Fiu, Cirminiello, Mitchell on TV - Campus Insiders | Buy College Football Tickets

CFN Preview 2013 - Utah State Aggies
Utah State QB Chuckie Keeton
Utah State QB Chuckie Keeton
Posted May 1, 2013 2013 Preview - Utah State Aggies

Utah State Aggies

Preview 2013

- 2013 Utah State Preview | 2013 Utah State Offense
- 2013 Utah State Defense | 2013 Utah State Depth Chart
- Utah State Previews 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006

- Suggestions or something we missed? Let us know
- Follow us ... @ColFootballNews

By Pete Fiutak

Head coach: Matt Wells
1st year: 0-0
Returning Lettermen: 49
Off. 23, Def. 22, ST 4
Lettermen Lost: 16
Ten Best Utah State Players
1. QB Chuckie Keeton, Jr.
2. C Tyler Larsen, Sr.
3. LB Zach Vigil, Jr.
4. LB Jake Doughty, Sr.
5. OG Eric Schultz, Sr.
6. CB Nevin Lawson, Sr.
7. DE Connor Williams, Sr.
8. LB Kyler Fackrell, Soph.
9. RB Joe Hill, Jr.
10. DE B.J. Larsen, Sr.
2013 Schedule
8/29 at Utah
9/7 at Air Force
9/14 Weber State
9/21 at USC
9/27 at San Jose State
10/4 BYU
10/12 Boise State
10/19 at New Mexico
11/2 Hawaii
11/9 at UNLV
11/23 Colorado State
11/30 Wyoming
Has anyone outside of Logan really grasped just how amazing the 2012 Utah State season really was?

To put in all in perspective, first you have to remember just how bad Utah State football was for a really, really long time. The 7-6 2011 campaign was the program’s first winning season since 1996 and just the third since 1980. Not only did the Aggies jump up with an amazing 11-2 campaign, they did it with a legitimately good team.

Of course, playing in the WAC provided some easy layups against the Texas States and Idahos of the world, but the win over Utah ended up costing the Utes a bowl bid, the win over San Jose State was terrific and getting by Louisiana Tech in a shootout was a thriller. The 6-3 loss to BYU could’ve gone either way and the 16-14 loss to Wisconsin finished with a makeable missed Aggie field goal. That’s it. An extra kick here or there and the Aggies are in the BCS.

And again, yes, they were that good.

The defense was magnificent throughout the year, struggling in the high-octane shootout against Louisiana Tech but stuffing both Wisconsin, BYU and everyone else. The defensive front seven was outstanding at getting into the backfield, the run defense was a rock and the secondary didn’t give up a thing finishing eighth in the nation in pass efficiency defense. Meanwhile, the offense was terrific with the running game and came up with one of the most efficient passing games in the nation. And now almost all the key parts are back on both sides of the ball.

Chuckie Keeton has been a strong all-around playmaker and effective passer who showed just how good he and the offense could be with a full season at the helm. The running backs need some replacing and the receiving corps is an issue, but the offensive line is going to be dominant with center Tyler Larsen and four starters returning to a group that was outstanding in pass protection and did a nice job for the ground attack.

The biggest overall change over the years has been on defense, and after what was supposed to be a rebuilding year, there’s reason to get really, really excited with Zach Vigil and Jake Doughty back at linebacker and with most of the top producers back on the front three and secondary.

And now it’s time to keep the momentum going with a shot at the first run of three straight winning seasons since 1978 to 1980, but it has to happen with Gary Andersen off to Wisconsin and new head coach Matt Wells needing to show he can handle the work. The new Mountain West is going to be a little bit stronger than the old WAC, but if the Aggies played like they did last season, they should be able to do more than hold their own.

What to watch for on offense: The offensive line. Keeton will be Keeton again and should be a difference maker, and the running backs and receivers will come around, but keeping up the production will come down to whether or not the line can do that again. Tyler Larsen is one of the nation’s top centers and tackle Eric Schultz is an all-star. Four starters are back to a group that got 13 games from all the starters except one – left tackle Kevin Whimpey didn’t start in the opener, but took over for the final 12 games.

What to watch for on defense: The pass rush from the front three. The Aggies brought the heat from all angles with the linebackers and defensive backs finding their way to the quarterback on a regular basis, but it all starts with a big and aggressive front three that has to generate a big push. Connor Williams is good-sized 3-4 end and B.J. Larsen can get moving on the other side, while tackle A.J. Pataiali’I is good at making things happen up the middle. The more the front line can do, the less the nasty linebacking corps has to worry about.

The team will be far better if … the kicking game is more clutch. Nick Diaz and Josh Thompson combined forces with Thompson being used from short and Diaz from deep, and now they have to be better. A missed 37-yard kick cost the Aggies the Wisconsin game, and the 6-3 loss to BYU was partially due to a 38-yarder that didn’t connect. With more close games sure to come, being better than 14-of-20 as a team is a must.

The schedule: It's really, really nasty early, but it gets nice and easy late. The Aggies have four road games in the first five before dealing with brutal home games against BYU and Boise State. Going to USC and San Jose State within six days is rough, and opening up at Utah at at Air Force won't make things easy. Fortunately, at New Mexico, Hawaii, at UNLV, Colorado State and Wyoming is about as easy as it gets for a finishing kick, but first, coming up with a few wins over the first half of the year might be a must to go bowling.

Best offensive player: Junior QB Chuckie Keeton. Center Tyler Larsen could also be the correct answer, but it’s Keeton who makes everything go with his toughness, running ability and passing skills. While he threw two picks in three different games, the Aggies won all three games and he was careful in most other games. Also a runner, he took off for 619 yards and eight scores, but it was within the course of the game – he’s a passer who also runs.

Best defensive player: Junior LB Zach Vigil. Running mate Jake Doughty led the team in tackles and is the team’s tone-setting leader, but Vigil is the better all-around playmaker with the ability to get into the backfield as a pass rusher while also doing a nice job in pass coverage. Combining with Doughty and Kyler Fackrell – who’s even better against the pass – the Aggies have a terrific linebacking corps.

Key player to a successful season: The second cornerback job. Nevin Lawson is a fantastic all-around playmaker and a great open field tackler, but teams are going to start staying away from him more with Will Davis done on the other side. Davis led the team with five picks and 17 broken up passes, and now it’ll be up to Devonta Glover-Wright and Rashard Stewart to come up with big plays when attacked. The front seven is going to be active and strong against the run, and the secondary will be fine, but if there’s a breakdown against the better Mountain West passing teams, it’ll be a disappointing year.

The season will be a success if … the Aggies go bowling again. It's still a big deal for the program to get the extra game, and with all the turnover in the coaching staff and with a much, much tougher schedule, getting to six wins won't be as much of a step back as it might appear. Avoiding the upset late will be vital, and coming up with a shocker or three against some of the Mountain West big boys could be a must to keep everyone from sweating late.

Key game: Sept 7 at Air Force. It's time to worry about Mountain West play, but it'll be tough to do with an in-state battle with Utah to open things up and with so many big games coming up. Assume a win over Weber State, but there's a chance the Aggies could go 1-6 to start the year without a win in Fort Collins. It's the conference opener, and it could be a disaster to be down 0-1 with all the other big league games coming up before mid-October.

2012 Fun Stats:
- 1st Quarter Scoring: Utah State 138 – Opponents 9
- Time of Possession: Opponents 32:01 – Utah State 27:59
- Sacks: Utah State 42 for 290 yards – Opponents 18 for 122 yards

- 2013 Utah State Preview | 2013 Utah State Offense
- 2013 Utah State Defense | 2013 Utah State Depth Chart