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Utah State mailbag — more bowl projections, hoops handchecks, plus more

Published December 2, 2013 9:47 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This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated.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.

It's championship week for Utah State football. I wish I had something special to add to that, but here in Aggieville, it's just a normal Monday Mailbag.

This week, I'm tackling some questions about bowls (again) and basketball defense. Remember if you have a burning Utah State athletics question, you can send it along through Twitter (@kylegoon) or via e-mail. Please send stuff in!

Here we go:

mailbag Q: if we win title game on Sat what's our Bowl bid look like? If we loose [sic] whats our Bowl bid look like? Likely opponents? - @AustinGalb

I see you guys can't get enough bowl talk.

My understanding from comments from bowl officials and league officials is that if Utah State wins, it's through to Las Vegas (Dec. 21). That's not a guaratee, but given the geographic proximity, the traditional understanding the winner gets to go there, and the fact that the Aggies would be on a 6-game winning streak and Fresno State would have lost two straight, it slants in Utah State's favor.

It sounds like most fans would like this, matched up with a Pac-12 team. One problem right now is USC is slotted for that bowl from the Pac-12, and Vegas probably doesn't want to double up on a match-up from early in the season. Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson said today he's "had that conversation," but he was "99 percent sure" the champion would go to Vegas.

The picture becomes a lot murkier if Utah State loses.

There's no way Las Vegas passes up Fresno State if the Bulldogs win the championship, so that's out. Then there's the Poinsetta Bowl in San Diego (Dec. 26), which traditionally takes the team with the best record for a good match-up. That's either Utah State or Boise, with eight wins apiece. Boise could be the more attractive selection, with a bigger national brand and larger overall following. San Diego State also might also be in the mix, even though they've been to the bowl twice in the last three years.

The Poinsetta is expected to host an at-large, which could wind up being Arizona, Washington State or Oregon State from the Pac-12. Or it could be another bowl-eligible team from another region - several projections have Ohio or Toledo, ironically the Aggies' last two bowl opponents.

I think the lowest landing spot for Utah State would be the Armed Forces Bowl in Ft. Worth (Dec. 30). They would play Navy, which has a terrific storyline with Matt Wells' history there, and the Midshipmen look like a tougher match-up with a potential 8-4 season by the time they face off in the bowl. The Aggies probably have a better bead in Texas than the Aztecs, and Utah State would be glad to go there because they've been emphasizing recruiting the Dallas-Ft. Worth area. It would be good exposure in a talent-rich region where Utah State has built some good connections.

The new calls for hand checks and charging could mean trouble for Stew's D. Thoughts? #USU - @goustate

I first want to direct you to the story my colleague Tony Jones did on this a few weeks ago, breaking down the general effect the rules will have. Tony is a basketball junkie, and he can read really deep into this stuff, but then again, it didn't take an expert to see how much Utah State's defense struggled in the second half of a 85-74 loss to BYU.

On one hand, I think BYU deserves credit for making a ton of shots against Utah State on Saturday, but you also see that the Cougars' style makes it very hard for the Aggies to defend. Stew Morrill said afterward that the Aggies had trouble getting back on defense because they kept missing shots. BYU's transition offense was feasting on all those misses.

But the Cougars were scoring a lot as well in the first, and because they have so many cuts to the basket (and now cutters can't be bumped) and guys who can dribble into the lane (and now you can't handcheck penetrators), they're simply hard for anyone to stop. The Aggies had trouble staying in front of those athletes, and if you're a step slow, you can't reach out to check a guy with your arm.

That's going to be a problem in a league of athletic, slashing guards and perimeter players. Boise State has been simply impossible to stop thanks to a host of guys who can get to the basket. Kendall Williams has looked effective for New Mexico, both in scoring and creating baskets. San Diego State and UNLV always have athletes who can slash. Sooner or later, Utah State will have to shore up their man defense and try to get the faster step in front of those kinds of players. They simply can't be as physical on defense as they used to be.

mailbag question: with the extra games are we able to redshirt some of our injured? Ie keeton, whimpey, hill - @USU_Zach

Don't think so. The requirement is that a player can't be in more than 30 percent of the team's games, and everyone who was lost for the season - excluding Bryce Walker - was lost after the USC game, which wouldn't been the last game to possibly meet the requirement. Also, a bowl game doesn't actually count toward that requirement. So nothing has changed on that front.

I've had a conversation or two about Kyle Whimpey's eligibility, and I heard earlier in the year that Utah State would look to see if they could get him back a year from Idaho State. That process would last until perhaps a few months after the season is over. But Kyle Whimpey was honored on Senior Day this past weekend, so maybe that's a sign that he's moving on? I'll try to follow up soon on this.

Hi Kyle - why was Nevin Lawson held out in the first quarter? - @briandhunt

Just including this in case some people missed it, because a jillion people asked me on Saturday. Wells said afterward it was an internal issue. Utah State has been guarded about talking much about players who break team rules or otherwise.

That's all for this week. Thanks for sending in your questions. We'll have more championship coverage throughout the week, so stay tuned.

— Kyle Goonkgoon@sltrib.comTwitter: @kylegoon