BYU and Utah State has been quite the defensive battle, as expected, but the big news at the half is not BYU’s 17-7 lead. Instead, it is the loss of Utah State quarterback Chuckie Keeton.
The night got off to a bad start for the home team. Keeton was intercepted by BYU linebacker Kyle Van Noy and the Cougars star linebacker returned the pick for six points just ten seconds in to the game. Keeton and the Aggies responded well though by driving right down field and tying the game just minutes later. Later in the first quarter Keeton would have to be helped off the field with a leg injury. The Aggies offensive star was taken to the locker room for treatment and later returned to the sideline on crutches. The extent of his injury is not known yet, but the outlook sure does not look promising.
But the game goes on, and Utah State has struggled to get the offense in sync with back-up quarterback Craig Harrison taking over. Harrison lost a fumble on his first possession in Keeton’s absence. Utah State has also had a field goal blocked and had to punt before the half.
BYU’s offense is not getting much going either, which means this game is probably a defensive showdown from here on out. If that is going to be the case, and given the loss of Keeton, it looks as though BYU may have the upper hand in the second half.
In the midst of reports that he had a physical altercation with one of his Tennessee players during summer camp this year, Butch Jones labeled the speculation “absolutely ridiculous.”
Apparently, his bosses agree with the head coach.
At a board meeting Thursday, UT-Knoxville chancellor Jimmy Cheek stated that he and athletic director Dave Hart had done their “due diligence” in investigating the accusations that Jones and senior offensive lineman Mack Crowder were involved in some type of physical skirmish during practice this past August. The end result of interviews with Jones, coaches and players was the conclusion that there was nothing to the reports and message-board rumors.
“There’s been a lot of rumor and misinformation on social media and message boards about an alleged incident during football practice,” Cheek said according to GoVols247.com‘s Wes Rucker. “It’s not our practice to respond to rumors, but I thought it was important to let you know that we’ve done our due diligence and Dave Hart and I are very confident there was no inappropriate conduct with any players or coaches.”
Shortly after Cheek spoke at the board meeting, Crowder took to Twitter with a series of missives that speaks around the issue.
Michigan played without its leading rusher in Week 5. The Wolverines are hoping there won’t be a repeat in Week 6.
De'Veon Smith sustained a lower-leg injury in the Week 4 win over BYU and didn’t travel with the team for last Saturday’s win over Maryland. Smith has been practicing with his teammates throughout the first few days of this week, and head coach Jim Harbaugh is guardedly optimistic that the running back will be available for what’s turned into a huge Big Ten matchup with Northwestern Saturday in the Big House.
“He’s practicing and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that he’s going to stay good and be ready to play,” Harbaugh said during a radio appearance Thursday morning. “But we’ll (keep) looking at that every day.”
Despite essentially missing a game and a half, Smith currently leads the Wolverines with 331 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns. He’s added four receptions for 35 yards and a touchdown coming out of the backfield the first four games.
Should Smith be unable to go again, the Wolverines have three other backs with at least 100 yards on the ground: Ty Isaac (187, 7.2 yards per carry), Drake Johnson (125, 4.2 ypc) and Derrick Green (100, 3.3 ypc).
In addition to Smith, Harbaugh is hopeful Channing Stribling will be available this weekend as well. The starting cornerback didn’t play against the Cougars because of injury