LOGAN — The question on the minds of many fans leading up to the BYU-Utah State tilt is who starts at quarterback for the Cougars? Will the Aggies get a second chance against their former quarterback Riley Nelson? The decision may not be made until game time, but that isn’t stopping Utah State coach Gary Andersen from finding the inside scoop.
“I know Doc Nelson (Riley's father) really well, so he’ll tell me if his boy is playing,” Andersen said after the Aggies' victory on Saturday. “If not, I’ll go underground into his house and find out if he’s playing.”
No matter who the Cougars line up under center, the Aggies expect to be prepared. Last season, Nelson’s ability to make plays with his feet hurt Utah State after preparing for pocket-passer Jake Heaps all week long.
“They are both good quarterbacks and are both really good with their feet. It’s a similar preparation for each of the two quarterbacks,” safety McKade Brady said of Nelson and Taysom Hill. “We’ll just prepare for both and see what happens. I think our coaches do a great job with game planning for those types of situations.”
RIVALRIES AGAIN: Andersen has said multiple times one of his first goals at Utah State was to turn games against in-state foes Utah and BYU back into rivalries by playing competitive football. The Aggies have turned the heat up in both games by collecting victories, in 2010 against BYU and this season against Utah, but have yet to come away with a win on the road. Andersen knows that breaking through on the road and taking home a victory from LaVell Edwards Stadium will be no easy task.
“BYU is a very difficult place to play as far as a noise standpoint,” Andersen said. “You have to keep your cool. Playing against a good defense like that, when you have an opportunity to make a play, you have to make it.”
Utah State can bring the rivalry to another level with a victory on the road. The Aggies have not won in Provo since 1978 and have not beaten Utah and BYU in the same year since 1971.
Utah State is traveling to BYU for the second consecutive year due to a previous agreement, but don’t expect that to become the norm. Both Andersen and athletic director Scott Barnes have been very vocal about getting in-state rivalries with Utah and BYU back to a home-and-home basis.
“Hopefully this is the last time we go down there two years in a row,” Andersen said on Monday.
According to the current arrangement, BYU is scheduled to travel to Logan next season and Utah State will visit Provo in 2014 and 2015.
KEETON, BENNETT HONORED: Utah State quarterback Chuckie Keeton was named WAC Offensive Player of the Week for his performance against UNLV. The sophomore quarterback threw for 402 yards, the 10th highest total in school history, and four touchdowns. Aggie punter Tyler Bennett also took home an award this week, taking home the College Football Performance Awards National Punter of the Week award. Bennett punted five times against the Rebels for an average of 47.4 yards with all five punts being downed inside the 20-yard line.
Kraig Williams is a 2010 Utah State University graduate and regular Deseret News sports blogger. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or followed on Twitter at DesNewsKraig.