I have asked Aggie fans, Utah fans and members of the media. So what do they say?
Depth and Talent and Speed are the most common answers.
I sat down recently and watched the Utah vs Michigan game and I really didn't see the major difference I was expecting. That could be that there wasn't just one or two guys that really stood out like a Nate Orchard or something. More than anything I think the guys that have graduated and now play in the NFL were really good. I am really interested to see if there is a star for the Utes on either Defense or Offense other than Booker.
I am not saying the Utes are not improved from 2/3 years ago. I absolutely think they are and a big part of that is Booker at Running back. They are a similar style from the previous meetings obviously. Is there a WR for Utah that really stands out this year? Is there a guy on Defense that is going to single handedly make the difference?
So the one that I agree with the most is just overall team speed. I can buy that. The Utes have been going to Florida more to recruit talent and have really made it a focus to get faster at Linebacker in recent years.
I do think it is a little unfair to expect perfect performances from Andy Phillips and Tom Hackett. Also guys like Hunter Dimmick benefitted from playing across from Nate Orchard. That being said Special Teams could make a huge difference in this game. If the Utah offense gets a short field and USU is playing from there own territory that is tough to overcome.
That being said, the Aggies need to fix the Aggies first. Utah State severely underperformed against SUU. The Offensive Line was the most glaring area of potential improvement. I think you have to ride with the same 5 guys but hopefully they can improve this week. It was both missed blocks and penalties that were disappointing. There were blocks to be made out in space that did not connect and really overall it was not just but as an offense as a whole. Matt Wells put it well there needs to be improvement from all 5 rooms of the offense.
I am expecting the kitchen sink to be thrown out there on Friday. Whether that is playcalling, personnel or just overall focus or "getting up for the game" we will see.
I am actually expecting the run defense to play well against Utah and unless the Utes start moving the ball and playing from ahead the Aggies should hold their own. The worry would be that the Defensive Line wears down with limited depth and the Utes can take advantage of that. What this game comes down to is: How much can the Aggies improve from week 1 to 2.
Brian Swinney from UteSportsReport.com covers the Utes for Scout:
1- What will happen with Dom Hatfield for this game? Any upgrade at CB?
If Hatfield is ready to play, then he'll play, but you've got to think that either he takes another week to get back to where they want him to be, or plays limited reps. The Utes are in good shape right now with Butler-Bird and Porter at the corner spots. As long as Hatfield is ready to go by the Oregon game in a few weeks, Utah will be fine.
2- Are there a few guys other than Booker who can really step into a star role on offense? Who can we watch for at WR?
Britain Covey is an animal and looks like he's destined for stardom, but the most likely guy outside of Booker and Travis Wilson on offense is still Kenneth Scott at wide receiver. He's experienced, talented, and can be used in a variety of ways should the coaches choose to do so.
3- On Defense, Is there a guy that the Aggies need to stay away from like Nate Orchard in years past or are they just better and deeper across the board?
They're just deep and talented at every single position, but the two guys that can really cause havoc are defensive end Hunter Dimick and linebacker Gionni Paul. Dimick is coming off of a double digit sack season and plays both the run and pass well, while Paul is a playmaker that is always around the ball. Both are very dangerous.
4- Is it reasonable to expect a better performance this year from guys like Dimmick, Andy Phillips and Tom Hackett etc?
Reasonable? Probably not, but that doesn't mean that all three of them don't expect to be even better than last season. Dimmick won't give a number, but he's targeting 15+ sacks for the season. Phillips is off to a rocky start, but is still probably the most talented kicker in the conference and can hit from 55. Hackett? He's not human.
5- Score prediction and why?
Based on what Utah State was unable to do offensively against Southern Utah doesn't bode well for them as they face arguably the top defense in the Pac 12 this week. I do think Chuckie has a bounce-back game as mobile QBs tend to give Utah fits, but it won't be enough in a low scoring affair as the Utes pull out a 24-10 win