It wasn’t the script that we had written or planned. —Utah State head coach Matt Wells
LOGAN — If there was any question as to how indispensable quarterback Chuckie Keeton is, the answer came on Friday night. A competitive 10-7 ball game in the first quarter slowly evolved into a BYU blowout that Utah State fans thought was a thing of the past when Keeton went down with an apparent left knee injury midway through the first quarter.
There was no immediate prognosis on Keeton available after the game, but head coach Matt Wells told the media that "it doesn’t look good" following the game.
The injury took the air out of a sold-out Romney Stadium crowd and left the Aggies looking flat offensively for most of the game.
“It wasn’t the script that we had written or planned,” Wells said after the game.
Craig Harrison replaced Keeton at quarterback but was unable to do much against a potent BYU defense. Harrison, a junior from Grantsville High School, to his credit was able to avoid big mistakes. In his first drive, Harrison was stripped by Uani 'Unga, but BYU was unable to cash the turnover into points.
Harrison threw no interceptions, but most of his passes didn’t find their intended receiver either, as he finished just 18-41 passing for 184 yards. With the outcome already decided Harrison was able to lead the Aggies on a touchdown drive, capping it off with an 8-yard scoring toss to Ronald Butler, bringing a glimmer of hope about potential to come.
“The biggest thing we need to do is sustain drives,” Harrison said about the offense's struggles. “We would get a first down or a big play and then we’d be fighting the chains.”
As the backup quarterback, Harrison is the most likely candidate to start next week against Boise State should Keeton’s injury prove to be as serious as it looked on Friday night. The hope for Aggie fans is that with a week of practice and a playbook more tailored to Harrison’s strengths, the offense can rebound from a rough outing.
Linebacker Zach Vigil commented after the game that the Aggies' goal of winning a Mountain West title is still in sight and the hunt for that begins again next week against Boise State. Without Keeton, the odds for that look long, but Wells isn’t about to accept any excuses.
“It’s the greatest team sport ever invented,” Wells said. “Not one kid can win it. We aren’t a bunch of individuals. We aren’t about one kid. We are about to find out if we are or not.”
Kraig Williams is a 2010 Utah State University graduate and regular Deseret News sports blogger. He can be followed on Twitter @DesNewsKraig.