Utah Utes vs Utah State Aggies: Matchups

Week 2 already?

The Utah Utes (1-0) take on one of their instate rivals the Utah State Aggies (1-0)

Friday night, September 11th, 2015

7:00pm MT inside Rice Eccles Stadium.

The last time these two teams met, August 29, 2013, the Utes were able to squeak out a victory 30-26.

Utah leads the all time series 78-29-4

Kyle Whittingham is 6-1 against the Aggies with his only loss coming in 2012

Matt Wells is 0-1 against the Utes with his only loss coming in 2013

The last time Utah State beat the Utes in Salt Lake City was waaaaaaayyyy back in 1997.

The Utes come into this game fresh off a victory against the Michigan Wolverines (24-17) while the Aggies are coming off a victory against Southern Utah University (12-9).

Let’s see how these two teams matchup.

QUARTERBACKS:

Travis Wilson/Kendal Thompson vs Chuckie Keeton

Really it’s Travis Wilson vs Chuckie Keeton but I fully expect to see A LOT of Kendal Thompson this game. Travis Wilson played great last Thursday against a tough Michigan defense while Keeton seemed to struggle against SUU. Wilson always seems to perform well against Utah State and Keeton has performed well against Utah in the past. However, I don’t think Keeton will perform well this time around.

Advantage: Utah

Reason: I think the Utes are going to bring the “heat” this time around and really test Keeton. I don’t see Utah State really giving the Utes any problems in the run or pass game. The Utes D Line should be able to put a lot of pressure on Keeton and I expect him to struggle.

RUNNING BACKS:

Devontae Booker/Joe Williams vs LaJuan Hunt/Devante Mays

Booker showed his versatility against Michigan. He showed why he is a threat running the ball and in the passing game. Not sure how much the Utes use Booker this game, I expect to see A LOT of Joe Williams and possibly some of the other backs get a lot of his touches. LaJuan Hunt looks like the lead dog for USU. Hunt led the Aggies with 80yds rushing. His backup Devante Mays chipped in 51yds.

Advantage: Utah

Reason: If Booker doesn’t get a lot of touches, I fully expect Williams to have a break out game. I don’t see Hunt or Mays doing a lot of damage against a stout Utes D.

WIDE RECEIVERS:

Collective group of Utes vs Collective group of Aggies

Outside of Britain Covey, no Ute or Aggie receiver had that great of a day week 1. Not saying Covey had that great of a day either but he was the only one to eclipse 50yds in receiving. Interesting matchup here as neither group has really had anyone step up to be that “go to” guy. The Utes passing game is still a work in progress. The Aggies were missing a couple of their better receivers game 1, remains to be seen if they return against the Utes. I believe as a whole, the Utes have more talent at receiver and should be able to outperform the Aggies.

Advantage: Utah

Reason: I expect the Utes to play everyone this game and I expect someone to breakout for them. The loss of JoJo Natson really hurt the Aggies receiving group as he was their “go to” guy and playmaker.

TIGHT ENDS:

Siale Fakailoatonga/Harrison Handley vs Wyatt Houston

The loss of Evan Moeai hurts but Fakailoatonga and Handley have shown that they can fill the void. Wyatt Houston is a decent tight end for the Aggies and should see a good amount of action against the Utes. If Keeton is under a lot of pressure, Houston may see a lot of balls thrown his way.

Advantage: Utah

Reason: I just think that the Utes have a lot more talent and depth than the Aggies at almost every position including Tight End.

OFFENSIVE LINE:

Utes O Line vs Aggies O Line

The Utes O line held their own against a tough Michigan front seven last game. Even though they could’ve done a better job of opening holes and giving Wilson a little more time to make some throws, the Utes O line played pretty well for the first game. The Aggies O line seemed to struggle a little bit with SUU, which in turn caused their whole offense to struggle.  There’s a big difference in the defensive lines of Michigan and SUU in my opinion.

Advantage: Utah

Reason: The Utes O Line shouldn’t have any trouble opening up holes this Friday for their run game. Their pass blocking was pretty good against Michigan so I don’t expect it to falter against Utah State. Utah States O line has a tough task ahead of them in stopping a defensive line that is hungry for sacks.

DEFENSIVE LINE:

Utes D Line vs Aggies D Line

It was a little bit uncharacteristic of the Utes to not get a sack against Michigan so I expect this team to bring some pressure this Friday. Although Keeton is a threat to run, I think the Utes will try their best to make him uncomfortable in all facets of the game. I expect the Utes to live up to their nickname (Sack Lake City) this Friday night. The Aggies have some decent players along their line. Most notably David Moala and Ricky Ali’ifua. Both guys are big, fast off the line and strong.

Advantage: Utah

Reason: Utah is more talented, has more depth and I expect them to get at least 5+ sacks. I think USU will have a tough time stopping Utah’s run game and getting to the QB.

LINEBACKERS:

Whittingham/ Paul/Norris vs Fackrell/Filiaga/Green/Vigil

Another good battle to pay attention to. Both teams have very good linebackers. Paul and Norris are two of the best linebackers in the country and they along with Whittingham played quite solid against Michigan. I believe that Fackrell and Vigil are two of the best linebackers in the country as well. Both teams have linebackers that are up for end of the season awards. Both teams rely upon their linebackers for leadership. A very good battle to watch.

Advantage: Utah

Reason: If I felt this was going to be a more competitive game I would probably put this matchup as EVEN. I have a feeling the Utes are going to be playing a lot of 2’s and 3’s this game not just because it’s going to be a blowout but to get their guys some experience and to keep the 1’s healthy for conference play. That being said this is a rivalry game so anything can happen but I expect the Utes D to be able to dominate the Aggies O and I expect the Utes O to be able to dominate the Aggies D. Fackrell and Vigil are both playmakers and Filiaga isn’t half bad either so I do expect some competition from this group.

DEFENSIVE BACKS:

Butler-Byrd/Porter/Carter/Williams/Thomas vs Davis/Hines/Centers/Evans

The Utes defensive backs played pretty well last game. 3 interceptions, 1 returned for a touchdown. They did have some miscues and make some mistakes, they also had a lot of cramping, but overall they played pretty well for game 1. USU gave up 1 touchdown through the air to SUU but other than that the play of their defense wasn’t bad. USU wasn’t able to get any interceptions against SUU.

Advantage: Utah

Reason: Talent, Depth, remains to be seen but if Hatfield is able to play that is huge as well.

SPECIAL TEAMS:

Neither team had any Kick Returns last game.

Utah only had 1 Punt Return for 14yds by Covey.

Andrew Rodriguez had 8 Punt Returns for 136yd and 1 TD.

Brock Warren made his only FG of the night a 30 yarder.

Aaron Dalton punted 13 times for 463 yards with a long of 48.

Andy Phillips had an off night missing 2 FGs.

Tom Hackett had some pretty good punts and one punt that the refs robbed him on that was clearly inside the 5.

Advantage: Utah

Reason: Hackett and Phillips are two of the best in the nation, they both had rough nights that I expect them to bounce back from. Nothing stands out for the Utes or Aggies in the kick return game after 1 game. USU has a talented PR, will he be able to do the same against Utah? Remains to be seen.

COACHING:

Whittingham and Staff vs Wells and Staff

Whittinghamis 6-1 against Utah State.

Wells is 0-1 against Utah.

Advantage: Utah

Reason: Whittingham is on another level.

HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE:

UTAH

Reason: Loudness, The MUSS, The NEZ

OVERALL:

I expect the Utes to win 42-17

I expect Utah to play a lot of 2’s and 3’s this game. It’s a game the Utes cannot afford to overlook though as it is a rivalry game and USU will be prepared and looking for an upset. I just think the Utes are more talented and have more depth across the board.

#GoUtes

About the author

Patrick Thomsen

Co-Host for the Ute Talk Podcast. Husband, Father and Life-Long Utah Fan!!! #GoUtes
Follow me on Twitter @patrickt30 and follow Ute Talk @utetalkpodcast

  • symetriic

    You must have missed the memo, but USU has a new logo, as of 2012. https://goo.gl/h5s0Bv

    • Patrick Thomsen

      Fixed.

  • Scott Needham

    People said they had more talent across the board 3 years ago. Aggies won. They said they had more talent 2 years ago, Aggies controlled most the game (rewatch it and see who looked like the better team). I appreciate the analysis but they still play the game for a reason.

    • Patrick Thomsen

      2013 usu did control them pretty much the whole game. Utes had to come back and barely squeaked by. 2012 usu def outplayed the Utes. Be interesting to see what happens this year. Utes could very well overlook them and lay an egg or they could blow them out. Gonna be a fun game to watch, I doubt usu plays like they did against Suu that’s for sure but I think the Utes are gonna win.

  • Nathan Wheldon

    I can sum up this analysis in one sentence. “I can’t be bothered to actually look up anything about the opponent but the Utes are in the PAC-12 so they must have better talent at every position and will roll anyone not in the PAC-12.”

    I hope the Utah team thinks they just have to show up and their offense will roll over USUs defense without even trying.

    • Patrick Thomsen

      lol. Ya that’s what I did for sure. Not much to look up beating SUU 12-9 but I did say some good things about the group I feel matches up the best with Utah and that would be USU’s linebackers. Are the Utes more talented and deeper at every position YES. Does that mean they will win the game? Who knows? I guess we will see Friday.