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Utah State football: Ags still trying to figure out QB situation

Published October 10, 2013 10:48 am

USU notes • Harrison, Garretson still vying to take over for injured Keeton.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated.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 • Leading up to Utah State's game Saturday night, there's one question everyone wants answered.

Who will be the Aggies' starting quarterback?

Even into Wednesday's practice at Romney Stadium, the Aggies were still trying to work that out for themselves. Offensive coordinator Kevin McGiven said afterward both junior Craig Harrison and freshman Darell Garretson were getting equal reps, and Utah State coaches were waiting for one to assert himself as Chuckie Keeton's replacement.

"Still letting those guys battle it out," McGiven said. "We're trying to give both of them an opportunity to show that they can lead the offense."

The two vary greatly in experience: Harrison, a 24-year-old junior college vet, came in relief against BYU, while Garretson, a 19-year-old true freshman, was just signed last February. But Garretson's touch on his throws in fall camp hinted at an intriguing upside that Utah State might want to tap into with Keeton out this year.

Still, McGiven said, the offense as a whole is looking for improvement after putting up only 14 points against the Cougars. It doesn't matter who the quarterback is, in that sense.

"The gameplan doesn't change for either one of them," McGiven. "Both of them are going to have to rely on the linemen and the skill guys around them to play well. Hopefully that happens, and one of these guys will be ready to manage the offense."

Boise State's pass rush won't change with the quarterback. Ends DeMarcus Lawrence and Ricky Tjong-a-Tjoe and Beau Martin form one of the more dangerous rotations in the Mountain West.

McGiven compared the pressure they'll bring to BYU's attack. Batted passes at the line were a problem against the Cougars — Tjong-a-Tjoe has three this season.

Secondary preparing for Boise's Southwick

A week after getting beat deep by Taysom Hill, the Aggies wary of the next quarterback visiting Logan.

Joe Southwick, a senior second-year starter, sometimes gets knocked below the top tier of Mountain West quarterbacks. After watching a week of film on the Boise State passer, Utah State defensive coordinator Todd Orlando would put him among that group and add this: Southwick understands the game like few quarterbacks Utah State will face this year.

"He is exceptionally smart," Orlando said. "You see all the little nuances he's doing — setting people up, communicating, getting the right protections in, making sure every play is successful — I think that's where he's great. He still has the ability to move around the pocket and throws very accurate. I've been impressed with him."

Furthermore, Orlando noted, many of Boise's big games have already been primetime performances on national TV. There's no doubt he has some poise.

With Southwick, Boise State has bounced back from a season-opening clunker against Washington. Southwick has thrown for 1,254 yards and nine touchdowns while completing 73.4 percent of his passes. The Broncos have scored 40 or more in their last four games. —

Boise State at Utah State

O Saturday, 6 p.m.

TV • CBS Sports