When you face an opponent like Utah State, you have nothing to gain and everything to lose, at least theoretically. The national media won't care about this game unless the Utes lose, which means anything gained from it will be only slightly incremental. But it doesn't mean those gains aren't important to the season as a whole. Even minimal improvements will impact Utah later on in the season and so even though this game will probably turn out ugly for the Aggies, there are things Ute fans should look at to see if the team has improved from week two to week three.
A complete game. Had Utah played the first half of the Michigan game like they did the UNLV one, they would have lost. Yet had they played the second half of the Michigan game like they did against the Rebels, they would have most certainly given the Wolverines their most worst home loss in the modern era. That didn't happen because the Utes decided to take a half off in both games and while that is unlikely to have any impact on Saturday's outcome, it's important Utah figure out how to play a complete game, especially with a road trip against Air Force on the horizon. It'll be key for the Utes to start and end strong against the Aggies.
They do that and I'll feel more confident about the rest of the season. However, if it takes another half to get the offense tuned up, it could spell trouble down the road.
- Brian Johnson's health. He was hit hard and went down against the Rebels last Saturday and appears to be ok, but we'll have to see how well he takes a few hits from the Aggies Saturday. I'll feel a lot better if he can get through this game without any wincing or major issues.
- No letdown. This goes along side playing a complete game, of course, there is also the possibility the Utes look crappy the entire four quarters. It's Utah State, so it'll take a lot for them to beat Utah, but even an ugly win is something the Utes do not want. If it comes down to the wire, with the Aggies going toe-to-toe with Utah and the Utes are victorious, it will still be a win, but might feel a lot like a loss.
- No serious injuries. Yeah, it's a no-brainer, injuries are bad. The Utes have been banged up the past two weeks and more injuries aren't going to help matters. Obviously there will be some minor ones, but please, no season ending injuries. I'm really getting tired of those.
- Keep 'em from scoring. This is probably unrealistic, since the Aggies scored 17 on Utah in Salt Lake last season and managed 24 against Oregon last week. But I'd love for a shutout, like last time the Utes traveled to Logan. If a shutout doesn't happen, 14 points or below will suffice. But maybe I'm being greedy here.