LOGAN — Time heals all wounds, but it might take a while for Utah State to stop hurting after coming up just short in a 42-38 loss at Auburn on Saturday.
"I think that there is a part of me that is on that field that will be there forever; I know that much, "said Aggie coach Gary Andersen. "That was as difficult a loss as I have ever been around, and I have been around some great victories and some difficult losses."
Andersen acknowledged that the team had plenty of positives to take away from the game, but refused to take any moral victories. Instead of the team's usual Monday morning meeting, Andersen gathered the team on the field at Romney Stadium and refocused them for their upcoming game with Weber State.
"I felt like the best thing was to get the team out, put them out on their field and let them understand how close they are to having that logo be known across the nation as a quality football program," Andersen said. "That is a driving force for myself, for the football team, for Cache Valley, for Utah State. It matters and it matters a lot that people are starting to recognize us, but we have got to recognize that with wins."
TAKING NOTE: While Utah State was unable to pull off the upset, the Aggies did get the nation's attention on the first Saturday of the college football season.
Utah State became the No. 1 trending topic on Twitter and had several college football analysts singing its praises throughout the contest.
"Can't say enough about Utah State's execution, poise and toughness on the road at Auburn. They were ready," ESPN analyst Pat Forde tweeted.
Quarterback Chuckie Keeton and Gary Andersen were also among the nation's trending topics on Saturday afternoon.
KEETON HONORED: For his outstanding performance Keeton was named rivals.com National Freshman of the Week. Keeton went 21-of-30 passing for 213 yards and added another 33 yards and two touchdowns rushing. Riley Nelson was the last Aggie freshman to start at QB back in 2006 and no freshman has started the first game of the season for Utah State in the modern era.
"I thought Chuckie Keeton was fantastic for a first-time starter as a true freshman," said Andersen. "Obviously, we felt he was the guy who could go in and do it, but there is always questions with a freshman, especially a brand new freshman walking into that environment. … He played very, very well and we look forward to having him do that many more times in his career."
CHANGE OF PLANS: Andersen's plan prior to the Auburn game was to use both Keeton and Adam Kennedy at quarterback, but Keeton's high level of play changed the plan early into the game.
"The plan was to play two quarterbacks, but the game obviously dictated that to be different. You can't argue with the success that Keeton had in that football game," Andersen said.
Keeton will remain the starter for the foreseeable future with Kennedy being an option in certain situations according to Andersen.
Copyright 2015, Deseret News Publishing Company