Utah State opens up its season at home facing the UConn Huskies who are one of the few independent teams in FBS. The Aggies are hoping to start 1-0 and march on to defend their Mountian West title.
Before Utah State can do that, we need to learn more about his UConn team, so we reached out to Aman Kidwai of The UConn Blog to help us get a closer look at what Utah State is to expect on Saturday afternoon.
1. Four quarterbacks are in the running to start. Who will start and get the most playing time?
1. I think Penn State transfer Taquan Roberson will start and see the most playing time. After that, I think we might see either true freshman Zion Turner or redshirt freshman Tyler Phommachanh. None of the three has very much playing experience, but Roberson has been taking the bulk of 1st team snaps in practice. 2nd team snaps have been split between Turner and Phommachanh, who looked good in a couple of starts last year before falling to a season-ending leg injury.
2. What are the expectations with Jim Mora as the new head coach?
2. The expectations are to not be embarrassed. As you can probably surmise, it has been a rough go for Husky football fans lately, and while they’re desperate to root for a winner, mere signs of competence would be enough to get them through this season. If it ends with legitimate reasons to hope that this can be a solid team next year, or the year after, that would be great. Some of those potential signs include: talent at QB, updated offensive strategy & style of play, quality of the OL/DL, and successful use of the transfer portal.
3. Who are the best players to know in this matchups?
3. Offensively, sophomores RB Nate Carter and WR Keelan Marion are probably the top playmakers. Carter earned the starting nod last year and while he’s listed as 2nd on the depth chart this week, the guy listed first is a graduate student who had 12 carries last year. Expect Carter to be the lead back and one of the Huskies’ most reliable options. Marion also broke out last year as a freshman and is expected to benefit from a better team around him, including some incoming transfers in Nigel Fitzgerald and Dajon Harrison who may help attract attention away from opposing secondaries.
Defensively, Jackson Mitchell and Ian Swenson are tackling machines and the other two starting linebackers are P5 transfers in Marquez Bembry (Kentucky) and Brandon Bouyer-Randle (Texas Tech). That group is the strongest for that side of the ball, while the DL and DBs are replacing multiple starters from last year, including DT Travis Jones, who was a 3rd round pick by the Ravens.
4. What advantages to UConn have over Utah State?
4. Frankly, I don’t see any. UConn’s receivers might be a good matchup for the USU secondary but definitely not a place of advantage. I’d say the only real advantage the Huskies have is being an unknown entity (somewhat). The Aggies are likely dealing with a lot of uncertainty as it relates to preparing for UConn’s tendencies, such as the overall approach of the coaching staff, the starting QB, or their desire to blitz vs. stay at home.
5. How do you see this game playing out?
5. I think Utah State wins and covers the 27-ish point spread. The Aggies won’t have trouble moving the ball and even if the Huskies can make some stops early it will be rough sledding for their inexperienced offense. In that situation, history has shown us the defense eventually buckles. UConn might get some points on the board but definitely not many meaningful ones. I’ll go with a 41-13 final score.