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Utah State football: Aggies zeroing focus on Utes' weapons

Published August 21, 2013 7:16 pm

Utah State football • Both teams eye other's quarterback as big threat.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Logan • Last September, guard Jamie Markosian was one of the linemen tasked with handling tackles Star Lotulelei and Dave Kruger.

He's glad that he won't have to face those two next week, now that they're in the NFL.

"It was tough every single down," Markosian said. "I had to be on my toes every single down. It taught me a lot about football, and that at the next level, every guy is going to be like that."

Sure, the Utes lost two of their standout defenders from last year to the pro ranks, but that doesn't mean Utah State is taking next Thursday's season opener any less seriously. Last year's win in Logan will be brushed off as the Aggies march into Salt Lake City.

Markosian said there shouldn't be much drop-off: He sees Trevor Reilly and Nate Orchard keeping the line's hands full.

"They've got some talented guys down there, and I think we're going to have to take every one of them into account," he said. "We try not to put anyone on a pedestal, but we treat everyone with respect."

That respect isn't limited to one side of the ball, much less one player. Reacting to Kyle Whittingham's comments about Chuckie Keeton being the "first, second and third thing" on Utah's priority list, Aggies coach Matt Wells said he couldn't pin down the Utes to one person.

Wells cited every position as a concern for Utah State, saying he thought quarterback Travis Wilson had improved and that he would "love to coach" tight end Jake Murphy. He did linger a bit longer on Utah's wide receivers.

"I see Dres [Anderson] and Kenneth [Scott], and that may be the best two-man combo of wideouts we'll see all year," Wells said. "One's got length and can go. The other one's quick and fast and elusive."

Defensive end B.J. Larsen echoed Wells' concerns about the Utes' passing attack, saying it would put a lot more responsibility on the line to get to Wilson.

"The defensive line and the front seven are going to have to get that timer going in the quarterback's head and get some pressure," Larsen said.

"Having said that, I think we're going to have to stop the run first, which I think we'll be able to do. Stop that second threat, and I think we should be good."

Freshmen still in question

A number of freshmen have stood out in camp. Hayden Weichers has looked reliable as a backup out of the slot, while Kennedy Williams has made a mark as a possible returner. Braelon Roberts surprised with two touchdown catches in Saturday's scrimmage, and quarterback Darell Garretson threw him one.

But will any of them see the field this year? Not sure yet, Wells said.

"Some of those will be game-time decisions, some of them will be week two or week three," he said. "That's the hard thing with young freshmen. Where do they fit? Are the guys in front of them playing well or getting hurt? Where do they fit on special teams is probably the biggest question. They have to merit play instead of redshirting."

kgoon@sltrib.com