Zach Vigil is ready to get back to work.
Fresh off Utah State’s lone bye week of the season, Vigil and the rest of his teammates return to action Friday night when the Aggies face in-state rival BYU at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo.
“The bye week was awesome to be able to just step away and soak it in because it’s our only one this year,” Vigil, a senior linebacker for USU, said Monday during the team’s weekly press conference. “It’s nice to get some time away from football and get your mind clear.
“Now, we’re back to work and honestly, I’m happy to be back to work and getting ready to play BYU.”
Kevin Whimpey also enjoyed the bye week.
“A week off for me is big-time, just to kind of take a step away from the physical contact,” the senior offensive lineman said. “But, it also allows us to spend a lot more time in the weight room, so I feel like I’m stronger and more refreshed. My knees and my body feel better, so it was a big bye week for me.”
For the whole team, really.
“The bye was at a good time for us from a physical standpoint,” USU head coach Matt Wells said. “We were able to regroup a little bit emotionally. You take a bye week for what it’s worth. You can get a little ahead of the opponent, start to study them a little bit, work on recruiting and actually get out and go recruiting a little bit.
“We got our veterans a lot of rest and gave the young guys a lot of reps. Our guys will hopefully come back feeling refreshed mentally and physically. We’ve got a long grind ahead of us in these next nine weeks.”
Beginning with an extremely talented BYU team.
Like the Aggies, (2-2), the Cougars (4-0) are coming off a bye week.
“We had a really good bye week,” BYU defensive back Skye PoVey said. “We’re focused on trying to get better, not losing momentum. I think we were able to heal up a little bit and get better, so I think we had a good Monday practice.”
USU is looking to bounce back from a very disheartening 21-14 loss in overtime to Arkansas State. Meanwhile, BYU beat Virginia 41-33 before its week off.
“It was hard because you heard coach Wells refer to 10 times that we could have won the game and we didn’t,” Whimpey said. “It’s always a hard game to lose when you can look back at film and see, ‘If I would have gone a little harder here, we could have won the game.’
“It was emotionally hard, but it’s not something that’s going to damage our mental make-up going into the rest of the season.”
Keeton or Garretson?
While Chuckie Keeton rested his banged up knee, Darell Garretson started at quarterback for the Aggies against Arkansas State.
Who will get the nod this week under center?
Wells said Monday that a decision will be made “in the next few days.”
“We’ll see how Chuckie is early this week,” the second-year coach added. “We’ll get him out practicing (Monday) and see what’s going on. I’ll talk to our medical staff. Those guys are experts in what they do and I’ll lean on them really heavily.
“I wouldn’t put a number on the reps or anything, we’ll just see how he is. If he can go through practice today and tomorrow, the reps will be close to 50/50. If he can’t go, then he can’t go.”
Keeton suffered a season-ending injury to his left knee in last year’s game against BYU. He hurt it again in the Wake Forest game on Sept. 13, missing the entire second half of the Aggies’ 36-24 victory.
Povey said the Cougars are preparing to face either Keeton or Garretson.
BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall said the scheming doesn’t change much if it’s Garretson over Keeton.
“Chuckie’s ability to create and his leadership and his experience certainly you have to acknowledge, but by preparing for him, anything else besides that you’re prepared for,” Mendenhall said.
Added PoVey: “Obviously, both quarterbacks have strengths and something different they bring to the table, but I think we're just kind of preparing either way.”
Sharp elevating his game
Wide receiver Hunter Sharp has recorded back-to-back 100-yard receiving games entering the BYU contest.
Against Wake Forest, the 6-foot, 190-pounder caught 12 passes for 138 yards — both career highs. Those 12 receptions are the most by an Aggie since Kevin Curtis had 13 against Middle Tennessee in 2002.
In USU’s setback to the Red Wolves, Sharp had nine catches for 130 yards, including an 81-yard touchdown reception from Garretson — tied for the 13th-longest pass play in school history.
“He has really played well,” Wells said. “When Brandon Swindall went down with his season-ending injury, we said we needed the receivers to step up and play quality reps. Hunter has done that.
“He’s played at a high level, both catching the ball well and making contested catches. He’s run the ball well and blocked well on the perimeter. I’m happy with his progress so far.”
Time announced for Homecoming game
The Aggies’ Homecoming game against Air Force on Oct. 11, is slated to begin at 8:15 p.m. and will be televised live on ESPNU.
USU has 10 nationally televised games this season, including seven that will be broadcast nationally by ESPN. During the 2013 campaign, the Aggies had 11 of their 14 contests televised nationally.