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Utah State mailbag — Breaking down the QBs, plus more

Published October 7, 2013 9:45 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated.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 • Quarterback, quarterback quarterback - even before Matt Wells announced Monday that Craig Harrison and Darell Garretson were going to compete for the starting job, that's all you guys wanted to know about.

I don't blame you.

Utah State had a tough enough road ahead with Chuckie Keeton. Now without him, the Aggies will be looking for playmakers to step up, including Harrison or Garretson. Or maybe both at different parts of the season.

Let's just jump in:

I'm trying to be optimistic, but Chuckie was prettty much everything we had — and I'm fearful that the offense goes right in the tank without him. Also, it has to be devastating to the locker room. Any chance that the offense (the entire team, really), is able to hold things together and remain competitive. Or is the season about to get away from us? - Dan

Competitive? Yes. You look at the rest of the games, and even if Utah State can't work up the offense it had, it still probably will be favored in a chunk of them.

New Mexico has given up a ton of points and has beaten only UTEP (in a close one) and New Mexico State. Hawaii is winless. Colorado State has one FBS win, also over UTEP. Both UNLV and Wyoming look better than last season, but certainly are beatable.

How competitive Utah State is, well that's up for debate. With maybe the exception of Hawaii, I would call any of those games a very likely win for Utah State. I would hazard a guess that Utah State should win enough of them to be bowl-eligible, but they will be closer contests.

Honestly, Utah State still has a chance to compete for the division. But the Aggies must, must, MUST beat Boise State this weekend. And with their injuries, that's a very tall order. At this point, they're a clear underdog in that fight just a week removed from looking like the possible favorite.

This is just my opinion. Utah State could come out this week swinging with an upset of Boise State, and the power swings back in their favor. The Aggies certainly believe they still can do that. But it's a long shot considering they'll be starting either a junior college backup or a true freshman at quarterback. Which leads into our next question ...

With Chuckie presumably being done for the season, and most of us not having seen an Aggie qb not named Keeton or Kennedy for the past three seasons, can you profile some of the other qb's who might see snaps for the rest of the year(strengths, weaknesses, etc)? Also, any chance Tae [sic] Glover-Wright might see some action at qb like he did a couple of seasons ago? Any thoughts of pulling a redshirt off someone? - Greg, West Jordan

First off, let's just say this: Tay Glover-Wright is probably out of this one. He's a starting corner, he's taken corner reps all year. I haven't seen him once at QB. It's not impossible, but highly improbable that Utah State starts inserting him in when he hasn't taken reps this year. It's down to Craig Harrison, and Darell Garretson. Hopefully we'll have more on these guys this week, but here's a brief skinny.

Harrison is a Grantsville native who started at Snow College, where he threw for 2,181 yards and 19 touchdowns with a 53.8 percent completion rating. The Badgers, of course, have a completely different-looking offense, but Harrison has also been in the system for a bit longer at Utah State, seeing limited game reps last year. He's 24, married, and that understandably gives him some maturity. He entered the game last week as the back-up, and had a pretty modest night, completing only 18 of 41 attempts. He was able to scramble a bit, and also led a touchdown drive at the end of the game.

The natural assumption these days, it seems, is to assign hope and potential to the younger guy. Garretson does indeed have potential. He threw for 3,065 yards and 27 touchdowns against six interceptions at Chandler (Ariz.) High, and also rushed for 347 yards and seven scores. He was named the top QB in Arizona as a senior. Of course, there is the whole freshman aspect. Garretson has only been in the program since the summer started, and is only 19. He's also about 6 feet tall, and overall probably still has to grow a bit into his body.

In the fall, Harrison was the clear back-up, even as Wells said it was an open competition. Harrison appeared more in control of the offense as a whole, and looked a bit more consistent. At the same time, Garretson is definitely toolsy: He has a strong and fairly precise arm, and fans might remember he was 9-for-11 in the final Utah State scrimmage for 122 yards. Still, anyone watching his highlight tape from high school has to temper their expectations.

Of course, the scrimmage will say little this week about Boise State. Who matches up best? Hard to say sitting on the outside of closed practices. My opinion is that Garretson has some more clear upside and may be a better fit overall in the offense. Presumably, he was recruited as the quarterback of the future, and with Keeton out, the future may begin now. But if the coaching staff doesn't think he's ready to start, Harrison can manage games for the Aggies until he's ready.

Can't emphasize enough: Matt Wells will not give us any hints into what might happen this week. My analysis is mostly based on my own observations. But considering that he is calling this a QB competition, he must be seeing some encouraging things from Garretson to believe he can play. Garretson has been travelling with the team on the road so far.

What are the possibilities/likelihood Chuckie gets an injury redshirt? - @SteveGodfrey8

Steve, you're maybe the 10th person to ask me this, so I probably should've done a better job addressing this in my stories. NCAA rules dictate that a player typically can only have played in 30 percent or less of his team's games that season. With Keeton starting six, he wouldn't meet that criteria. Under those same guidelines, Kyle Whimpey and Joe Hill also would not be eligible.

There is a review process of denials for "exceptional cases," under bylaw 14.2.4.2.1 (I think, because the language is convoluted) that there's a little figurative wiggle room in that clause. However, there isn't really a strict definition of what an exceptional case is. Some readers have asked if Keeton's missed games in 2011 could be added to his games in 2013. I don't know of any established precedent of that happening, but that may be a factor that comes up in a review.

That being said: I would not count on it. If Keeton and the other injured players get a redshirt, that would be against the odds. Bryce Walker, who was injured before the season, would be the only one eligible, and he already had a redshirt medical year in 2011.

There's another factor to consider: Keeton and Whimpey especially stand to perhaps go on to pro careers. I believe Whimpey would like another season to play with his brother, but he is also excited about the prospect of seeing what he can do in the NFL. Likewise, after his senior year, Keeton may well be draftable quarterback. His knee injury may make him think about whether he's ready to pursue his pro options in 2015. That last part on Keeton is more speculative, but no athlete has a goal to be in college forever.

How does the PF position look with injury to Clifford? Is Kyle Davis good enough? - @BradenGreen1

That position was already a weak one headed into the season. Kyisean Reed's graduation left Clifford as the only guy who plays that spot regularly with experience, although Jordan Stone played some there last year.

I've heard positive things about Davis. Preston Medlin told me he thought Davis had been one of the team's hardest workers in summer, and Stew Morrill seems to be satisfied with the way Davis has come along. Davis is 6-foot-8, a former standout at Alta, and he contributed significantly for Southern Utah as a freshman.

He'll have to prove he can play at a Mountain West level. Going against USC's more athletic team will be jumping into the fire. The good news is he doesn't have to do it alone: Danny Berger, Jalen Moore and Sean Harris will all chip in on front court time. Utah State will probably run a few four-guard sets to spread out the floor and mix up attacks against opponents. It will definitely be a little bit of creative scheming until Clifford is back to provide more experience and depth.

This has nothing to do with the question, but to get in a basketball mood, why don't you check out this story on new 2014 recruit Henry Bolton? It's getting colder - stay up to date.

That's it for this week, folks. My fingers are tired. Keep sending me stuff via Twitter or kgoon@sltrib.com for the mailbag every Monday afternoon.

— Kyle Goonkgoon@sltrib.comTwitter: @kylegoon