Preview: Utah State vs. BYU

Utah State Aggies (1-2) @ BYU Cougars (3-1)
LaVell Edwards Stadium - Provo, Utah
7:00 PM MST, October 2, 2009
TV - The Mtn.
Radio - 102.7 FM; 1160 AM (KSL)

Injury Report

Utah State: Out - OL Ty Rogers (leg), DE Darby Golden (back); Questionable - WR Matt Austin (foot)

Notes - Rogers is a junior that started for the Aggies against Utah and Texas A&M before breaking his leg. Golden started ten games last season but is out indefinitely. Golden is being replaced by junior Devin Johnson. Austin is a highly regarded JUCO transfer from southern California but has yet to play this season due to an injury suffered this past summer.

BYU: Out - DT Russell Tialavea (knee); DE Vic So'oto (finger)

Notes - So'oto broke his finger against FSU and played with a cast against the Rams last weekend. He has since had surgery but is expected to return next week against the Rebels in Las Vegas.

Overview

The Cougars are a 24-point favorite in this game. Last season, in Logan, BYU won 34-14 but played a less than stellar second half. Looking back, it wasn't a particularly good omen for the rest of the season. And while both schools appear to have improved upon 2008, the end results aren't expected to differ too much.

Obviously the biggest difference for the Aggies this season is first-year head coach Gary Anderson. Still, Utah State has been giving up a lot of points early this season. They'll hope to create some turnovers and out-score the Cougars. QB Diondre Borel is a terrific athlete that poses another mobile threat to the Cougar defense. RB Robert Turbin has been very good this season as well. He ran for 148 yards against the Utes last month - on just 13 carries. The sophomore is also a receiving threat as he caught four passes for 116 yards against SUU last week. USU's best WR, Stanley Morrison, is only 5'9". You can bet Brian Logan is pretty thrilled about that after the last couple of weeks.

Mendenhall said Wednesday night that USU is expecting an offensive breakout game very soon. USU returns nine starters on offense and the Aggies' offensive coordinator, Dave Baldwin, runs a spread option attack with these weapons. Baldwin was an offensive coordinator at New Mexico and Michigan State previously.

Defensively the Aggies aren't as sharp. BYU should put up big numbers tonight at home. Cade Cooper and the SUU Thunderbirds put up 34 on Utah State last week. USU returns six starters on defense. However, none of those are two time All-WAC LB Jake Hutton. Injuries have prevented Hutton from playing this season after leading USU in tackles in 2007 and 2008. Possibly the best Aggie on defense, that you should be aware of, is senior Paul Igboeli. Igboeli was also All-WAC last season and recorded 78 tackles last year - six for losses.

In summary, USU's offense should be as effective as Colorado State's last weekend, if not more so. However, the Aggies' defense is not as strong as the Rams. Still, Utah State put up a strong fight in College Station two weeks ago and played well against BYU in the second half last season. Barring catastrophic turnovers however, the Cougars should surpass last week's offensive total. Look for Max Hall to be largely error-free in this game and for Riley Nelson to see some significant second half action. I'm calling it BYU 49, Utah State 27.

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