teams with him in the middle and has 65 tackles. Kyler Fackrell flanks them on one side and has 62 tackles.
The Aggies will need to slow down senior quarterback Shaun Rutherford and the Bobcat pistol offense, one of the ways the Spartans were able to come away with a victory against Texas State last Saturday.
“We had to slow (the speed option) down,” said San Jose State’s linebacker Keith Smith regarding Rutherford’s ability to run. “We knew they were a good team, and we had to stop their speed option. Instead, we ended up over-pursuing it, and once we stopped doing that, it worked out well for us.”
Kickoff at Romney Stadium is at 2 p.m.
Follow Jordan Brewer on Twitter: @jbrewer32