USU quarterback Chuckie Keeton earlier this week believed the offense he guides would face a mighty challenge against UTSA. UTSA's defensive front entering the contest ranked first in the WAC in total defense, rushing yards allowed per game, interceptions and first downs allowed. The Roadrunners also ranked in the top 20 nationally in all those categories.
After the Aggies racked up 48 points and 522 total yards, however, there wasn't any doubt left about whether the Aggies had conquered that challenge. And by allowing just 17 points and 299 in the same respective categories, USU's defense reciprocated rather well, too, as the Aggies continued their best start since 1978.
Here is how USU graded after its 48-17 win over UTSA:
Offense: USU scored more than 40 points for the third straight contest and greater than 30 in five of the past six. Keeton (27-of-36, 340 yards, three touchdowns), who was playing in front of much of his 2011 Cypress High School graduating class, was once again tremendous in his 18th career game. Outside of an interception, the all-time completion percentage leader hardly had a problem leading the offense to 48 points before the third quarter ended, when he called it a day. Even Keeton's backup, sophomore Craig Harrison (5-of-6, 54 yards), was effective in the final stanza. And how about this: 12 receivers caught at least one pass, led by Williams and his backup Joe Hill with three apiece. Sixth-year senior Matt Austin had two after nabbing one last week against New Mexico State — though he had 13 in just the two previous weeks against the Cougars and San Jose State.
Offensive coordinator Matt Wells insisted last week he didn't expect Kerwynn Williams to play poorly all season outside of the BYU game. Williams (13 carries, 90 yards, two touchdowns) maintained that prediction. A couple of turnovers only ultimately taint this grade a little, however. GRADE: A-
Defense: This group actually allowed more points than its nationally seventh-ranked self has yielded on average per game (13.9) this season. Considering that UTSA is averaging more than 32 points per game, however, that's not so bad. (Then again, the Roadrunners scored 27 points or more only in their first five contests against the likes of South Alabama and Northwestern Oklahoma State. They have scored 24 or less in the past three games against better teams Rice, San Jose State and USU.) Aggie cornerback Will Davis earned honorable-mention national recognition awards last week after his first career interception. Against UTSA, he got another one. With junior starter Eric Soza out, freshman Ryan Polite was left to face USU's staunch front. He threw for 248 yards but undid much of the good with two picks. That effort was largely undone anyway by UTSA recording just 51 rushing yards. Linebackers Jake Doughty and freshman phenom Kyler Fackrell led with seven stops apiece. GRADE: B+
Special Teams: WAC Special Teams Player of the Week Nick Diaz lived up to his billing with a 2-of-2 effort on field goals, though neither was beyond 24 yards. Still, the redshirt sophomore certainly didn't do anything to yield the spot back to junior Josh Thompson, who missed critical field goals in the Aggies' two defeats at Wisconsin and BYU. Senior receiver Cameron Webb did a nice job on punt returns, with three for 40 yards. The Aggies also locked down on UTSA's return efforts. GRADE: A-
Overall: UTSA's overall record (5-2) entering the game may have concerned some — including the Aggies' signal-caller — but no worry was necessary. USU asserted itself as a legitimate candidate to win the WAC and join competitor Louisiana Tech in the national rankings. This win at least made clear that the rest of the conference this fall really is a level below the Aggies and Bulldogs. GRADE: A-
Rhett Wilkinson studies interesting stuff at Utah State University and is the co-founder of Aggie BluePrint, USU's first student magazine. Previously an intern for the Deseret News, he can be reached at email@example.com or tweet him @wilklogan