Utah State's stout defense lives up to billing against BYU
Provo • Utah State's game on Friday night reeked of blown field position, a missed opportunity and a a botched field goal when it really mattered in the fourth quarter.
The Aggies, however, did nothing to erase the perception of a great defense.
It's reality at this point, despite dropping its second heartbreaker to BYU in as many seasons at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
The 6-3 loss to the Cougars had little to do with Utah State's defense, although BYU's only touchdown came within a 28 second span at the end of the first half when the Aggies pretty much fell asleep.
Simply put, USU's defense gave the rest of the team a real chance to win its fifth game in six tries. A chance that the remainder of the team couldn't - or wouldn't - take advantage of.
"Defensively we played well," Aggies head coach Gary Andersen said. "Everyone knew that both teams were great on that side of the ball. At the end of the day we needed to make one more play and we didn't. All credit goes to BYU."
When Utah State needed a fourth down stop in the first quarter, the Aggies were able to get it. When USU needed to contain BYU's Taysom Hill, it managed to do so.
It was Utah State's defense that made up for an early second-half turnover, stopping the Cougars and not allowing a point when BYU was threatening with first and goal.
The Aggies needed a turnover, and Kyler Fackrell was there, intercepting Hill and giving the ball back to the offense. The Utah State defense proved opportunistic and clutch when it needed to be.
If only the Aggies hadn't fallen asleep at the end of the first half.
"We can't let them score that touchdown with 30 seconds left," Fackrell said. "It's frustrating because we definitely feel like we're the best team in the state and we wanted to prove that tonight."
Ultimately, Utah State's demise lies within the offense and its inability to run the ball. Kerwynn Williams was indeed bottled up, sputtering in the run game after two weeks of starring at Colorado State and at home against UNLV. As a team, Utah State could muster just 41 yards on 24 attempts.
Keeton threw the ball well and got Matt Austin involved for the first time in weeks. But he was repeatedly harassed by BYU's defensive front seven, taking punishment like he hasn't this season over four quarters.
With USU's offense one-dimensional, drives were hard to come by for the Aggies. When Utah State did get in position to tie the game, early in the fourth quarter, it was Josh Thompson who missed a very makable 37-yard attempt. It was the exact same distance Thompson missed from against Wisconsin.
With Brian Suite and Fackrell all over the field making plays, the Aggies gave themselves a good chance to win.
Unfortunately for USU, it could not seize the opportunity.
A closer look
• Utah State falls to 4-2 on the season.
• The Aggies miss a fourth quarter field goal.
• USU loses to BYU for the second straight year.