Daily Trojan sports editor Will Laws interviewed Curtis Lundstrom, sports editor of the Utah Statesman at Utah State, earlier this week to give USC fans a better feel for the Aggies ahead of Saturday’s nonconference showdown at the Coliseum.
DT: Senior quarterback Chuckie Keeton has put up monster numbers for the Aggies so far — is he a legit Heisman contender or are these numbers the cause of a relatively weak schedule so far?
US: If you take a look at Keeton’s career, he’s put up great numbers from the beginning. The numbers this season aren’t just a result of blowouts. Of 12 quarters this season, Keeton has sat for three of them — the fourth quarter against Air Force and the entire second half against Weber State.
Keeton is definitely a legitimate Heisman contender, provided he continues to excel. Saturday’s game against the Trojans is arguably his biggest opportunity to make his case.
DT: Is the Aggies’ defense up to the task of defending Marqise Lee and Nelson Agholor?
US: USC’s receiving corps may prove to be the X-factor in the game. The Aggie secondary is well aware of what Lee is capable of, and has struggled this season with penalties in pass defense.
Despite the struggles, USU’s defense as a whole has great pride. They have a tendency to perform best on big stages, and with recent memories of giving up leads late in games, they will have their feet to the pedal for 60 minutes.
DT: What is the mood like on campus in Salt Lake City about the team after reeling off two straight blowouts after the disappointing season-opening loss to Utah?
US: Having been around the Aggies for my entire life, I can say with conviction that the aspirations and expectations of Aggie faithful have never been higher for the Utah State football team.
Fans are more confident than I’ve ever seen. Everyone is itching for a program-defining win on the national level to show the Aggies have turned the corner, and Saturday’s game provides that opportunity.
As head coach Matt Wells has said, USU has knocked on that door the past four seasons against Auburn, Texas A&M, Oklahoma and Wisconsin.
Aggie Nation fully expects to go into the Coliseum Saturday and kick down the door and leave with a win.
DT: What’s your prediction for this weekend?
US: With no disrespect to a historic program like USC, Keeton and the Aggies are hungry, and even more importantly, they’re more talented than last year’s team that was two missed field goals away from an undefeated regular season.
Anything less than a win will be a disappointment in the eyes of players and coaches.
Utah State pulls off the upset 34-27.
Follow Will on Twitter @WillLaws