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CFN Take: Utah State Beats NIU In Poinsettia
Posted Dec 27, 2013

2013 Utah State Aggies ... Head Coach: Matt Wells

Utah State Aggies

2013 Record: 9-5
8/29 at Utah L 30-26
9/7 at Air Force W 52-20
9/14 Weber State W 70-7
9/21 at USC L 17-14
9/27 at San Jose St W 40-12
10/4 BYU L 31-14
10/12 Boise State L 34-23
10/19 at New Mexico W 45-10
11/2 Hawaii W 47-10
11/9 at UNLV W 28-24
11/23 Colorado St W 13-0
11/30 Wyoming W 35-7
12/7 Utah State 24-17
SDCCU Poinsettia Bowl
12/26 Northern Illinois W 21-14
Utah State 21, Northern Illinois 14
Basically … Utah State battered and bruised its way to a tough win, getting up early on two Nick Diaz field goals and overcoming a 7-6 halftime deficit after Jordan Lynch gave NIU the lead on a one-yard touchdown run. The Aggies took advantage of a break to take the lead back on a five-yard Brandon Swindall catch, but they didn’t control the game until the fourth quarter following a missed Mathew Sims field goal, going on a 16-play, 80-yard drive finishing up with a Joey DeMartino touchdown run with just over four minutes to play. NIU forced a takeaway and scored on a 15-yard touchdown catch from Juwan Brescacin in the final minutes, but failed to recover the onside kick.

- Rushing yards: Utah State 168 – NIU 99
- Utah State RB Joey DeMartino ran 23 times for 143 yards and a score
- Northern Illinois QB Jordan Lynch completed 20-of-35 passes for 216 yards and a score with a pick, and ran 18 times for 39 yards and a touchdown
- Northern Illinois PK Mathew Sims was 0-2 on field goals missing from 37 and 29 yards out
- Utah State LB Nick Vigil made seven tackles with 1.5 sacks
- Utah State SS Brian Suite made a game-leading 11 tackles with a pick

at Fresno State 24, Utah State 17
Basically … Fresno State won the Mountain West championship with tough defense along with the arm of Derek Carr, who threw three touchdown passes from short range to Marcel Jensen, Isaiah Burse and Davante Adams, but Utah State, who lost starting quarterback Darrell Garretson to a huge hit wouldn’t go away. The defense got the first points with Jake Doughty taking a fumble 86 yards for a touchdown in the final seconds of the first half, and down 24-7 the Aggies scored ten unanswered points on a ten-yard Bruce Natson touchdown run and a 20-yard Nick Diaz field goal. With a recovered onside kick, and a late chance after a fourth down stop, Utah State had some key opportunities, but the Fresno State defense that came up with eight sacks held firm.
- Fresno State QB Derek Carr completed 36-of-53 passes for 404 yards and three scores and two picks.
- Utah State WR Ronald Butler caught five passes for 145 yards
- Fresno State WR Davante Adams caught nine passes for 168 yards and a score
- Fresno State WR Isaiah Burse caught 17 passes for 132 yards and a score.

at Utah State 35, Wyoming 7
Basically … Utah State clinched its spot in the Mountain West title game with a 35-0 lead going into the fourth helped by two Darell Garretson touchdown passes and a 64-yard punt return for a score from Bruce Natson. Wyoming finally got on the board in the fourth on a 60-yard Dominic Rufran touchdown catch, but it was way too late. The Cowboys finished with just 190 yards of total offense.
- Utah State QB Darell Garretson completed 20-of-29 passes for 156 yards and three scores with a pick.
- Wyoming QB Brett Smith completed 16-of-29 passes for 162 yards and a score with a pick.
- Utah State RB Joey DeMartino ran 20 times for 112 yards and a score.
- Wyoming ran 29 times for 28 yards.

Utah State 28 at UNLV 24
Basically … Bruce Natson ran for a 12-yard score in the final four minutes for a four point Aggie lead. UNLV marched down to the Utah State 12 but Caleb Herring’s fourth down pass to Devante Davis was incomplete and Utah State survived. Herring threw two touchdown passes and Tim Cornett ran for a touchdown, but Utah State always had an answer as Darrell Garretson found Shaan Johnson for a five-yard score and Natson and Joey DeMartino each ran for short scores.
- Utah State WR Travis Reynolds caught seven passes for 129 yards and Travis Van Leeuwen added four catches for 112 yards.
- UNLV QB Caleb Herring completed 17-of-39 passes for 252 yards and two scores with a pick, and he ran nine times for 27 yards.
- UNLV RB Tim Cornett ran 29 times for 115 yards and a score.
- Utah State QB Darrel Garretson completed 16-of-28 passes for 288 yards and a score.

at Utah State 47, Hawaii 10, Nov. 2
Basically … Utah State amassed 533 yards of offense, rolling to a 23-3 halftime lead and coasting to a 37-point win over the Warriors in Logan. The Aggies put the game away in the third quarter. Leading 26-10, Utah State pushed its lead to 33-10 on a 30-yard touchdown pass from Darell Garretson to Travis Reynolds. Later, with 1:41 left in the third quarter, USU’s Kyler Fackrell intercepted a pass thrown by Hawaii’s Sean Schroeder and returned it 99 yards for a touchdown, making the score 40-10 in favor of the Aggies.
- Garretson completed 28-of-41 passes for 370 yards and three touchdowns with one interception.
- Reynolds caught 8 passes for 152 yards and one touchdown for Utah State. The Aggies featured four receivers who caught at least 44 yards worth of passes.
- Schroeder completed 13-of-26 passes for 213 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions, one of them a pick-six.
- Utah State controlled the ball for 39:14, compared to 20:46 for Hawaii.

Boise State 34, at Utah State 23
Basically … Joe Southwick threw two touchdowns passes and ran for a seven-yarder on the way to a 34-10 Boise State lead in the third quarter. Jay Ajayi started out the scoring with a two-yard touchdown run, and Dan Goodale came up with two field goals on the way to the big lead. Utah State scored the final 14 points with a Nevin Lawson pick six and a Travis Van Leeuwen four-yard touchdown catch, but the Aggies were never close after early in the second quarter.
- Boise State came up with a strong overall game, even with three turnovers. Joe Southwick threw for a career-high 335 yards and two scores, and the defense did a good job of focusing on the Utah State running game and took advantage of the suddenly mediocre passing attack. Jay Ajayi ran for 109 yards, but overall the running game was stalling – Southwick was strong on third downs and to help put the game away in the third.
- Such is life without Chuckie Keeton. Darrell Garretson completed 9-of-14 throws for 116 yards and a score with two picks, and Craig Harrison hit 7-of-17 throws for 105 yards. Neither one did anything to loosen up the Boise State pass defense, and the running backs didn’t pick up the slack with the ground game finishing with 127 yards – it was bottled up all game long. With New Mexico, Hawaii, UNLV and Colorado State up next, the Aggies will start winning again, but it has to happen soon.

BYU 31, at Utah State 14
Basically … Taysom Hill threw three touchdown passes to Mitch Mathews and Kyle Van Noy returned Chuckie Keeton’s first pass for a touchdown as BYU came up with a shocking blowout. Before leaving with a knee injury, Keeton threw a seven-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter. Down 31-7, the Aggies got back on the board in the final moments on an eight-yard Ronald Butler touchdown catch from Craig Harrison.
- The BYU defense stepped its game up several notches, keeping Chuckie Keeton to a disastrous 4-of-10, 26-yard, one score, one interception for a score day before he got hurt. Uani Unga came up with 16 stops in the middle of the D, while the secondary busted up pass after pass.
- Even though he was under constant pressure, Taysom Hill was fantastic. He was sacked a few times, and Utah State was seemingly always in the backfield, but he still completed 17-of-31 passes for 278 yards and three scores with a pick. It helped that Mitch Mathews had the game of his life, catching five passes for 112 yards and two scores.
- The Aggie running game wasn’t too bad, but it had to abandon ship in a hurry after the game started spiraling out of control. The quarterbacks combined to hit 22-of-51 passes for 211 yards and two scores with a devastating interception.
- Jamaal Williams didn’t have to carry much of the workload. Algernon Brown ran 16 times for 47 yards, but the banged up Williams led the Cougars with 79 yards on 14 carries, highlighted by a nice 44-yard dash.

Utah State 40, at San Jose State 12
Basically … Utah State broke the game wide open with two Chuckie Keeton touchdown passes in the first quarter and three of Nick Diaz’s four field goals in the second. San Jose State could only manage two Austin Lopez field goals until Jason Simpson ran for a score late in the third, but by that time, Keeton had already put the game away.
- David Fales might be the better pro prospect, but Chuckie Keeton had the stronger game completing 29-of-42 passes for 260 yards and three scores, and he ran for 52 yards and a touchdown.
- Fales wasn’t bad, doing what he could, but he threw two picks, and most of the 314 passing yards didn’t really go anywhere. There were a few big throws, but his receivers couldn’t break free. He had to force too many passes.
- Keith Smith continues to put up humongous numbers. The Spartan linebacker made 20 tackles with two tackles for loss. Travis Raciti did a decent job of generating a push in the interior with seven tackles and two sacks.
- Not everything went perfectly for the Aggies - committing nine penalties and losing guard kyle Whimpey to a knee injury - but San Jose State was flagged 11 times and turned it over four times. The Aggies and Keeton kept control of the game throughout, hanging on to the ball for almost 37 minutes. The defense was aggressive at getting behind the line – there wasn’t a San Jose State running game.

at USC 17, Utah State 14
Basically … In a defensive fight, Andre Heidari hit a 25-yard field goal to give the Trojans the lead early in the fourth, and the D hung on from there. Utah State came up with two Chuckie Keeton touchdown passes, but the offense stalled time and again in the second half with no rhythm to the attack. The Trojans scored first on a one-yard Tre Madden run, and got a 30-yard Xavier Grimble touchdown catch late in the second.
- Field position turned into everything. Utah State was able to come up with a few quirky plays, but the Trojans were able to tilt the field helped by a misfire on a missed fake punt attempt by the Aggies. Chuckie Keeton didn’t turn the ball over and he did what he could, completing 21-of-39 passes for 179 yards and two scores, but the team’s 11 penalties and lack of running game were a problem.
- Yuck. The USC defense is dealing – holding the high-powered Aggies to 285 yards – but the offense just can’t find anything that works down the field. Tre Madden ran for a workmanlike 93 yards and a score on 24 carries, but the attack came up with just 282 yards. Cody Kessler completed just 13-of-26 passes for 164 yards and a score.
- The Utah State linebacking corps of Jake Doughty and Zach Vigil combined for 24 tackles with Doughty coming up with a sack, while Kyler Fackrell had a nice day getting into the backfield with two sacks and a forced fumble.
- Again, the USC D. It’s unfortunate that the bad offense is overshadowing a special defense that’s not giving up much of anything. There was a nice pass rush from Morgan Breslen and the line, and the secondary didn’t give up deep plays, but the O just isn’t providing any consistent help.

at Utah State 70, Weber State 7, Sept. 14
Basically … Utah State roared out of the box with a 49-0 first half lead and a 70-0 advantage after three quarters before finally letting up. Chuckie Keeton threw five touchdown passes and Joey DeMartino ran for three scores from 11, seven and 60 yards away. Utah State’s only points came on a fumble return for a score with 50 seconds left.
- This was supposed to be a wee bit of a fight, but Utah State came out perfect from the start. Chuckie Keeton continues to be red hot, playing as well as any quarterback in college football, completing 19-of-25 passes for 249 yards and five scores. He ran a little bit, but he wasn’t needed for the ground game and got to save on a little wear and tear.
- Now it’s time for a big name win. Utah State came up just short in the opener against Utah, but a win over USC on the road next week would send the program sky-high before dealing with San Jose State, BYU and Boise State.
- After stuffing Air Force cold, the defense didn’t take the week off. It swarmed all over the midrange passing game, allowing just 34 yards through the air. Weber State’s offense was a disaster.

Utah State 52, at Air Force 20, Sept. 7
Basically … Chuckie Keeton threw five touchdown passes to five different targets, and with three of his scoring passes coming in the third quarter to pull Utah State away in a close game. Air Force backup quarterback Jaleel Awini scored on a three-yard run to make it 21-13 Aggies in the second, and then it was all Keeton leading Utah State to 31 straight points.
- There isn’t a more effective quarterback in America right now than Chuckie Keeton. He was ultra-efficient and effective completing 32-of-40 passes for 360 yards and five touchdowns with an interception, and he led the team with 77 rushing yards.
- Air Force starting quarterback Kale Pearson was hurt with a knee injury, so Jaleel Awini stepped in from the start, but he struggled. He only completed 4-of-12 passes, and while he ran for 48 yards, there was a key early fumble and the ground game didn’t work all that well to try getting back in the game.
- Jake Doughty continues to hit everything in sight. The Utah State linebacker led the team with 11 tackles, while his running mate, Zach Vigil, continues to be disruptive with a forced fumble, a tackle for loss and nine tackles.
- Air Force has to control the ball, but it only converted 2-of-15 third down chances and had the ball for under 28 minutes. Utah State converted 11-of-15 third down tries and had it for over 32 minutes.

at Utah 30, Utah State 26, Aug. 29
Basically … Utah got two Travis Wilson touchdown passes early and two Andy Phillips field goals late in the fourth, including a 38-yarder with 19 seconds to play, to come up with the win. Utah State took a 23-14 lead in the third quarter on a 15-yard Chuckie Keeton touchdown run, and he hit Brandon Swindall with two touchdown passes in the second, but Utah came roaring back in the second half helped by a two-yard Karl Williams touchdown run to close out the third.
- For all the talk in the Mountain West about quarterbacks and David Fales and Derek Carr, Chuckie Keeton showed early on that he’s going to be a force completing 31-of-40 passes for 314 yards and two scores. However, it’s not really a plus that he led the team with 85 rushing yards and a score. Joe Hill needs to be doing more.
- Utah State linebacker Jake Doughty came up with a whale of a game, cranking out 16 tackles. Maurice Alexander was also all over the field making 11 stops with 1.5 sacks.
- Utah’s Nate Orchard made big play after big play on the outside. The end made eight tackles with a sack, a forced fumble and three tackles for loss.
- The key part of Utah quarterback Travis Wilson’s game? No interceptions. He took a few sacks, but he didn’t force anything and he was extremely effective throwing for 302 yards and two scores.

Spring Analysis

Why To Be Excited There’s no reason to think that the offense is going to start slowing down despite the loss of head coach Gary Andersen. Matt Wells has a loaded team returning with eight starters back on an offense that averaged close to 470 yards per game, while the defense gets back most of the key parts after finishing 14th in the nation in yards allowed and seventh in scoring. Quarterback Chuckie Keeton should be one of the Mountain West’s biggest stars, and while he doesn’t have Kerwynn Williams to hand off to anymore, all five starters return to a strong offensive line that should blast away for Joe Hill and the rest of the Aggie backs.

Why To Be Grouchy Andersen really was special. Wells is walking into a great situation, but Andersen was a miracle worker who managed to take a moribund program and make it good enough to go 11-2 and within five points of being perfect. The defensive front that was so great at getting into the backfield loses outside defenders Al Lapuaho and Bojay Filimoeatu. While the top pass rushers are back, it’s going to be a bit of a fight to find more producers up front and replace star corner Will Davis.

What Needs Working On The defense needs to be better at forcing fumbles. As good as it was throughout the year against the run and as fantastic as it was at getting behind the line, the defense didn’t do enough to get the ball on the ground. The pass D picked off 14 passes with 11 in the final six games, but on the year the Aggies forced a mere 11 fumbles and recovered just six. Turnover margin wasn’t a problem overall, but it would be nice it turned into a positive.

Team Concerns For 2013: The first step will be getting used to new head coach Matt Wells, who should keep most of Gary Andersen's main schemes in place, but he'll have to find a new running back to get the ground game going with Kerwynn Williams done. The Aggies have to cut down on the penalties and it would be nice to be better at holding on to the ball - opponents had it four minutes more per game - but more than anything else, they just have to try keeping the momentum rolling moving from the WAC to the Mountain West.

The 2013 Class Is Heavy On ... Wide receivers. The idea is to help out the passing game down the road with JUCO transfers Ryan Watson and Ronald Butler along with three of the team's better prep pickups - John Fakahafua, Hayden Weichers and Tyler Fox - to give the offense a boost. The defense will need bodies next season with ends Caden Andersen and Jacoby Wildman two of the few strong prospects. Quarterback Darell Garretson and JUCO transfer corner Jeremy Morris need to be key parts of the puzzle.

2012 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 124. That Class Was Heavy On ... The Aggies need to upgrade the running back corps with Robert Turbin and Michael Smith gone. The depth needs to be developed and any newcomers will get every shot to see time right away. After going heavy on the JUCO transfers over the last few years, head coach Gary Andersen is in a more secure position and the program can go after more freshmen options to build for down the road. 

2011 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 100. That Class Was Heavy On ... JUCO. Gary Andersen went went the JUCO route to provide some instant pop in 2009, and after dealing with the future last year, he’s going back to the secondary schools for help. True freshman QB Chuck Keeton needs to be the star of the class with his athleticism, but the point of this haul was to load up on plays with three JUCO corners, led by speedy William Davis, while Tyler Bennett could be a major boost for the punting game.

2010 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 107. That Class Was Heavy On ... The passing game. Gary Andersen spent his first season loading up on players getting JUCO transfer after JUCO transfer, but this recruiting season is about building for the future. Diondre Borel is the starting quarterback this year without question, so Alex Hart, Trevor Brown, and Jeremy Higgins will get time to develop. However, a few of the new receivers will be asked to produce early on. JUCO transfers Xavier Martin and Dontel Watkins will give Borel targets, but Shaan Johnson will end up being the start of the passing attack.

2009 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 104. That Class Was Heavy On ... JUCO. New head coach Gary Andersen is looking to make an impact early on, and he needed more bodies to do it. While the incoming junior college players will mostly be used for depth, the program needed players to push for spots and to provide more competition. OT Christian Browne-Frazier and LB Reuben Willis will do that.

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