Cal Poly

Matchup to watch: Quarterbacks key to Southern Utah-Cal Poly matchup

Southern Utah senior quarterback Ammon Olsen.
Southern Utah senior quarterback Ammon Olsen. Southern Utah Athletics

With a defense that ranks among the best in the Big Sky Conference backing him up, Southern Utah quarterback Ammon Olsen has comfortably picked apart opposing teams during the Thunderbirds’ current five-game winning streak.

Over the past five contests, the 6-foot-4, 225-pound senior has completed 65 percent of his passes for 1,446 yards and 10 touchdowns against two interceptions. Olsen and the Southern Utah offense have outscored their past five opponents 207-16, including a 152-9 advantage in four Big Sky Conference victories.

Coming out of Alta High School in 2009, Olsen signed with Southern Utah and served as a backup that fall. He then went on a two-year LDS church mission in Mexico and transferred to BYU prior to the 2012 season.

Following two seasons with the Cougars, Olsen returned to Cedar City and earned Big Sky Conference newcomer of the year honors.

His counterpart during Saturday’s matchup against Cal Poly will either be fifth-year senior Chris Brown or true freshman Khaleel Jenkins.

When Brown, who has rushed for more than 700 yards and nine touchdowns, sat out with an undisclosed injury last week, Jenkins made the first appearance of his college career.

Mustangs head coach Tim Walsh said earlier in the week he hopes Brown will be cleared to play, but there were no guarantees.

“I think they’re both very similar players, both very dangerous,” Southern Utah head coach Ed Lamb said. “We have to respect Khaleel and Chris a lot. We’re preparing to play against them both.”

Ball security will be a key focus for either Cal Poly quarterback against a Thunderbirds defense that leads the conference with 13 interceptions and turnover margin of plus-15.

Southern Utah hasn’t allowed a passing touchdown since its Sept. 12 loss at South Dakota State.