I sent Utah State beat writer Wade Denniston of the Logan Herald Journal five questions about Saturday’s Wyoming-Utah State game. Follow him on Twitter: @wdbowler
1. What do you think the emotional state of Utah State is after three tough losses in its first four games?
One would think the Aggies would be down on themselves and what not, but that is not the case. Coach (Gary) Andersen and his staff have done a great job getting them prepared to play week in and week out. The Aggies believe they are on the cusp of turning this thing around and know they are close. This is what senior defensive end Levi Koskan told me this week: “We’re one play away. It’s not like we’re getting unfocused, it’s not like we’re not playing with effort and discipline. We’re just one play away, so what we’ve got to do to get over the hump is keep doing what we’re doing — keep our attitude, keep believing, don’t get pessimistic, don’t despair. It will turn our way. I absolutely believe it. I still absolutely believe 100 percent that we’re going to win the WAC championship and that we’re going to a bowl game and we’re going to win that bowl game. There’s no reason not to believe that we can’t get that accomplished.”
2. What has freshman quarterback Chuckie Keeton done well so far this season, and what are the areas he needs to continue to work on and develop?
Chuckie has done a phenomenal job just managing the offense. That’s all the coaching staff wanted the quarterback to do this season, especially with offensive weapons like Robert Turbin, Michael Smith, Kerwynn Williams, Matt Austin and Stanley Morrison. It’s hard for me to pin-point what Chuckie needs to do better at because he has yet to throw an interception and he’s completed 62.4 percent of his passes.
3. How good is running back Robert Turbin, and if you were a defensive coordinator how would you game plan to, at very least, slow him down?
Robert Turbin is as good as they come. He is an extremely gifted and talented running back and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him play in the NFL. He is powerful and fast. It’s very tough to slow him down. You’ve got to gang tackle him. If one player tries to tackle him, Turbin will usually bowl him right over. Honestly, the best thing I can say about Turbin, is he is well-liked and a very down-to-earth guy.
4. What have opposing offenses done well to move the ball against Utah State’s defense?
Teams have had more success passing the ball against the Aggies. USU used to be horrendous when it came to rushing defense, but has improved greatly this season. The Aggies rank second in the WAC and 35th in the nation in rushing D and 29th in the country and first in the WAC in total defense. However, quarterbacks have hurt the Aggies this year when they haven’t been able to get pressure on them, as was the case against BYU last week.
5. Kind of a two-fold question: Are fans excited for a team like Wyoming to come in being a somewhat regional rival, and what is your prediction for the final score?
It’s hard to gauge just how excited the fans are for a team like Wyoming to come in. There were 22,000-plus when CSU came to town, but given the fact the Aggies have lost so many close ones this year, some fans have probably jumped off the bandwagon, which is sad really. This is a really good team, the product on the field is better and USU is playing quality opponents at home like CSU and UW. Final score: USU 31, Wyoming 21. I think the Aggies finally get over the hump and close one out here! Sorry UW fans!!!
Any thoughts on this? Wade wasn’t able to take any of my questions, but I am working on possible another Q&A swap with another colleague of mine in Utah that covers the Aggies. This could make for some good conversation today for the weekly live chat at 3 p.m. Here’s the link: http://wyomingcowboysblog.com/2011/10/04/live-chat-october-6th-3pm/