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Jackson to start for Aggies — if he's able

LOGAN — When quarterback Leon Jackson III went down with an injury last week at Hawaii and freshman Jerod Walker came in and personally accounted for 276 yards of offense, Utah State football coach Brent Guy knew the Leon vs. Jerod question would surface.

Guy reaffirmed earlier in the week Jackson will start today's home finale with Nevada (6-3, 5-1) if his ailing left shoulder will allow him to. Obviously, if he can't go, Walker will start. The game kicks off at 1 p.m. and can be purchased on ESPN's Game Plan package.

"I'm certainly not afraid to play Jerod," Guy said. "We're more limited with Jerod. He doesn't know as much of the offense as Leon does because he's only been in since August."

Jackson was injured midway through the second quarter of the Aggies' 50-23 loss to Hawaii last week. Under Jackson, the Aggies (2-7, 1-5) had just 73 yards and three points. Walker came in and threw for 188 yards and rushed for 88 more in leading the Aggies to 20 second-half points.

Despite Jackson's offensive woes against the Warriors, Guy believes Jackson is the quarterback that gives the Aggies the best chance to win when healthy — especially at home.

Jackson has completed 79-of-124 passes for 990 yards and seven touchdowns with no interceptions in games played at Romney Stadium this year. On the road, he's completed just 53-of-105 passes for 557 yards and a touchdown with six interceptions.

"He (Walker) is not as effective going downfield and looking at his second read," Guy said. "Pretty much with Jerod, if he drops back and the guy's not open, it's run, no matter what the protection is. That's the way he is right now. We'd be a lot more limited with Jerod."

Jackson didn't practice two days this week and his status for today's game hadn't been determined as of Friday. Guy, however, practiced as if Jackson wouldn't play.

"If we have to use Jerod we'll have to develop some stuff that Jerod can do," Guy said, and it would have to included passing the ball as well as running it.

It's been customary to see Walker enter the game, regardless of the score, on the first drive of the second quarter. He has played in seven of the nine games for the Aggies this season.

With limited action, Walker is third on the team in rushing with 49 carries for 191 yards and a touchdown. Last week, he rushed 21 times for 88 yards with a 46-yard touchdown run.

"The running game, obviously, he's very effective. He's shown that he's the type of player that can run the football and make things happen and make guys miss," Guy said.

Walker has completed 20-of-30 passes for 245 yards and two touchdowns, but 188 came last week against Hawaii when he completed 13 of 17.

"We can't kid ourselves thinking we can line up these next two games and be a quarterback-run football team and win games," Guy said. "We're going to have to look and see what works best and game plan what we think is the best chance to win the football game. It has to be some of it throwing the football."

Aggies on the air

Nevada (6-3, 5-1) at Utah State (2-7, 1-5)

Today, 1 p.m.

Romney Stadium

TV: ESPN Game Plan

Radio: 610 AM (Logan), 98.3 FM (SLC)


E-mail: jhinton@desnews.com