Utah State football: Aggies need to clean up turnovers going forward
College football • USU focusing on eliminating penalties.
Published: September 15, 2012 03:56PM
Updated: December 25, 2012 11:32PM
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Scott Sommerdorf | The Salt Lake Tribune Utah DL Joe Kruger hits USU QB Chuckie Keeton from behind and causes this fumble that was recovered by Utah's Nate Fakahafua during second half play. Later Kruger was thrown out of the game for fighting. The USU Aggies beat Utah 27-20 in OT, Friday, September 7, 2012.

Logan • Make no mistake. Not all is perfect with Utah State football.

Nationally, the Aggies are receiving a lot of attention for their 2-0 start to the season, the program’s best in 15 years. And to be sure, USU is a trendy pick to be competitive with a depleted Wisconsin team on Saturday night at Camp Randall Stadium.

But, the Aggies weren’t perfect in their win over Utah last week. There were 12 penalties for 101 yards. There were two turnovers, both of which led to points the other way. There were missed assignments in the running game. Chuckie Keeton was pressured for most of the night.

This became a major emphasis for USU in practice this week — playing mistake-free football and cleaning up turnovers against the Badgers. Heading into one of the most intimidating stadiums in college football, the Aggies know that anything less can result in the first loss of the season.

“Did we commit too many penalties? Yes,” head coach Gary Andersen said. “There were some ignorant ones sprinkled here and there. On some others, I wasn’t as bothered. But we have to address them both. We have to have better ball security, because if we don’t it will cost us a game somewhere down the road. So we have to get better at this.”

The penalties are becoming the bugaboo for Utah State. Through two games, the Aggies have committed 22 of them, which rankles Andersen, who is a perfectionist.

On Saturday, USU will face a Wisconsin team coming off an embarrassing defeat at Oregon State.

The Badgers promptly fired their offensive line coach the next day and are looking at the matchup against the Aggies almost like a must-win.

“We know that Wisconsin is going to come at us with everything they have,” linebacker Bojay Filimoeatu said. “We have to stay humble and hungry at the same time. With our defense playing the way it has the last two games, I think we can do anything right now. But we have to take things one game at a time. We have to have everyone step up.”

For a defensive game plan, USU will attempt to put the Badgers in third-down-and-long situations, making quarterback Danny O’Brien beat the Aggies with his arm. As of Friday, Wisconsin wideout Jared Abbrederis was a gametime decision after suffering a mild concussion in the Oregon State loss.

His presence, or absence, could have a major impact on the outcome.

tjones@sltrib.com

Twitter: @tonyaggieville

Utah State at Wisconsin

P At Camp Randall Stadium (Madison, Wis.)

Kickoff • Saturday, 6 p.m.

TV • Big Ten Network

Radio • 97.5 FM

Series history • Utah State leads 1-0

Last meeting • Utah State 20, Wisconsin 0 (Oct. 12, 1968)

About the Aggies • USU is playing back-to-back BCS opponents for the first time since 2003. … USU is 1-12 all-time against Big Ten Conference opponents. … Gary Andersen will be facing his first Big Ten opponent as Utah State’s head coach. … Aggie players Josh Larmay and Marquan Ellison are from Wisconsin. … USU is 46-173-5 against BCS schools.

About the Badgers • Wisconsin has won 17 consecutive games at Camp Randall Stadium. … The Badgers’ 40 home wins since 2006 are the most in the country. … Running back Montee Ball saw his streak of 21 consecutive games with a touchdown snapped at Oregon State. ... Wisconsin is 18-7 against the Western Athletic Conference.