Crowton -- I'm excited about this game. I like the in-state rivalries. I think Utah State is doing a real great job. They are very capable. Last year it was a real close game. They came out real hard and played well early. We had to fight right to the end to win it in the fourth quarter. I have a lot of respect for this team and their coaching staff. Their quarterback, Fuentes, is an outstanding player and their receiver, Curtis, is as well. Their punter has obviously done a great job along with a lot of other guys on the team.
We feel like we have been playing pretty hard. We know we need to play really well as a team. The bye week has been good. We've been able to heal up. I feel our offensive linemen are a little healthier, defensive linemen too. It's good to have John Denney back playing and I feel we have a good rotation in there. Jernaro (Gilford) should be a little bit further along. It's hard not to play a game during a week. I watched some of the games and it's just hard not to play. Even though you need the break, it's just hard to sit and watch. I would rather just be out there playing. It will be good to get out this week and go up there.
Q -- With Marcus Whalen being out, will we see some new things on offense?
Crowton -- I think we have some good things planned. Marcus could have gone this week. I watched him yesterday and he ran pretty hard. I have had the same problem he has when I was a player. You get those pulls and they can nag you all year long and you never get back to what you were. Because we had this time with the bye, I feel that with one more week, he will be at 100 percent. The other running backs are playing real well. The other factor of why Marcus is not going to be playing this week is because he hasn't been getting any practice time. I am very happy with how Curtis Brown has been practicing. Logan Deans has really stepped it up. Steve Later has done a good job. It will be good to see those guys get some time. I'm going to take Marcus on the trip but I'm going to try to not play them. As far as what we do, I think we've got a good game plan. I've been very excited and we have had some extra time to work on some things. I'm very confident in the game plan going into this game. We still need to execute it though.
Q -- Can you give us an update on other injuries?
Crowton -- Hanale Vincent hurt his knee a little bit last Thursday at the end of one of our drills. He is probably not going to play. He is a back-up lineman. James Allen we put in a cast and he is doing pretty well. I think he is OK but I just worry about that ankle. When he plays, he plays hard and does well. Jernaro is getting better, like I said. Other injuries include Andy Ord. He pulled a hamstring and I just don't want him to get back too early and have it nag him all season. Other than that, I think we are in pretty good shape.
Q -- Who is going to play in Ord's spot?
Crowton -- We're going to go with Jason Kukahiko. He has worked hard and he deserves an opportunity to play.
Q -- This game with Utah State has a lot of tradition and tends to be penalty plagued. Is this a concern for you going into this week's game?
Crowton -- I felt like we did a better job last week with the penalties. We still had more than I wanted, but we didn't have the personal fouls. I thought we did a good job in that area. If we can get some stability and the same guys playing up front offensively, I think that will help from an offensive standpoint. Defensively, I felt like we made a lot of strides in improving in that area. In emotional games, when there is a lot of talking, sometimes you get a lot of penalties, especially in interstate rivalries. We've been working at it and I expect us to do better than we did at the beginning of the year. I think we're more mature now. BYU is a team to beat. I talked to the Nevada coach after the game and he said that victory was the biggest win in the history of the school. Schools are always looking to knock us off. They are always up and ready to go and we just need to be sure that we are ready for them. There have been some traditionally great games up there. Ones that have been decided right at the end. We're just going to go out and play aggressive. I don't want all the hype to be as big a factor; we just want to focus on what it is we want to do. That is the direction we're taking. We're focusing on our assignments and play one play at a time. Emotion is good early but it usually runs out late. I want to make sure that we are poised from an emotional standpoint.
Q -- Will Curtis Brown start at running back?
Crowton -- Yes.
Q -- How much confidence do you have in him with him being a starting freshman?
Crowton -- He played most of the game against Georgia Tech and I thought he got better as the game went on. He had some good runs later in the game. He's young and obviously he is going to make some mistakes, but I do believe that as the games goes on he will get better and better. I think he is going to be an outstanding player. He's practiced well and he has a lot of maturity about him. I'm not worried that he is not going to do certain things. He's got some skills. I've also been very happy with Logan Deans and Steve Later. Those guys have done well through these last two weeks. Those guys will get some time this game.
Q -- Can you talk about how this game can serve as a springboard into conference play?
Crowton -- We're 2-2 right now in our non-conference games. As far as conference goes, we're in great shape. We're only a game away till conference play starts. So what I want to do this week is focus on this game and look at it from our own team growth standpoint. I feel like the team is growing. We're getting more and more experience. We're now going into our fifth game together and the guys are starting to pull together as a unit. Brandon Stephens, who we moved over to defense, is just starting to gel a little bit. He will be playing more and that will give us a little more versatility with what we do with Isaac Herring. We could probably play him at guard a little bit now. That is what he played before Ben Archibald got hurt. I'm starting to feel good about our depth and our experience there. With this game, I'm looking at it as, "Let's finish the preseason off strong and then concentrate on the conference." I want to play good, be physical and poised and aggressive in this game.
Q -- Can you talk a little bit about the transition the JC transfers go through when they move up?
Crowton -- I did that. I made that transition and there are two things that happen to JC transfers. They play a lot on the junior college level, especially that second year, and they get a lot of confidence in themselves, the system and the team. And when they make that transition they are the new guy all of a sudden. They're not a freshman and they haven't come up through the program. It takes a little time for them to feel comfortable around the team. They become great junior college players and they expect to be able to come in and be a great division I player. But usually, it takes a little time, even the first year, before they break out and get to that next level. They want it to come faster but they need to be patient.
Q -- Have you noticed a change in the mindset of the offense since you named Engemann as the starting Q.B.?
Crowton -- I never said it was opened up.I said I was going to look at everybody, leaning towards the guys that were already there.It gave us an opportunity to look at the other guys. From my frame of mind, what I wanted to do was look at the guys that hadn't had a lot of opportunity and see how they had progressed. I want Bret (Engemann) to have a consistency about him. He is very talented. If he has a consistency about him, he can be very good. Bret has seven starts; the guy at Utah State has 24. Bret is still a young quarterback. Bret has some guys behind him, and that makes him more competitive. The competition has made Bret better. Those other guys are getting better too from the competition. Practices have gotten much better for us.
Q -- Who will be the backup?
Crowton -- Bret is our quartetback. He is the only one I am going to say. I like to make decisions based on what the need of the game is. They are all pretty close. Matt Berry is starting to be more aggressive. Olson still has his redshirt year. Maybe it will just be a case of who is standing close to me at the game.
Excluding Engemann and Pendleton, do you see any other quarterbacks getting a chance to play in certain situations?
Crotwon -- If I get a chance to play somebody, I am going to do it. I am going to try to develop them any chance I get. If I get an opportunity to play someone for one series, I am going to. I would like to give Olson a chance to play a lot if he is going to play. Otherwise, I'll probably redshirt him. I'm trying to keep my options open to make the best situation for us to win now. We have a chance to win a lot more games this year. We need to focus on right now, and not look so much in the future.
Q - With this being the last game before conference play starts, are you going to try to get more players some playing time in this week's game?
Crowton -- There are a lot of guys that I never get asked about. Brandon Stephens is a guy I want to play. I want Jason Kukahiko to play. He is playing great right now. Ryan Slater is a guy that is playing good too, but he is just a little banged up right now. I think Sumko is going to come back and contribute for us. I want them to grow in depth. Kukahiko will rotate the plays in for us. He is definitely worth playing. He is pretty good.
Q -- Is Sumko back now?
Crowton -- He is probably about 90 percent right now. Hopefully he will be 100 percent by game time. He can really run.
Q -- You struggled defending the pass against Nevada. Do you see the team struggling against Utah State?
Crowton -- The reason we had some problems in the past was the Nevada is a run team. We committed a lot of guys to the run in that first half, and when we backed off, we stopped their passing attack. Utah State used to be a very good running team. They are trying to improve that part of their game. We have done a decent job against the pass this year. They do throw the ball well. They've got some potential NFL players. Anything can happen in these in-state games.