Akron jumped out to a 10-0 lead in the first half against Utah State in the Potato Bowl in Boise, and nearly lost the momentum as the Aggies battled back. With Utah State driving, Utah State fumbled away the football in the final seconds of the half and Rodney Coe returned the ball 54 yards to the Utah State 12-yard line. That gave Akron four seconds to kick one last field goal to extend the lead in the first half to 13-7.
Akron dug into the bag of tricks to put the first points on the board. Junior wide receiver Tyrell Goodman tossed a nice 14-yard pass to quarterback Thomas Woodson for a first quarter touchdown and a 7-0 lead. Akron tacked on three more points later in the first half for a 10-0 lead, but Utah State managed to score a touchdown before halftime. Kent Myers hit Brandon Swindall for a nine-yard touchdown late in the first half to trim Akron’s lead to three points.
Utah State quarterback Chuckie Keeton has completed six of 11 passes for 56 yards and he has been picked off by Akron’s defense once. Akron’s Woodson has also been intercepted in the first half.
Stop me if you have heard this before, but Utah State quarterback Chuckie Keeton is injured. The Aggies quarterback will miss the next four to six weeks with a sprained knee, Utah State head coach Matt Wells announced today.
Keeton has battled various injuries over the last few years at Utah State, never being able to stay healthy for an extended period of time. Keeton appeared in just three games last season before being sidelined for the remainder of the year after coming back from a knee injury. Keeton played just six games in 2013. With Keeton once again out of action for Utah State, Kent Myers will run the offense in his place. Myers played in seven games last season after backing up both Keeton and Darrell Garretson. As a freshman, Myers completed 66.4 percent of his pass attempts for 866 yards and five touchdowns, with three interceptions.
Utah State is off this week with a scheduled bye. The Aggies host Colorado State on October 3, so Myers will have some extra time to prepare for his first start. If Keeton is out for four weeks, he will liekly miss games against the Rams, Fresno State and Boise State. The best case scenario would seem to suggest Keeton could return for a road game at San Diego State, but the six-week timeline would not have Keeton back on the field until either a home game against Wyoming on October 30 or November 7 at New Mexico.
The New Mexico Bowl may have seen some crazy endings the past few years, but this year’s game went against that script. Instead, Utah State (10-4, 6-2 Mountain West Conference) recorded just the second 10-win season in program history with its third straight bowl victory with a 21-6 victory over UTEP (7-6, 5-3 Conference USA).
UTEP opened the scoring in the first quarter with a field goal on the game’s opening possession, but Utah State later scored a touchdown in the first quarter when quarterback Kent Myers broke off a 48-yard touchdown run down the left sideline for the lead. The Aggies punched in a second touchdown in the third quarter with Nick Vigil pushing one in from three yards out to cap a 75-yard drive. UTEP would add a late field goal.
UTEP’s chances to get the ball back for one last chance to tie things up took a critical blow when a kickoff following the second field goal by Jay Mattox went out-of-bounds, setting Utah State up in good field position. UTEP burned a timeout before the field goal try, which meant the decision not to go for the onside kick was a little extra confusing with under three minutes to play remaining. Utah State simply let running back Joe Hill carry the team the rest of the way with some big runs to run clock, including a touchdown run with 1:33 to play for the knockout blow.
Heading into 2015 the first big question for Utah State will be how does quarterback Chuckie Keeton look? Keeton’s return to the field in 2014 did not go according to plan, as he never seemed to be playing at full speed after a knee injury ended the 2013 season for him. The knee acted up again early in 2014, but he has one more year of eligibility to play. It would be wise to have Utah State proceed with extreme caution with Keeton in order to make sure he is ready for the rigors of the 2015 season.
Enough cannot be said about the coaching job Utah State head coach Matt Wells did this season. The Aggies won 10 games using four different starting quarterbacks along the way. That included a bowl game victory that even saw Myers receive some brief medical attention.
UTEP will look to find a way to build on the momentum the second half of the season saw on the field. The Miners win five of their final seven games of the regular season, although they fell a couple of games shy of the division title. The start to the 2015 season could be rough with three consecutive road games against Arkansas, Texas Tech and New Mexico State. UTEP will look to replace some key position players like quarterback Jameil Showers and receivers Jarred Shaw and Ian Hamilton, but the bulk of the offense should be in place. The defensive secondary will be hit hard as well, but the front of the defense should largely in good shape.