We wanted to try something a little different as this off-season is getting underway. We asked ten questions of some of our most loyal Ute fans about the state of the Utah football program as well as what they say in 2012 and hope to see in 2013.
Many of you who follow this blog will know our good friends of the blog Dog and Deuce already. But there are a few new faces. Kyle Ariotti and Matt Coleman are co-workers of mine. Dave Richards is a long time friend and his brother Rob and I have had many spirited debates about BYU and Utah sports. But most importantly, each is a dedicated and passionate Utah football fan.
We will post one question with each response every day for the next ten weekdays. Make sure to check in every day to get your University of Utah Utes update from our roundtable of Utah loyalists.
2. In your opinion, what was the biggest issue or issues that affected the offense this season?
Matt Coleman – The biggest issue, in my opinion, was the instability at the quarterback position. It wasn’t until five games in that the Utes went with freshman Travis Wilson for the rest of the season. Another issue was the offensive line. That group took way too long to come together and it really cost the Utes in the first half of the season. Lastly, our receivers under performed big time!
Allen “Dog” Martindale – This is a tough question. There are so many concerning issues that its really difficult for me to narrow it down to one or two that are most troubling. Is it the terrible linebacker play? Or the incompetent kicking game? It could be Brian Blechen looking clueless at times or an offensive line that can’t pass block. Maybe it’s the lack of talent at quarterback or the disappearance of DeVonte Christopher. But when I really think about it, none of these things concern me half as much as the irresponsible, undisciplined and unorganized coaching that I saw this year. Ute fans have come to put a lot of trust in Kyle Whittingham (and lets face it, he’s earned it). But something has changed in the last few years. His lackluster and casual approach to the offensive side of the ball is very worrisome. He seems to think that anyone can run an offense, which I think is why he hired an inexperienced 25 year old to be his offensive coordinator. Couple this with injury prone and poorly recruited quarterbacks and you have a recipe for disaster. The lack of discipline he instills in his players is also big cause for concern. His teams have always been undisciplined which results in a lot of stupid penalties, but this problem seems to have worsened. The penalty discrepancy seems to grow larger and larger and the timing of big penalties seems to get worse and worse. This is something he needs to get control of immediately or it could ultimately be his undoing.
Dave Richards – I can summarize it with two letters. “Q” “B”. Jordan Wynn was just waiting to get hurt and always looked nervous of the big hit. Travis Wilson will be good if he can get his progressions down quicker.
Kyle Ariotti – Biggest issue was our offensive line. Too many injuries and too many without experience. Total disaster!
Rob Richards – Third down conversions. This could be play calling, down & distance, field position, whatever… 33% is not good enough. It is notable that in Utah’s losses, their 3rd down conversion rate was a meager 25%… While in their wins it was 45%. That number is significant because back in 2008 (Sugar Bowl win), Utah converted on 3rd downs at a 45% rate for the whole season. That year in Utah’s losses… there were none.
James “Deuce” Dyer – This is a tough question given that we had a young, first year
offensive coordinator leading the Utes offense this year. But first and foremost we saw a decision not to run the ball with determination and consistency that needs to be in place when supporting a back up quarterback, even more so when starting a true freshman. I questioned from the beginning of the season why our coaches have come to believe that Travis Wilson can be an effective runner of the ball from behind center. He doesn’t seem to be the quickest or fleetest of foot, plus it leaves him vulnerable to injury and increases number of hits he will take in a given week or season. Second, the passing game lacked in down field throws and made it more difficult for Dres Anderson and Devonte Christopher to use their open field skills when catching short passes. This also is a main reason why the Fly Sweep play that worked so well last year with Reggie Dunn wasn’t really that effective of a play either. Third, the final and easiest problem to fix is the lack of discipline. Whether it was the O:, WR or RB numerous and untimely penalties disrupted promising drives or stifled game changing plays. Unfortunately for Utah fans this has been the case the last 3 years and possibly even earlier.