"From what we've seen on film they're an option ride and option team, so they have that type of system with their running back [Kerwynn Williams]," said Jordan Johnson. "From what we've seen, they run that system pretty good, and they have the players to run it.
"Their running back is fast and can get to the outside. Then you have their quarterback that can also move, so the two of them together make a pretty good pair in the option ride. Our guys up front have to make sure they don't get outside and keep them contained."
However, the Aggie offense isn't one-dimensional.
"They do have a spread element to their offense to go with their option ride, so from what we've seen they can do a few different things and aren't one-dimensional," Johnson said. "They have a lot of 10 and 11 personnel concepts, and they implement them in their passing in high routes."
Ten personnel is when the offense has just one running back lined up in the backfield, opting instead to use more wide receivers in passing routes. Eleven personnel is when there is one running back and one tight end to attack the defense.
"It makes it a bit tricky because you have to not only contain the option element of their run offense, but you also have to make sure you stop their tight end and running back in the passing game," Johnson said. "So, you have to read your keys quickly and make sure to contain. If you think they're going option and play off that, they can pass it over the top on you."
But here is the tricky part, and where defensive backs can get caught. When an offense is successful in the option offense, defensive backs tend to break coverage early in order to provide outside run assistance. Johnson and fellow cornerback Preston Hadley have to stay in coverage regardless if Williams and quarterback Chuckie Keeton and are success with the option.
"We just have to plaster and stay on our receivers regardless," Johnson said. "It's going to put some pressure on us to stay on our receivers. Their quarterback is a scramble quarterback, so we have to make sure we don't break containment through their entire route.
"If we don't, we can get caught downfield thinking we need to come up and make a play. Then all of a sudden he's throwing the ball over your head to their receivers. There will be a lot of broken plays where he'll scramble around, but then he'll make plays because guys didn't stay disciplined by staying with their man."
Johnson trusts discipline and abilities of his teammates up front to make the plays needed so he can do his job downfield.
"I'm totally confident in our front seven," Johnson said. "Our d-line is very good and our outside backers and middle linebackers are very disciplined and very good. They'll get their reads and keep containment."
Johnson doesn't seem to be worried about any breakdowns up front.
"[Discipline's] what Coach Mendenhall has been emphasizing all week just because Chuckie Keeton is an option and scramble quarterback," said Johnson. "The defensive backs have to stay disciplined in that we have to have confidence in our guys up front to make the play when things break down so we can stay on our guys downfield."
Let's take a look at the Aggie receivers the Cougar cornerbacks will face. First is 6-foot-2-inch, 20-pound senior Matt Austin, who plays the x-receiver position. Austin is USU's version of Cody Hoffman and their primary go-to downfield receiver. Johnson said Austin is the receiver he will primarily go against
"Matt Austin is a big, physical receiver, but it ain't no thing," said Johnson. "It isn't anything that I haven't faced in the past.
"Austin is the one they like to send more downfield into the second level of the defense or on fade routes. They seem to have confidence in him to go downfield and make the bigger catches downfield and whatnot."
Senior receiver Chuck Jacobs, at 6 feet and 178 pounds, plays the t-receiver position in the Aggie offense next to the x-receiver or z-receiver for short-yardage plays.
"With Jacobs, he's their possession receiver when they need to convert on short yardage, or when it's third-and-short they like to go to him for that," said Johnson. "You see him in a lot of screens and short-yardage possession routes on the outside."
Johnson is confident that the Cougar defense will be ready for Utah State.
"It isn't anything that we haven't seen before and it's not too tricky," he said. "We've had a couple of days of practice to get used to seeing what they run in their passing schemes. A lot of it becomes knowing their passing tendencies on down and distance. I think we'll be ready."