This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
You saw it early against Utah: The need to negate a powerful pass-rush with short slants and quick hits over the middle.
And that made Kellen Bartlett a very valuable commodity for the Aggies.
USU fans should expect the same against the Badgers. Looking at film, Wisconsin't cornerbacks play off by design, a bend but don't break strategy aimed at not surrendering the big play, ever.
That puts a lot of onus on USU's wide receivers and tight ends to turn short passes into big plays, and to be sure-handed and to move the chains. For a team aimed at tempo and putting points on the board, it can be a frustrating defense to face.
It's all on the Aggies, as a result, to show some patience offensively. Seldom is USU going to drive the field in 4-5 plays. If the Aggies are to score, 10-12 plays is more like the expectation. Utah State feels confident of its chances. Bartlett is a big reason.
He adds another facet to the offense with his ability to catch the ball. The senior had eight receptions against the Utes, consistently making catches for first downs when it mattered.
It was a welcome sight for Bartlett and the coaching staff, who missed his playmaking from the position last season.
"He is a big, big part of our offense," Utah State head coach Gary Andersen said. "It's great to have him back after a couple of injuries. I thought he played very well, and we expect him to play well. I thought the tight ends, not just Kellen, were very good against Utah and they will continue to be a part of our offense going forward."