Grantsville’s Craig Harrison got an unexpected big taste of big-time college football Saturday night.
The Utah State quarterback was thrown into the fire when Aggie superstar starting QB Chuckie Keeton was injured late in the first quarter against BYU. It was later announced that Keeton is out for the season with an MCL/ACL tear.
Harrison took over with Utah State trailing 10-7 to its in-state rival BYU. The Cougars went on to win the game 31-14.
The former Gransville HIgh School and Snow College quarterback completed 14-of-41 passes for 185 yards and an 8-yard touchdown pass to Ronald Butler with 1:42 left in the game. Harrison also rushed six times for 38 yards with his longest carry for nine yards.
Following the game, Harrison told reporters it will be a big challenge to fill in for a player as talented as Keeton. He also said his team had a tough time moving the chains on offense Saturday night.
The USU football team did not allow Harrison to talk to reporters on Monday and will have closed practice sessions this week as they prepare to host Boise State on Saturday.
USU coach Matt Wells talked about the quarterbacks at a press conference Monday.
“It will be Craig Harrison or Darrell Garretson, we’ll look at them both this week. You’ll (media) know on game day,” Wells said. “Those two guys are going to work together and we’ll see who settles in the best. I think Craig will get better with extended reps. Darrell hasn’t taken many reps since training camp, but he had an awful lot towards the end of camp. We’ll see where those guys are, we’ll see who plays well around them and how they handle the situation this week. We’ll split the reps 50/50 today (Monday), then see where we’re at. I’m going to work it in closed practices the rest of the week and you’ll know who the starter is on Saturday night. That’s it, I can’t tell you more than that. 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.”
A transcript of the interview touched on other aspects of the quarterback situation at Utah State with quotes from the coach Wells.
On the biggest differences between the two backup quarterbacks:
“One’s a freshman and one’s a junior. Until they play a lot, until they play on game day, I don’t know what to tell you. I’ll give you a really good educated answer in two weeks.”
On Harrison’s play versus the expectation on Friday:
“He did about the same. He did some good stuff and I think he wishes he had some stuff back.”
On Harrison filling the leadership void left behind after the Keeton injury:
“I’ve loved Craig ever since he got here. I think he does have leadership skills and confidence, and he just needs to bring it out. It’s on us to let him feel comfortable being a leader. Chuckie was the starter and everybody looked up to Chuckie, so Craig kind of took the backseat, but I want him to feel comfortable and know that it’s OK for him to put the team on his shoulders and be confident when he’s out there. This week, when he gets the reps in practice, I hope he feels comfortable going into the game”
Utah State hosts Boise State Saturday night at 6 p.m. The game will be televised on the CBS Sports Network.