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USU football: Aggies vow to take Weber State seriously

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Utah State running back Joey DiMartino carries the ball during an NCAA college football game against Air Force, Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013, in Air Force Academy, Colo. Utah State won 52-20. (AP Photo/The Gazette, Kent Nishimura) MAGAZINES OUT

By Kyle Goon

The Salt Lake Tribune

First published Sep 13 2013 02:04PM
Updated Sep 13, 2013 11:30PM

Logan • Weber State is going to be a feisty opponent, senior guard Kyle Whimpey said. You can’t convince him otherwise.

It’s rooted in his days at Idaho State, when the Wildcats knocked the tar out of the Bengals, 59-27, in 2008. Even though Whimpey now is on a team that has the firepower to turn that score on its head, he’s not ready to overlook Weber State. And his teammates aren’t either, he said.

"They took a bad loss last week, but that’s not the team Weber State is," Whimpey said. "They’ve got good linebackers and defensive linemen. They’ve got some playmakers. We’re expecting a tough fight."

The Aggies will be focused on trying to perfect their early season flaws when the Wildcats, who fell to Utah 70-7 last week, come to Romney Stadium on Saturday.

The afterglow of a major win at Air Force already is forgotten, the Aggies said. Several FBS teams have been upset by FCS squads in the first two weeks of the season: Oregon State, San Diego State and Iowa State among them.

The Aggies aren’t prepared to be the next "state" on the list. They want to play a flawless game. That means no penalties, no missed assignments, no miscommunications, no turnovers. If Utah State wants to truly prepare for a four-game slate that includes USC, BYU and Boise State, the Aggies can’t take it easy against the visiting Wildcats.

"It’s going to be just about us executing," sophomore linebacker Kyler Fackrell said. "They’re absolutely someone who could beat us if we don’t bring our A game. So we’re just going to approach it like it’s any other game."

Fans will have their eyes on the secondary for Utah State’s first home game. The unit has allowed opposing quarterbacks to post a 146.3 passer rating and has yet to pick off a pass. Receiver Erik Walker is one of the players the Aggies have circled as a threat on the depth chart.

Penalties in pass coverage also have extended scoring drives against Utah and Air Force, and the Aggies hope to cut down on their current rate of 82 penalty yards per game.

"We’ve had a few days of solid practice, and it’s been an emphasis," cornerbacks coach Kendrick Shaver said about the penalties. "Guys were getting a little handsy, but now they’re getting it a little more."

What can be improved on an offense that is one of the top 25 in the nation and led by one of the country’s top quarterbacks? Plenty, according to the Aggies.

Matt Wells said he outlined at least four areas where the offense can improve, but he declined to name them. But one certainly is reducing turnovers, as junior quarterback Chuckie Keeton is painfully aware after throwing his first interception last week.

"We definitely have to hold onto the ball better," he said. "One of those turnovers is on me. I’m going to have to play better. That’s the biggest thing right now."

Utah State also will be looking to tighten up the run game, which has been solid but not dominating. It also needs to work on getting a better pass rush, one of the areas the team cited as a weakness against Utah.

kgoon@sltrib.com

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