Feb 18, 2019

Bulldog Game Day: Utah State

Dalton Runberg / The Collegian

Breakdown: Aggies

Utah State has started off its season in a similar manner as Fresno State. The Aggies have played a tough non-conference schedule, which is what head coach Pat Hill has done at Fresno State. In these games, Utah State was close to upsetting the reigning national champion Auburn Tigers and in-state rival BYU, but came up short losing in the fourth quarter of both contests.

Utah State has one of the best rushing attacks in the country with freshman quarterback Chuckie Keeton, who is a dual-threat style that has traditionally given Fresno State fits in the past. He is accompanied in the backfield by senior running back Robert Turbin, who has 599 yards and 10 touchdowns on the season. With such a productive rushing attack, the Aggies have opportunities open in the passing game.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Aggies are led by a couple of experienced players in senior linebacker Bobby Wagner, who was voted the preseason Western Athletic Conference defensive player of the year. Wagner is leading the team in tackles with 61 on the season. Another impact player on the defensive line is senior Levi Koskan, who leads the team with 3.5 sacks and 6.5 tackles for loss.

Breakdown: Bulldogs

Fresno State had a tough time with the No. 5 Boise State Broncos as it lost 57-7 on Friday. Now the ‘Dogs have to move forward toward their quest for their first outright Western Athletic Conference championship under Pat Hill.

The ‘Dogs will have to get back to the aggressive brand of football on the offensive side of the ball against the Aggies. This will start with getting starting quarterback Derek Carr in situations to utilize his big arm. Carr needs to find his weapons early and often this weekend.Junior running back Robbie Rouse had a tough game against Boise State and the ‘Dogs will need to use Rouse as the workhorse he has been throughout the early season. Senior wide receiver Devon Wylie hasn’t been the main target on offense, but has made his impact as a big-time punt returner. Wylie has two punt return touchdowns on the season.

On defense, senior defensive lineman Logan Harrell leads the team with 3.5 sacks and 10 tackles for loss. Harrell and company will need to keep contain against the Aggies’ vaunted rushing attack.

If the ‘Dogs can get back to where they were in the beginning of the season, then it should allow the offense to keep the Aggies’ offense on the sidelines.

Keys to Victory

1. Contain Turbin and Keeton
Fresno State will have one of the conference’s best rushing attacks come to Bulldog Stadium this Saturday. Utah State has senior running back Robert Turbin and quarterback Chuckie Keeton to challenge the Fresno State run defense from multiple looks.

2. Limit the ‘Big Play’
The ‘Dogs are still having trouble limiting the big play. Last Friday, Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore torched the Bulldogs’ pass defense all night. They will need to shore this area up if they want to come out of Saturday with a “W.”

3. Convert ‘Big Plays’
In the Boise State game, the ‘Dogs reverted back to their conservative style and it showed on the field. The Broncos do minated the offense. Fresno State will need to hit the deep ball to keep the Aggie “D” honest.

Position Match-ups

When Fresno State runs:
Advantage – Fresno State
RB Robbie Rouse had his worst game since the season opener against Boise State. Fresno State will need to feed Rouse the ball like it did earlier in the season.

When Utah State runs:
Advantage – Utah State
Fresno State had a tough time with Boise State’s rushing attack so this could be another tough week with RB Robert Turbin and QB Chuckie Keeton coming to Bulldog Stadium.

When Fresno State passes:
Advantage – Fresno State
Last Friday, QB Derek Carr had his worst game of his young collegiate career. Look for Carr to bounce back early and often against the Aggies.

When Utah State passes:
Advantage – Utah State
Kellen Moore and company were able to do whatever they wanted against Fresno State’s defense last week. Utah State’s rushing attack will open up opportunities in the passing game.

Special teams:
Advantage – Even
Kicker Kevin Goessling didn’t get any opportunities to make up for his poor performance against Mississippi. He should get his chance against Utah State.

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