University of Utah Football Roundtable – Defensive Woes

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.

Utes Logo3. In your opinion, what was the biggest issue or issues that affected the defense this season?

Matt Coleman – The biggest concern and problem was the secondary.  Opposing teams’ quarterbacks picked apart the secondary; even Colorado passed for over 300 yards on Utah’s secondary which is inexcusable considering how bad Colorado is.  Another issue was when teams spread the defense out, our linebackers had trouble covering the edges and a lot of big plays were given up when teams got to the edge.  There also wasn’t consistent play from the linebackers and that was partly due to the heavy rotation the coaches used by not sticking with certain guys.

Allen “Dog” Martindale – Going into the season the hopes were very high for this defense.  Fans had expectations that it could be one of the greatest defenses Utah has ever had.  Although the defense had some good performances here and there, it was hardly the greatest in school history.  The biggest hole I saw was in the linebacking corps.  They could not stop anyone, which put far too much pressure on the safeties (who also underperformed at times this year).  Other than the linebackers, the corners and the play of Brian Blechen were big disappointments.

Dave Richards – Penalties. Also our offense left our defense on the field for too much of the game. With Star receiving so much attention the other lineman should have been more productive.

Kyle Ariotti – As in the last couple years we didn’t have that solid group of linebackers. The future looks bright at that spot, but have a long offseason ahead of us.

Rob Richards – Creating turnovers. Whitt & Coach Sitake’s ‘bend but don’t break’ defense gives up yards, but is usually pretty good in the red zone. They played fine, but just weren’t opportunistic enough (only eight INT’s compared to 19 last year). PAC12 really throws it around and this could/should be higher. Also, linebackers proved to be too slow this past season.

James “Deuce” Dyer – Defensively we saw a defensive line forced to carry the load and when the DL didn’t play very well then the defensive unit as a whole struggled.  In Dog and Deuce Episode #83 I talked about how the biggest question mark on our defense would be our new and untested LB group.  Needless to say those guys struggled to be consistent tacklers and in coverage, they may have made a few big plays but it seemed like doing the little things was difficult for this new group.  If the Utes hope to have more or any success in the coming years the likes of Reilly, Fakahafua and others need to step up and make the little plays.  The LBs weren’t the only group of defensive players that struggled, so did our safeties and corner backs.  Deep balls weren’t played well by either group and it seems to me at least that they struggled to get angles to make plays on the ball or player for most of the year.  Although they did improve over the last 3-4 games of the year which could be because of the lesser teams the Utes played.  One areas of concern was the leader of this group, Brian Blechen, at times seemed disinterested or unprepared.  All Ute fans know about his suspension and many thought he might leave for the NFL before his senior season, I  hope he rebounds next season and returns to the form Ute fans enjoyed previously.

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