Tuesday, September 4. 2012
Posted by Sideshow in Red, Blue And Pigskin
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The results are in, and all returns are as expected. With the first week of games in the books, there were relatively few surprise. The Utes rolled an opponent they had no business even being on the field with, meanwhile down in Provo, the Cougars got walloped.
In All Honesty
Just wanted to give a quick note about this week. Holiday travel limited my actual viewing of either Utah and BYU to one quarter of the Utah game. And I won't have been able to watch a recording of either game until after this is posted. So all analysis of this game, is based mostly on Radio listening, and internet post game reports.
With such an absolutely dreadful opponent, there's not much the Utes could actually gain from last week's matchup. But they could have lost a lot by suffering a major injury. The Utes were able to make it through the entire game without a major injury. In doing such, they accomplished the biggest goal of the week.
So what about the rest of the game? What can we take from it.
Any analysis has to take into account the quality (not much) of opponent, but early returns show the Defense may even better than advertised. Northern Colorado crossed midfield once. On the game they gained 114 yards of total offense, or about 5 yards less than the Wolfman John White gained on his 25 carries. In fact, about the only thing that was stopping Utah defenders from making plays, were other Utah defenders making plays. On multiple occasions a Utah Linebacker (usually Trevor Reily), or secondary member was in perfect position, or had jumped a route, and ready to return an interception for a pick-six. Unfortunately for them, the ball was being batted down earlier on by a defensive lineman (usually Nate Fakahafua.)
Overall, a very good performance by a defensive unit that will keep the Utes in most games this year.
The Worry Wasn't On the Defense
Offensively, it wasn't as glowing of a review. The Offense started slow, even ending the first quarter in a 0-0 tie. QB Jordan Wynn started slow, under throwing a deep pass on the first drive intended for Dres Anderson, that was intercepted. However, once he, and the rest of the offense settled in, and shook off the rust, the Utes started chugging, with Wynn himself, actually looking a bit impressive. Gone was the floating ducks, and side arm delivery of last year. Instead Wynn looked to have regained some strength and velocity.
In the running game, John White looked a lot like John White. Takes about a quarter to get going, but hard to stop, and someone who will keep chugging away. The big difference from 2011, is that the depth hoped for during off season camps, looks to actually be legit, and backups Kelvin York, and Jarrell Oliver both delivered some nice carries in back duties.
In the booth, Offensive Coordinator Brian Johnson had a solid debut. The Utes looked to have a good run/pass ratio, as well as seemed to do a good job in mixing up plays, and packages.
Of course, they were playing Northern Colorado, so there's that.
The Extreme Negative
Of course, there was one bit of worry, that is legit, whether the opponent is Norther Colorado, or USC. For the 2nd consecutive regular season game, the Utes hosted a team from the state of Colorado. Apparently teams from Colorado are kicking Kryptonite for the Utes, as Coleman Petersen, of the 3 missed chip shot field goal frame against Colorado, missed another gimme field goal, and an extra point.
Utah kicking game was a major point of concern in the off season, and it seems like it was good to worry. Coleman Petersen was shaky most of 2011, culminating in his ultimate collapse in the Colorado game. In the bowl game against Georgia Tech, Petersen, again seemed shaky, as he came close to missing a few extra points.
It may be time to look at replacing Petersen on the field goal unit with Kickoff kicker Nick Marsh. If the kicking game doesn't get figured out, it will cost Utah at least two games during the season.
Now That The Exhibitions Are Done
Next week, the Utes actually play a real team. For possibly the last time ever, the Utes will travel through Logan Canyon play the Aggies at Romney Stadium. The Aggies had their best season in many decades last year, but are trying to replace two great players in LB Bobby Wagner, and RB Robert Turbin. The Aggies showed the running game will still be in effect against Southern Utah, by having three rushers over 50 yards, led by Joe Hill's 119.
Due to injuries to Wynn and Nelson, the Aggies have arguably the best QB in the state with true sophomore Chucky Keeton. However, the Aggies did suffer an injury to backup Adam Kennedy.
The Aggies represent a bit more than the group of luke-warm bodies the Utes faced in week one. The Aggies very well could be sleeper pick to be the final WAC champion ever, and could be a bit of a trap game, if the Utes are to busy thinking about the Holy War the next week.
Schemes Are Great, But Players Matter
When Mike Leach took the job at Washington State, most pundits started reliving his glory days, when his Air Raid offense tore up Big XII defenses. They imagined Washington State taking the field with the same high powered offense we're used to. And it may still happen, but here's the thing about any great scheme, if you don't have the right players, you'll fail every time.
And that essentially is why Washington State may be in for a bit more dark before the dawn.
It doesn't surprise me one bit that the Cougars from Pullman, Washington were out classed, out played, and completely embarrased by the Cougars from Provo, Utah. Leach may eventually bring his offense to Washington, but it will take a while for him to get the right players, and to get his scheme set up. It also doesn't help that Leach's team typically treat the defensive side of the ball as an interruption that happens between offensive possessions.
All that being said, it was a nice defensive performance by BYU to keep Washington State out of the end zone. The first time since 2006 that a Mike Leach team failed to score a touch down. Led by Kyle Van Oy, who was all over the field, the Cougars flummoxed Washington State, and specifically senior QB Jeff Teul, who may not be the starter for long.
The one surprise of the game, was that the Cougars from Provo actually had a bit of Air Raid like aspects to their offense. Again it helps that they were playing against a Mike Leach defense, but Riley Nelson and company were moving the ball at will early in the game. There were a couple concerns though.
First Cody Hoffman suffered an injury to his thigh and did not return. With next week's game against Weber State, chances are he won't be on the field again until the Holy War. Secondly, it sounded like Riley Nelson, was still taking too many hits. Something that will continue to happen, if the Cougars insist on rotating the interior of their offensive line.
I also noticed the announcers of the game talking about Nelson having a tendency to under throw some of his throws, and since the announcers were Greg Wrubell and company, (whose homerism makes my 11-1 prediction last week look down to earth) I'm shocked the negativity was mentioned, especially considering Riley under throwing isn't exactly a surprise.
One major surprise for the Cougars from Provo, was the breakout performance of tight end Kaneakua Friel who caught 6 passes for 101 yards and two TD's.
Everyone's Favorite Player
They say that everyone's favorite player is the backup quarterback. Especially when your starter is someone the fan base isn't exactly sold on due to injuries, or lack of talent. Both BYU, and Utah's backup QB this week only made the fans want them even more as both came in and scored touch downs on their first every plays.
Utah's true freshman Travis Wilson scored two TD's with his legs. Passing wise, we didn't get much to judge as he threw only two passes. Meanwhile down in Provo, the Cougars used Taysom Hill as their change of pace QB, who decided the best way to change the pace was with a 18 yard td pass to Friel to put the Cougars from Provo up 14-0.
Scrimmage Prior To The Holy War
Byu will play their garbage opponent this week, but at least they are helping out an in state team, as they welcome the Weber State Wildcats. Also Weber State has for the past few years been among the upper teams in Div 1-AA. However, after an offseason that saw them replace long time Head Coach Ron McBride, only to have the replacement burn tread on his way out of town to replace Petrino in Arkansas.
So two head coach changes in less than a single offseason has the wildcats in possible turmoil, and it'll be interesting to see how it manifests on the field.
Answers In Weeks Upcoming
Both Utah and BYU may not get complete answers to the questions around their team in the first two weeks, but with the schedules make steep improvements in quality starting in week three, how they manage to take any small lesson learned during the first couple weeks, will be the key to whether 2012 is successful.
Just wanted to remind everyone that we will be recording the second episode of the podcast this upcoming Friday, in preparation for the Holy War. Reader participation is highly encouraged, so please send your thoughts, questions, and smack talk either in a comment on this blog or via email to email@example.com.
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