USU coach has decision to make on quarterbacks

Oct 9 2013 - 1:39pm

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LOGAN -- With Chuckie Keeton out, Utah State's new quarterback the rest of the season will be either Craig Harrison or Darell Garretson.

USU coach Matt Wells said Monday that Harrison, a junior who played Friday against BYU, or Garretson, a 19-year-old true freshman, will lead the Aggies Saturday at Romney Stadium against Boise State (6 p.m., CBS Sports).

Keeton, a member of the Heisman Trophy watch list, left Friday's game with three minutes left in the first quarter. He tore both his anterior cruciate ligament and medial collateral ligament.

"You'll know on game day," Wells said of the new starter. "Those two guys are going to work together and we'll see who settles in the best. We're going to put a game plan around them and we're going to get as good as we can at it. Our players are going to rally around those two kids."

Wells said Harrison and Garretson would split reps on Monday before moving forward in closed practices.

The biggest difference between the two signal-callers?

"One's a freshman and one's a junior," Wells said. "Until they play a lot -- until they play on game day -- I don't know."

Harrison is a transfer from Snow College who played in seven games last season for USU. Garretson earned all-state and all-district honors as a senior last season at Chandler (Ariz.) High School.

Support for Harrison, injuries

Senior tight end D.J. Tialavea expressed confidence in Harrison.

"Craig, with getting these extra reps in practice, he's going to be more prepared and confident," Tialavea said. "Chuckie was the starter and everybody looked up to Chuckie, so Craig kind of took the backseat. But I want him to know that it's OK for him to put the team on his shoulders. He needs to trust us. One player doesn't make the whole team, so we've got to let Craig know that the pressure isn't on him."

Tialavea acknowledged that in their 31-14 loss to BYU, the team didn't recover "emotionally" after Keeton's exit.

"We lost a lot of energy and it's something that we all can learn from," he said. "I don't want to say it's going to happen again -- but if it does, me and the other team leaders need to do a better job of getting this team going."

Among those leaders are running back Joe Hill and offensive guard Kyle Whimpey, senior defensive end Connor Williams said. Hill also tore his ACL against BYU and is out for the season. Whimpey's season ended after tearing his patellar tendon against San Jose State.

"Those guys are leaders, so a lot of us will pick up the slack and play harder for them," said Williams, who returned to action himself against BYU after missing four straight games. "Hopefully, we'll honor them with the way we play and the result of the season."

Harrison played sparingly against Weber State and San Jose State. Against the Wildcats, he went 4 of 4 for 71 yards and a touchdown. Against the Spartans, he went 1 of 1 for seven yards

Against BYU - where his grandfather Larry played - Harrison threw 18 of 41 for 185 yards and one touchdown and rushed six times for 38 yards, registering an 89.9 quarterback rating.

"Our destiny is not determined by the number of times we stumble but by the number of times we stand up dust ourselves off & stride forward," Harrison wrote Sunday from his Twitter account.

On Sept. 27 -- the day the Aggies beat San Jose State -- he re-tweeted a tweet from USU graduate and Roy native Jonny Floyd with the hashtag #freecraigharrison.

Records in jeopardy?

Several USU records and other marks will end this week if the Aggies fall to the Broncos:

* USU has won 13 straight conference games, a school record. The previous record for consecutive conference wins was seven in the Big West Conference during the 1979 and 1980 seasons.

* USU has won five straight conference games at home, with its last league loss at home coming against Louisiana Tech (24-17) on Oct. 22, 2011.

* USU has not lost back-to-back games in its last 25 outings following its 40-12 win at San Jose State.

Inversely, USU has had two sellouts this year against Weber State and BYU, marking the first time since the 2002 season that USU has had multiple sellouts in the same year. USU has never had three sellouts in a single-season in the 46-year history of Romney Stadium.

Tickets remain available for Saturday's game.

Andersen honored

Junior tight end Keegan Andersen earned honorable mention National Tight End of the Week honors from College Football Performance Awards following the BYU game. Andersen, a 6-2, 231-pound junior from Logan, caught a career-high tying three passes for 47 yards with his father Gary Andersen, the ex-USU coach, watching from the sidelines.

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