University of Utah Football – Bye Week Thoughts

Chris Enger is a well-known name in the podcasting circuit as host of three shows: The BYUofU Show, The RSL Show, and also on Soccer Newsday. Each show is awesome in its own respect. If you’ve thought of becoming a soccer fan, and more specifically an RSL fan, you need to check out the RSL Show podcast. He makes soccer very accessible to the newbie fan. He is going to provide our loyal Ute fans with a weekly insight into the Utes next game. Check him out @fuegote and @RSLShow.

The Bye Week

“I left the Real Salt Lake game early for that?” ~Chris Enger

“Wow” ~Kyle Whittingham after the first half against ASU.

It’s true. I left Rio Tinto early for the first time in my life. I never leave sporting events early, but I was caught up in the hype that was Utah football this year, so much so that I wanted to watch the PAC 12 opener live and not on my DVR….

Oh wait. I still don’t have the PAC12 Network. Good thing my brother-in-law lives just down the street. I got to his house just in time and didn’t miss a single snap of that dumpster fire of a game.

Holy crap, what happened?

I really need to stop reading the reports from practice during Fall Camp. What are the coaches going to say? “Man we look like utter garbage right now. We have a quarterback whose shoulders prohibit him from throwing more than five yards, a back up from a DII school and an offensive line that couldn’t stop Mother Theresa from getting through.”

Wouldn’t it be refreshing if coaches actually spoke their mind? I know it would get me better prepared to watch the games. Unfortunately, coaches are also held somewhat responsible for getting fans in the seats so they usually keep all the pertinent information to themselves during fall camp and express sunshine and lollipops.

I’m a sucker; I bought into the hype. The offense was ahead of schedule and the defense was solid. I still think the defense is solid but the offense… yikes.

Unfortunately for both sides of the ball they came up against a buzz saw in Arizona State (a team that looks more disciplined than any Erickson team in previous years).

The story of the Utah v Arizona State game has been on the offensive woes of Utah but the defense truly lost the game for Utah last Saturday. You cannot spot the other team 21 points in the first quarter and nearly 400 yards in the first half alone and think you’re going to win that game.

An insecure offense sees the points put up on what was the strength of the team in its defense and they instantly become basket cases and with an inexperienced offensive coordinator a perfect storm of poor play calling, poor execution and playing hurt players becomes an anemic offense.

What Arizona State did to Utah’s defense should be reviewed by every offense in the PAC12 the rest of the season.

First the offense for ASU never allowed Utah’s defensive front to line up. Without lining up, there are no shifts across the line causing the opposing offense to make quick decisions usually ending up in a mismatch in Utah’s favor. That shift hardly happened on Saturday night and the result was absolutely no pressure on the quarterback.

[side note: this kid for ASU running the spread option to perfection against what was thought to be a strong defense is only a freshman. Heaven help us all.]

The defensive backfield for Utah was all over the place as well. The spread option for ASU created terrifying mismatches, most of them being an open receiver being covered by air since there was no one within 5 yards to the receiver or tight end.

Now I know how Texas A&M fan must have felt in 2004 when they played Urban Meyer, Alex Smith and the Utes that made it to the Fiesta Bowl.  Who can forget the defensive coordinator that mouthed, “wow,” when Utah went up 21-0 in the first quarter.

The only solace I take defensively from the game is that Sitake made some adjustments and did a relatively nice job in the second half.

I wish I could say the same thing about the offense.

The first issue with Utah’s offense is its line. I don’t care what adjustments they’ve made between games this year the line still isn’t blocking anyone and Jon Hays is the recipient of many a snot bubble from ASU defenders.

Who can forget when Hays was rag-dolled into his offensive line. I’ve never seen a head do that and still remain intact with the rest of the body.

Hays is a fighter, but he’s still not a very good quarterback. Has he improved? Unquestionably, yes. Is he starter material? Nope.

What is really sad is Utah has some weapons on offense this year and we simply cannot get them the ball…. ever.

The questions I just don’t have answers to are:

  1. Why take York out when White is still not 100%. York ran for 80+ yards. Most of them were hard earned after contact.
  2. Why only 14 pass plays? 14. I’m not sure but when a team is behind they may need to throw it a little bit more than 15 attempts.
  3. Someone needs to tell the U coaching staff that a ball can be thrown more than 35 yards. That may open up the defense just a little bit.

I need to see what Whittingham, Sitake and Johnson do this next game and the adjustments to the playbook before I expect the worst for the season.

I jokingly laughed with my brother-in-law about this Utah team. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Utah come out on Thursday and dominate against USC next week… but then of course the opposite could equally ring true as well. What you can expect is the unexpected with this Utah squad, which will make for an stressful, yet entertaining season.

Maybe the whole adjustment from Mountain West team to PAC 12 team is going to take longer than expected. If you look at the teams from Oregon to Arizona, USC to ASU what the conference specializes in is a quick, blinding fast offense. I got tired watching most of the games last weekend.

Many will question that Utah spent all its energy the weekend before against BYU. I cannot buy that theory. What I saw is a team ill-prepared on offense and defense and Graham and ASU more prepared than the Utes. It happens sometimes to the best of teams. Don’t believe me? Ask Alabama 2008.

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