Broncos prepare for new Aggies QB, stout defense

Paul Gerke

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Broncos prepare for new Aggies QB, stout defense

CREATED Oct. 11, 2013

At the Mountain West media days, Utah State gave out Chuckie Keeton trading cards with an inscription reading ‘Heisman Candidate.’

Keeton may have been one, until he tore his ACL and MCL in last week’s game against BYU.

"The injury to the quarterback and all those things was probably a little unsettling to those guys," explained Boise State coach Chris Petersen. "But like any good team, they’ve got players. One guy isn’t going to sink them."

Keeton had thrown 18 touchdown passes this season before his injury, the third-most in the country. Now the Aggies will turn to junior Craig Harrison, who completed just 43% of his attempts last week.

"I think it’s great to play against great competition, that’s what you want as an athlete and a competitor," said Bronco quarterback Joe Southwick. "At the end of the day, it’s just about scoring more than the other team; whether that’s playing against Joe Montana or Joe Schmo."

Petersen said he didn't know much about Harrison, but he thinks Utah State won't change its game plan much.

"Our guys just have to take care of our assignments. Whether their first string our second string quarterback is in there, they’re still going to come up with things we haven’t seen," he explained. "So all this tape we have after five games, which is way more than we can run against our defense in practice, they’re also going to have a couple completely new wrinkles. It's impossible to get your guys completely dialed in."

Utah State head coach Matt Wells spoke highly of runningback Joe Hill this summer, but the injury bug has bitten him too. Hill is out with an ACL injury of his own. Senior Joey DeMartino will get the start in the backfield. He has averaged over six yards per carry, surprising some opponents with big plays.

"If you haven’t covered our program, they’re all going to be surprises except for Chuckie," joked Wells.

Coach Petersen recognizes the skill Utah State boasts on defense. The Aggies are allowing just 19.3 points per game (26th in FCS).

"Offense always steals the headlines, and they’ve been doing a great job with their offense... But very much over-shadowed was their defense," he said.

"I think saying they’re 'multiple' would be an understatement," added Southwick. "They do a lot on defense and they’re a really good group. I think it might be the strongest point of their team."

"Their playbook is probably the thickest we’ve seen so far. I think it just shows they have smart players," he continued.

The early Vegas line has Boise State as a 6.5 point favorite in Saturday's game, but Petersen is prepared to go right down to the wire.

"We’ll be tested, it’ll be a tight game, and we’ll see how we’ll handle all the things we talked about and see if we have improved," he said.