Utah defensive lineman Tenny Palepoi has a simple plan for stopping Utah State quarterback Chuckie Keeton, who has a knack for complicating things with dual threat capabilities.
“Just get to him,” Palepoi said.
As many teams know, getting to Keeton is easier said than done. Keeton completed 22-of-32 passes for 216 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed 17 times for 86 yards in the Aggies’ victory a year ago.
To prepare for him, the Utes have used freshmen quarterbacks Micah Thomas and Brandon Cox on the scout teams and have practiced scramble plays where the defense has to stay in coverage 6-to-8 seconds, Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said.
“We’ve done our best to duplicate what our chief strengths are so we’ll have to see what happens,” he said.
Utah’s defensive issues are inexperienced corners and safeties, players Keeton probably will be betting will make mistakes on which he can capitalize.
Defensive end Trevor Reilly doesn’t think that will happen.
“Hopefully we are prepared for it,” he said.
It has been almost a year since the teams met, but Reilly still hasn’t gotten over the loss to the Aggies, particularly since he didn’t agree with some of the calls at the end of the game. Still sticking with him was a touchdown catch by Jake Murphy in overtime that was nullified by a pass interference call on Murphy.
“I think it was a bad call, but we should have played better early on so we wouldn’t be in that situation,” he said.
Backup defensive end Jason Whittingham will miss Thursday’s game while recovering from hand surgery, he is expected to be available for the Weber State game...It’s unknown how much senior linebacker Brian Blechen can play Thursday due to tendinitis. Reilly is listed as a co-starter at linebacker along with Blechen.