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Utah State football: Aggie offense playing to mixed reviews
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Logan • First, the good news: The Utah State offense isn't turning the ball over. It's coming up with big plays, and moving the football when it truly matters.

Now, the bad: The Aggies have punted a combined 20 times in the past two games, the offensive line isn't protecting the passer and the receivers are having trouble getting open at times.

So, the reviews are mixed three games into the season. USU offensive coordinator Matt Wells sees explosive potential. At the same time, his team scored just five touchdowns against Utah and Wisconsin.

Clearly, there is room for improvement.

"The biggest thing that we're doing is hitting our goals as far as explosive plays are going," Wells said. "We are taking very good care of the football, and I thought we played well at times in a hostile environment. But we've been good, not great. We have to improve in some areas."

For Wells, the biggest priority is the passing game, which hasn't been on point since the 34-3 season-opening win over Southern Utah. In that respect, USU's Saturday game at Colorado State could offer some relief. The Rams surrendered 429 passing yards in a 40-20 loss to San Jose State last weekend — a stat the Utah State coaching staff has likely noticed.

Wells says he's happy with quarterback Chuckie Keeton, although by his count Keeton missed three open receivers against Wisconsin. The offensive line has been an issue, though, and Wells hinted at major changes for this week.

"The main thing is trust — we have to trust what the coaching staff is telling us," senior wideout Chuck Jacobs said.

"I can really see us getting better in a lot of areas, from the receivers to the running backs to the tight ends. We just have to come together and believe that we can line up with anyone that we play against."

Of course, Utah State has played against two of the better defensive units in the country in Utah and Wisconsin. Wells and coach Gary Andersen have accounted for that in their evaluations.

Still, on a large level, the lack of offense in the last two weeks has been a little self-inflicted. There were a bunch of penalties against the Utes. The running game could never get started against the Badgers, and even when Keeton was protected well, there were times he had nobody to throw the ball to.

All of which makes this week a big one for the Aggies. Wells would like to gain some momentum offensively, like when his team scored on their first three possessions against SUU. Otherwise, the struggles will continue, putting more responsibility on USU's defense.

tjones@sltrib.com

Utah State at Colorado State

P Saturday

5 p.m.

College football • Consistency lacking, though competition was stiff last two weeks.
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