CFN Take: Utah State, Myers Run By SJSU

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Nov 21, 2014


2014 Utah State Aggies ... Head Coach: Matt Wells


Utah State Aggies


2014 Schedule
Record: 9-3

Aug. 30 at Tennessee L 38-7
Sep. 6 Idaho State W 40-20
Sep. 13 Wake Forest W 36-24
Sep. 20 OPEN DATE
Sep. 27 at Ark St L 21-14 OT
Oct. 3 at BYU W 35-20
Oct. 11 Air Force W 34-16
Oct. 18 at Colorado St L 16-13
Oct. 25 UNLV W 34-20
Nov. 1 at Hawaii W 35-14
Nov. 8 at Wyoming W 20-3
Nov. 15 New Mexico W 28-21
Nov. 22 San Jose State W 41-7
Nov. 29 at Boise State
Nov. 22 at Utah State 41, San Jose State 7
And You Care Because … San Jose State tied it at seven in the second quarter on a one-yard Mitch Ravizza run, but the defense couldn’t handle Utah State QB Kent Myers, who ran for scores from 28, 60 and two yards out. JoJo Natson added a 56-yard touchdown dash as the Aggies scored 34 unanswered points, while the Spartan offense couldn’t move the chains in the second half.
What Else? Utah State QB Kent Myers completed 15-of-22 passes for 108 yards and a score, and ran four times for 92 yards and three scores
- San Jose State RB Tyler Ervin ran 22 times for 104 yards
- Third down conversions: Utah State 8-of-13 – San Jose State 4-of-17
- Fourth down conversions: San Jose State 2-of-5 – Utah State 0-of-1
Game Rating: D

Nov. 15 at Utah State 28, New Mexico 21
And You Care Because … Utah State got touchdown runs from LaJuan Hunt from one yard out and Devonte Robinson from 59 yards away to get up early, but New Mexico tied it up at 14 on a 72-yard Romell Jordan dash. The Aggies pulled away for good on a Wyatt Houston ten-yard scoring grab and a 48-yard JoJo Natson run, but that was in in the third quarter. Tyler Duncan caught a 59-yard touchdown pass for the Lobos, but that was it late.
What Else? Utah State ran 36 times for 272 yards and three scores, averaging 7.6 yards per carry
- New Mexico ran 49 times for 246 yards and two touchdowns
- Time of possession: Utah State 422 – New Mexico 400
- Utah QB Kent Myers completed 13-of-21 passes for 150 yards and a touchdown with a pick, and he ran ten times for 39 yards
Game Rating: B

Nov. 8 Utah State 20, at Wyoming 3
And You Care Because … Utah State’s JoJo Natson returned a punt 80 yards for a score and took a carry 66 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter for a 17-0 lead, and Nick Diaz added a fourth quarter 28-yard field goal after starting out the scoring with a 20-yard try. Wyoming’s offense moved the ball, but only managed a 37-yard Stuart Williams field goal.
What Else? Penalties: Wyoming 10 for 95 yards – Utah State 6 for 75 yards
- Utah State QB Kent Myers completed 13-of-16 passes for 150 yards, and ran eight times for 25 yards
- Wyoming RB Brian Hill ran 25 times for 122 yards
- Third down conversions: Wyoming 7-of-17 – Utah State 2-of-10
Game Rating: D+

Nov. 1 Utah State 35, at Hawaii 14
And You Care Because … Utah State was down to its fourth-string quarterback, Kent Myers, and he was nearly perfect throwing three touchdown passes with two to Hunter Sharp in the first quarter from six and 70 yards away. Hawaii tied it at 14 late in the first on a one-yard Justin Vele touchdown catch, but it was all Utah State the rest of the way with 21 unanswered points. Devin Centers returned a fumble ten yards for a score, and Ronald Butler caught a 39-yard touchdown pass and threw a 44-yard scoring pass to LaJuan Hunt.
What Else? Penalties: Hawaii 13 for 100 yards – Utah State 12 for 96 yards
- Utah State QB Kent Myers completed 14-of-15 passes for 186 yards and three scores
- Hawaii WR Quinton Pedroza caught eight passes for 123 yards
- Utah State RB LaJuan Hunt ran 33 times for 150 yards
Game Rating: C+

Oct. 25 at Utah State 34, UNLV 20
And You Care Because … The Aggies got three touchdown passes from Craig Harrison including a 69-yard pass play to Joe Hill and a 71-yarder to Jojo Natson on the way to an easy win. UNLV stayed in the game on two Blake Decker touchdown passes, but the offense couldn’t get back on the board until late in the fourth on a 41-yard Devonte Boyd scoring play on Decker’s third touchdown pass. Nick Diaz hit two field goals for the Aggies.
What Else? Utah State QB Craig Harrison completed 13-of-23 passes for 221 yards and three touchdowns, and ran nine times for 39 yards
- UNLV QB Blake Decker completed 22-of-38 passes for 267 yards and three touchdowns with two picks
- Utah State WR Jojo Natson caught six passes for 124 yards and a touchdown
- UNLV LB Tau Lotulelei made 15 tackles with three tackles for loss
Game Rating: C-

Oct. 18 at Colorado State 16, Utah State 13
And You Care Because … Jared Roberts hit a game-tying field goal for Colorado State from 46 yards out with less than two minutes to play, and then won it on another 46-yarder with no time left on the clock. Roberts hit his first of three field goals in the first half on a 52-yarder, but the Rams got a touchdown early on a one-yard Dee Hart run. Utah State managed two Nick Diaz field goals and only got into the end zone on a 59-yard Joe Hill run in the first quarter.
What Else? Penalties: Colorado State 11 for 116 yards – Utah State 6 for 45 yards
- Colorado State WR Rashard Higgins caught ten passes for 187 yards
- Utah State QB Darell Garretson completed 14-of-19 passes for 132 yards with an interception before leaving an apparent arm injury
- Colorado State QB Garrett Grayson completed 20-of-31 passes for 243 yards
Game Rating: B-

Oct. 11 at Utah State 34, Air Force 16
And You Care Because … Darrel Garretson threw two touchdown passes to Hunter Sharp from 75 yards out on the first play and three minutes later from 23 yards away, and the Utah State run defense held the Falcons in check on the way to a 31-6 halftime lead and an easy win. Air Force didn’t get into the end zone until late in the third quarter on an eight-yard Shayne Davern run, but it was way too late. Garretson also added a 17-yard touchdown run.
What Else? Turnovers: Air Force 4 – Utah State 1
- Utah State QB Darell Garretson completed 20-of-29 passes for 298 yards and two touchdowns, and he ran eight times for 24 yards and a score
- Air Force QB Kale Pearson completed 9-of-18 passes for 169 yards and a pick, and ran 20 times for 43 yards
- Utah State WR Hunter Sharp caught 12 passes for 164 yards and two touchdowns
Game Rating: C-

Oct. 3 Utah State 35, at BYU 20
And You Care Because … BYU star QB Taysom Hill suffered a broken leg in the first half and the team’s dreams of crashing the College Football Playoff party came to a stop as Utah State scored 21 straight points in the final 4:40 of the first half thanks to Darell Garretson, who ran for a five-yard score and found Devonte Robinson for a 22-yard score and, in the final minute, hit Hunter Sharp for a 72-yard touchdown. Down 14, the Cougars couldn’t rally in the second half mustering just two Trevor Samson field goals. The Aggies put it away late in the third on a one-yard Nick Vigil run.
What Else? Utah State QB Darell Garretson completed 19-of-25 passes for 321 yards and three scores, and ran for a touchdown.
- Before getting hurt, BYU QB Taysom Hill completed 8-of-11 passes for 99 yards and a score, and ran seven times for 35 yards and a touchdown. Christian Stewart completed 10-of-29 passes for 172 yards and three interceptions. BYU RB Jamaal Williams ran 17 times for 99 yards
- Utah State WR Hunter Sharp caught five passes for 173 yards and a score, Devonte Robinson caught six passes for 98 yards and two touchdowns
- Penalties: Utah State 12 for 105 yards – BYU 9 for 60 yards
Game Rating: B-

Sept. 20 at Arkansas State 21, Utah State 14 OT
And You Care Because … In a miraculous finish, Arkansas State tied the game on a four-yard Johnston White touchdown run late in the fourth, and forced overtime when Artez Brown blocked a 38-yard field goal attempt. In the OT, Fredi Knighten gave ASU the win on a 24-yard touchdown pass to Dijon Paschal. Utah State started out the scoring on a 81-yard Hunter Sharp touchdown catch in the first, and had a 14-7 lead in the third on a 41-yard Ronald Butler touchdown grab, but ASU woke up and came through in the final minutes.
What Else? Penalties: Utah State 11 for 100 yards – Arkansas State 8 for 62 yards
- Turnovers: Arkansas State 4 – Utah State 1
- Arkansas State RB Johsnton White ran 18 times for 100 yards and a score
- Utah State QB Darell Garretson completed 27-of-46 passes for 268 yards and two score with a pick
Game Rating: B+

Sept. 13 at Utah State 36, Wake Forest 24
And You Care Because … Wake Forest started out the scoring with a 70-yard Josh Banks interception return for a score. Utah State went on a 29-point first half run with Devin Centers returning a fumble 47 yards for a touchdown, Zach Vigil returning an interception 35 yards for a score, and Chuckie Keeton and Ronald Butler each throwing touchdown passes. Wake Forest scored 16 third quarter points helped by two John Wolford touchdown passes, but the offense was too mistake-prone and Utah State was able to pull away on a five-yard Wyatt Houston touchdown pass from Darell Garretson.
What Else? Utah State QB Chuckie Keeton suffered an apparent leg injury. He completed 20-of-27 passes for 166 yards and a score before getting knocked out. Darell Garretson completed 11-of-16 passes for 121 yards with a touchdown with a pick.
- Both teams kept screwing up. Wake Forest committed ten penalties for 103 yards with three turnovers, and Utah State committed eight penalties for 65 yards with three turnovers.
- Wake Forest was held to minus-25 rushing yards.
- Utah State’s Hunter Sharp caught 12 passes for 138 yards.
Game Rating: C-

Sept. 6 at Utah State 40, Idaho State 20
And You Care Because … Utah State never looked quite right, but there wasn’t a problem after being locked up at 6-6 in the middle of the second. The Aggies needed a little bit of help, needing a 52-yard JoJo Natson punt return for a touchdown and helped by two Jalen Davis interceptions including a 44-yard pick six. Chuckie Keeton had a rough day completing 13-of-30 passes for 116 yards with a pick, but he led the team with 74 rushing yards on eight carries. The two teams combined for 25 penalties with Idaho State turning it over four times and Utah State giving it up twice.
Game Rating: D+

Aug. 31 at Tennessee 38, Utah State 7
And You Care Because … Tennessee dominated from the start scoring 14 points in a 12 second span with Justin Worley throwing the first of his three touchdown passes right after Pig Howard scored from eight yards out. Worley connected with Von Pearson for a 14-yard score in the third and Jalen Hurd from 15 yards out in the fourth for a 31-0 lead before Utah State finally got on the board with a 37-yard Hunter Sharp touchdown grab.
What Else? Apparently, being young doesn’t necessarily matter too much. The baby-young Vols showed off their athleticism, speed and upside on both sides of the ball – being fast makes up for a lack of experience.
- Mistakes didn’t kill Utah State, but they didn’t help with three turnovers including two picks from Chuckie Keeton, who’s Heisman campaign was over before it began completing 18-of-35 passes for 144 yards and a score and running eight times for 12 yards.
- Justin Worley spread the ball around well with 11 different players catching passes. He completed 27-of-38 passes for 273 yards and three touchdowns.
- Utah State LB Nick Vigil led the way with 15 tackles with a sack and two tackles for loss, but it was the Tennessee linebackers who stood out. A.J. Johnson made nine tackles with a pick and a forced fumble.
Game Rating: C-

2014 Preview 

How far has Utah State come? A 9-5 season is a bit of a disappointment.

The Aggies got past a 3-4 start and a tough loss to Boise State to rip off five straight wins – granted, the schedule wasn’t that bad – to slip into the inaugural Mountain West championship, losing a tough battle with Fresno State before going off and beating Northern Illinois in the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl.

Remember, though, that before 2012, the last time Utah State won nine games in a season was 1961, and last year marked the first time in school history that the team went to three straight bowl games.

Winning seasons are new to a program that went from 1996 to 2011 without one, and just as Gary Andersen was getting things rocking and rolling, he took off to Wisconsin.

Matt Wells stepped in and did a great job of bringing the program into the bigger, better Mountain West after spending years in the WAC, Sun Belt and Big West, but now the program has tasted success and the expectations are there to do more.

But to get so good took the program building on a great base of players, and it took working with several good veterans and relying on them when star quarterback Chuckie Keeton went down. It’s going to take a massive and fast rebuilding effort to get back in the mix for the Mountain West title after succeeding with a senior-laden team.

Is Utah State really so good that it can just fill in the gaps? Can it replace four starters off a fantastic offensive line, three starters in a secondary that finished 15th in the nation in pass efficiency defense, and a 1,221-yard, 13-touchdown running back in Joey DeMartino?

In a division with Boise State and a rising Colorado State program, it had better.

The key is getting back Keeton, who’s expected to be all back full after suffering a knee injury in the sixth game of the year. He’ll have weapons to work with, but the offense won’t go anywhere unless the line can be a force despite the relative inexperience.

Keeton and the USU offense might get all the attention, but the program’s rise came on defense, especially against the run allowing just 107 yards per game and nine touchdowns last season. The 3-4 is a brick wall, and fortunately for the Aggies, it should be the team’s strength with four starters returning including the Vigil brothers at linebacker, Zach and Nick.

2014 could be a rebuilding year to point to a potentially outstanding 2015, but the system is in place and there might be just enough talent to be just that good again – as long as Chuckie stays healthy.

What to watch for on offense: How fast can the line come together? Tyler Larsen was a special, program-changing center and leader for the attack. He was one of four excellent starters for a line that had a little trouble in pass protection but was great for the ground game, pounding away for almost 2,500 yards. Can the Aggies crank up the 3,675 yards and 37 touchdowns they did in 2011? Not even close with Kevin Whimpey back starting at left tackle and the other four spots needing to be filled. There’s a little bit of experience among the former backups ready to step in, and there’s good size and decent quickness. It’s going to take a while to find the right rotation, but as long as the front five can keep Chuckie Keeton upright, everything should work out fine – after an adjustment period.

What to watch for on defense: The secondary has to hold its own. Safety Brian Suite is the only returning starter. It’s by far the team’s biggest issue – even over the offensive line that needs some retooling – and it has to hold up as the season goes on. Last season, the Aggies gave up 336 yards in the blowout win over San Jose State, but they came up with three picks. In the other four losses, the secondary allowed 302 yards to Utah, 335 against Boise State, 278 against BYU and 404 against Fresno State – four of the five biggest passing games allowed. They allowed 11 touchdown passes in the five losses and six in the nine wins.

The team will be far better if… Chuckie Keeton can remain in one piece. He’s not going to come within 50 miles of the Heisman, but he’s being put on a few preseason watch lists. He’s the program’s star with the ability to carry the team all by himself with a strong, accurate arm and the smarts to keep the offense moving. However, the team went on a nice run when he went down, winning six of its last eight games and losing the BYU battle when he got hurt. Even with their good line, the Aggies allowed 33 sacks last season and got backup quarterback Darrell Garretson rocked in the Mountain West title game. Keeton isn’t huge and isn’t built to take lots of huge shots. That could be a problem behind the revamped line.

The Schedule: Can the Aggies come out of Tennessee with a big win that can put them on the map? That might be asking a bit too much to kick off the season, but they can certainly handle Idaho State at home before hosting Wake Forest. Going to Arkansas State is a quirky-tough non-conference game, but they get a week off to prepare, and they’re going to need it with BYU to follow. The Mountain West slate is as easy as could possibly be asked for with no Nevada, San Diego State or Fresno State from the West. However, the Boise State showdown closes out the regular season on the blue turf – that could and should decide the Mountain – and there’s a run of three road games in four weeks going to Colorado State, Hawaii and Wyoming in the middle of the season.

Best offensive player: Senior QB Chuckie Keeton. A passing efficiency machine, he’s terrific on the move, cool under pressure, and dangerous when he gets a chance to take off in the open field. He needs help around him, and he needs time from the line, but if he gets time and the rest of the skill players can take advantage of the opportunities, the offense should be in for a huge season. Keeton is that good.

Best defensive player: Senior LB Zach Vigil. The front seven should be excellent, especially against the run with Kyler Fackrell and Nick Vigil two excellent linebackers on the outside, and B.J. Larsen is a strong end for the line. It’s Zach Vigil, though, who’s the key inside coming off an all-star, 124-tackle season. He’s tough, experienced and rock-solid when things are funneled his way. He’ll be the one everything works around, and he’ll come through with another huge season.

Key player to a successful season: Senior C Joe Summers and/or sophomore C Austin Stephens. The Aggies could move around one or both of the two to find the right fit and get the best five players up front, but whomever is at center has some massive shoes to fill. Tyler Larsen was a technician who grew into a star who made the line go. Coming up with a good nose tackle to anchor the defensive front three is vital, and hoping for a corner to rise up and rock in place of Nevin Lawson, but if Summers or Stephens can handle being close to Larsen’s level, everything else up front should click.

The season will be a success if ... the Aggies win ten games. They might not be quite good enough to beat Boise State, especially on the road, and there’s way too much turnover to expect a smooth run through teams like BYU and Colorado State. Even so, by the end of the season, they need to be jelled and good enough to win a third straight bowl game and come up with nine regular season wins along the way. They’ll probably lose at Tennessee to start things off, and at Boise State, so if there’s a split between road games at BYU and Colorado State, and no hiccups anywhere else, it’ll be a fantastic year.

Key game: Nov. 29 at Boise State. Without having to play the stars of the West, the schedule works out well. If Utah State is even close to thinking about winning a Mountain West title, they have be good enough to beat Hawaii and Wyoming on the road and have no problems with the league home games. Going to Colorado State will be tough, but there’s almost no way the Aggies will have an honest shot of taking the division title without a victory at Boise State. The last win over the Broncos? 1997.

2013 Fun Stats:
- Third Quarter Scoring: Utah State 128 – Opponents 54
- Rushing Yards: Utah State 2,493 – Opponents 1,494
- Fourth Down Conversions: Opponents 19-of-33 (58%) – Utah State 8-of-19 (42%)

- 2014 Utah State Preview - What You Need To Know & Top Players


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