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Q&A with Mountain West Connection: Washington vs. Utah State

We connected with Connor_C of sister SBN blog Mountain West Connection to get the scoop on Utah State...

Utah State Head Coach Matt Wells
Utah State Head Coach Matt Wells
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Q: Coach Petersen has described the Aggie defense as very aggressive, an attacking defense that blitzes frequently.  Who are the players on that defense that Husky fans should pay attention to along the front seven?

A: One person the Huskies will definitely need to pay attention to is Kyler Fackrell. Coming off of an ACL injury last year against Tennessee, he is back this year, fully ready and as healthy as ever. Fackrell is one of the key guys for the Utah State defense and their success in recent years. He does a great job at reading the defense and is quick on the blitz when it is called. Another player to keep an eye on is defensive end Jordan Nielsen. He is one of the better run stoppers along with Fackrell. He also quick off the line of scrimmage as well, not just on blitzes, but overall as well. These two will have to be watched very closely.

Q: Most Husky fans know of Chuckie Keeton, but who are the other players that we should watch out for on offense?

A: Coming back from suspension, one key player is wide receiver Hunter Sharp. We saw glimpses of just how fast and athletic he can be last season. When healthy, he can be one of the top players in not just the Mountain West but the country as well. It will be interesting to see how he does coming back from suspension. Also keep an eye on another wide receiver, Devonte Robinson. We saw just how quick he was in the Utah game last Thursday. He and Sharp are the two biggest weapons, as of now, for the offense. Look for these two to have some big opportunities in the game on Saturday.

Q: Keeton has been a major threat both running and passing in his career, but seeing him last week against Utah he looked rather gimpy by the end of the game.  Have injuries taken a toll on Keeton, and is he a similar player to how he was in 2012?

A: It is obvious that Keeton has not been himself since the 2013 season. Prior to that, he was one of the most electrifying players to watch and was a dark horse Heisman candidate. Now it seems he is trying to get back to his roots of the player he once was. With multiple injuries throughout his career, it is going to take some time for him to come back to full strength. Granted, he did take a few shots in the game against Utah. He did, at times, show that he is still capable of running and throwing the football effectively. With that being said, I feel he has some opportunities moving forward of being that player that we saw in 2012 and the first half of 2013.

Q: Seahawk fans are well aware of players like Bobby Wagner and Robert Turbin, and one of the things that impressed folks about both is how physically developed they were coming out of Utah State.  Looking at the team last week it appears that the Aggies still have a lot of players that are well acquainted with the weight room.  Is this a reflection of recruiting under Gary Andersen and Matt Wells, or is there a common thread with the strength & conditioning program at Utah State?

A: The Aggies have started to even out the balance of both recruiting players and putting an emphasis on strength and conditioning. When Gary Andersen came to USU, it did take a few years to find that success, but eventually led the team to it's first 10-win season ever. Now, with Matt Wells at the helm, the success has continued thanks in part to those combined factors, especially with the construction of the new Strength & Conditioning Center. Having that right mixture of who to recruit and building them up has been a big emphasis for the program and will continue for the foreseeable future.

Q: While the Aggies have not beaten a Power-5 team on the road in quite some time, recent history shows a string of very close games; what's your projection for how this one will go?

A: Right now the line has the Huskies at around 3-point favorites. In no means is this game going to be a blowout. Both teams are well disciplined and well-coached. For USU, however, the biggest factors in the outcome will be: Keeton's health, the ability of the defense to stop the run, and possibly crowd noise. If both teams play the way they are supposed to, we could be in for a very entertaining game. Prediction: Utah State 20, Washington 17

Thanks to Connor for taking the time to give us a closer look at Utah State!  Please check out Mountain West Connection for more, and you can see my answers to their questions here.