Will the Aggies win the WAC?
The USU football team is off to a promising start, but it's not the only contender
Published: Monday, October 8, 2012
Updated: Monday, October 8, 2012 13:10
Two missed kicks, two losses.
Five points are all that stand between Utah State football and a 6-0 record, but instead of looking back at what might have been, the Aggies are looking forward to what can be.
“The bottom line is this: we're 4-2, two games away from being bowl-eligible, which is huge, and we haven't started WAC play yet," said head coach Gary Andersen after the game in Provo.
Despite the loss to Brigham Young University on Friday, the Aggies have a lot to be optimistic about and look forward to over the second half of the season. In its final season in the Western Athletic Conference, Utah State has the capability and opportunity to go out on top.
But it won’t be easy.
WAC-newcomer University of Texas-San Antonio is sitting at 5-0 and 1-0 in conference, Louisiana Tech is also 5-0 and ranked No. 23 in the country in the Associated Press poll and San Jose State is 4-1. Utah State plays two of those three teams in the next three weeks, traveling to San Jose State next week — in a matchup that could be a factor in determining the WAC champion — and UTSA on Oct. 27.
Sounds a little daunting, but it’s perfectly conceivable for the Aggies to win the WAC.
After the game against BYU, USU’s defense is ranked 8th in the country in scoring defense at 12.8 points per game, 16th in pass efficiency defense at 103.9 yards per game and 16th in total defense at 297.3 yards per game.
Louisiana Tech poses the biggest remaining test for the Aggies, ranked 11th in the country, averaging 523.40 yards per game — nearly twice what USU is allowing per game — while putting up an impressive 53.2 points per game.
And while BYU held the Utah State offense in check, San Jose State is the only defense left on the schedule ranked in the top 50 in the country, and Sophomore quarterback Chuckie Keeton and the offense have shown they can put up points in a hurry.
In four wins this season, the Aggies have averaged 32.3 points per game, compared to 8.5 in losses. So while defense wins ball games, Keeton and the offense must perform well if the Aggies are going to win a WAC championship this season and compete in the Mountain West as Andersen has said is the goal.
“We're really one mind. Our mindset football-wise is to compete and contend for the championship,” Andersen said. “We are recruiting into the Mountain West so it's something that we talk about often and we're very excited about the opportunity; it's going to be a great conference for us."
Turnovers remain a big concern for the Aggies, who are ranked among the worst in the country with a -1.00 turnover margin per game. Only 13 teams across the nation have a worse turnover margin. Against the Cougars, Utah State turned the ball over twice, with one interception and one fumble.