Category Archives: Football

Is Utah Football Preparing to Adopt the Stanford Offense?

Right now Utah football fans are super excited.  Instead of recruiting a bunch of mid level recruits and working to improve them through coaching, the Utes are working to recruit higher ranked recruits.  If the Utes can take the next step in their recruiting they can improve from the 8-4/9-3 talent level they currently have.  So far the results have been good with Utah football recruiting several 4 star recruits and several high level 3 star recruits.  Last Friday night Utah football announced that Jack Tuttle who is a 4 star quarterback accepted a 2018 football scholarship.

Utah football fans are excited because Jack Tuttle is a highly regarded recruit who none of us heard of before last Friday.  Jack Tuttle may or may not ever play for the Utes because 1 year is a long time in football recruiting, he might change his mind or he could have a bad year or he could get injured and the Utes wouldn’t want him anymore.  Or he could be so great that suddenly all the top teams want him and promise him that he will be the starter Day 1 and he wouldn’t want to come to Utah.  However what is most interesting about the Jack Tuttle signing isn’t the fact that a 4 star quarterback has interest in the Utah Utes but what it means for Utah’s offense in the future.  Jack Tuttle is a pocket passer.  Recruiting Jack Tuttle indicates that Utah is considering making serious changes to its offense over the next few years.

One of Utah football’s biggest problems since joining the Pac12 has been their offense.  At first the Utah Utes didn’t have the speed and skill players to field a competitive offense.  Utah has always been good on the O-line and D-line.  Utah was able to be one of the top teams outside the major conferences because of their O-line and D-line.  However they didn’t have the receivers nor the quarterback play to win week in and week out in the Pac12.  Since joining the Pac12 Utah football has been able to recruit better players and every year Utah’s offense is a little bit better than the year before.

However the problem with Utah football’s offense is Utah wants to run a spread, high octane offense.  The problem is Utah’s offense doesn’t match its grand strategy to win games nor does it match Utah’s recruiting strengths.  Kyle Whittingham is a really good coach.  The work he’s done over the years with the Utah Utes is phenomenal.  He wants to win games by playing great defense, controlling the clock on offense and out executing the other team.  It is a good strategy and it is very effective.

The problem is Utah football runs a spread offense.  To run a spread offense well, teams need to play fast and run lots of plays.  Good spread offenses generate big plays by playing fast, getting the other team in a bad defensive formation and exploiting their matchup problems.  Kyle Whittingham wants to play a slow game which minimizes the effectiveness of the spread offense.

The other big problem with Utah’s offense is their offense doesn’t match their recruiting strengths.  Utah is a really good football recruiting ground, even though most Utah fans don’t know it.  Utah produces tons of guys who can play on the O-line and the D-line.  The 3 most important parts of every team are the O-line, D-line and quarterback.  The state of Utah bulk produces O-linemen and D-linemen better than anywhere else in the western United States.  Utah doesn’t produce a lot of skill players like wide receivers.  The Utah Utes always can find and develop good running backs.  Nobody knows why but the Utes almost always have a NFL level running back.

When we look at the strengths of Utah football recruiting on offense it is the O-line and running backs.  The biggest struggle in recruiting is wide receiver.  The Utes also makes another mistake in recruiting and that is Utah football doesn’t recruit a lot of tight ends.  The state of Utah produces a lot of great tight ends.  BYU football used to run a supply line of tight ends from their football program right into the NFL.  The Utah Utes are making a huge mistake not maximizing the quality of their tight ends.

For Utah football to take the next step with their football program, they need an offense that matches the strengths of their recruiting and minimizes its weaknesses.  The Utah Utes need to adopt the Stanford offense.  Stanford has had a top level Pac12 program for most of the last decade based off of having an incredibly physical offensive line, a ton of tight ends and a physical running game.  Stanford had 3 years with Andrew Luck as their quarterback when they were a top 5 team in the nation, but outside of Andrew Luck their quarterbacks were no big deal.

The Jack Tuttle way too early signing indicates that Utah football is going to change their offense over the next 2 or 3 years.  College football recruiting websites say that Jack Tuttle is a pocket passer.  He isn’t the kind of quarterback Utah has recruited in the past.  Recruiting a player like Jack Tuttle indicates that over the next few years Utah is going to adopt an offense like Stanford’s offense.  This is a good thing because the Utah Utes running the Stanford offense will allow Utah to match their recruiting strengths and minimize their recruiting weaknesses.

Utah football may also be getting ready to exploit a major inefficiency in college football recruiting: the pocket passer inefficiency.  Right now the top programs recruit lots of good receivers and they like to run a spread offense.  If they can spread their opposition out with their receivers and have a quarterback who can run for first downs they can hold the ball and wear their competition down.  The top programs like Alabama and Ohio State like to recruit black quarterbacks because it is easier to get a fast black quarterback who can make 1 read and either throw or run.  They don’t want to invest in a pro style offense quarterback because it is harder to develop these guys.  Besides their strength is they have lots of great receivers who can get open easily.  The first read usually is open on these teams.

Right now there is a huge inefficiency because the top programs aren’t interested in recruiting and developing White quarterbacks.  In football the best quarterbacks are always White.  But the best college football programs don’t want to spend the time and effort developing them.  Utah has a chance to become the school that will recruit and develop White quarterbacks.  Utah could quickly recruit a strong stable of White quarterbacks just by showing that they are willing to develop them.  Right now is a huge opportunity for Utah football to take the next step with its football program.  If Utah gets into the White quarterback recruiting and developing game, the Utes can have good O-lines, D-lines and quarterbacks and be in position to take the program from the 8-4 level to the 10-2 level.

Kyle Whittingham is a really smart guy.  He already knows everything that I just wrote.  He doesn’t think about it in terms of racial awareness like White quarterbacks, but thinks of it in terms of “pocket passers.”  Over the next month or so look for Utah football to announce that they hired somebody really talented to work with quarterbacks.  Does anybody know what Norm Chow is up to these days?  Recruiting players like Jack Tuttle shows that Utah is getting serious about running an offense that matches their recruiting strengths and that Utah football is interested in exploiting the “pocket passer” inefficiency in college football.

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Utah Utes vs. Oregon Preview

The Utah Utes are 8-2.  It’s been a great season.  The Utes have struggled with injuries all year and at times have been forced to rely on smoke and mirrors to grind out games.  Now it is down to the last 2 weeks of the season.  If the Utes win out then they go to the Pac12 Championship game.  Up first for the Utah Utes are the Oregon Ducks

Oregon Ducks season so far

It’s been an absolute train wreck for the Oregon Ducks.  Oregon is 3-7.  Their defense is the lowest ranked defense in the Pac12.  Everybody is scoring left and right on Oregon this year.  Oregon’s head coach will be fired as soon as the season is over.  At quarterback, Oregon tried to go the 5th year transfer from a FCS team again this year.  This year their quarterback wasn’t as good as Vernon Adams was last year.  Overall it’s just been an ugly season for the Ducks.

It’s a strange thing that Oregon has struggled so much this year.  The Oregon Ducks have continued to recruit well.  Oregon’s defensive coordinator has had success in the past running successful defenses.  I thought that Oregon was going to be a weaker team than in the past but I’ve been completely blown away with how bad the Ducks were this year.  Oregon shouldn’t be anywhere near this bad.  Let’s all enjoy Oregon’s struggles this year because next year they are going to have somebody like Chip Kelly coaching the team again and they will be winning big.

Utah Utes plan for Oregon

The Utah Utes offense this year is much better than in the past.  The numbers might not look that much better but just by the eye ball test you can tell that Utah’s offense is much better than in the past.  For Utah’s offense to have a good game against Oregon the Utes just need to avoid big turnovers.  That’s really all there is to it.  Utah should be able to throw with ease and Joe Williams should have a monster game.  I expect Utah to be able to score 35 or more points on Oregon without too many problems.

Conclusion and prediction

The biggest danger that the Utah Utes will have with Oregon is looking ahead to their game of the year vs. Colorado.  However despite being a weak team this year Oregon is still a name brand football program and the Utes are going to be excited to smack them around because who knows when the next time will be when the Utes can smack Oregon around?  I expect the Utah Utes to have a very high energy game and beat Oregon by at least 2 touchdowns.  Let’s call this a 35-21 victory for the Utes.  Vegas has the Utes as a 14.5 point favorite so it seems like my prediction is in line with the experts.  Go Utes!!!!!!

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High Energy Utah Utes Get Their Offense Going and Beat Down ASU

What a week!  It started off with Mr. High Energy himself winning the presidency.  Not to be outdone the Utah Utes worked hard to match Donald Trump’s energy levels and won a dominating 49-26 victory over ASU.  The high energy Utes knew to use the Donald Trump formula, start off acting incompetent by having 2 turnovers on their first 2 drives and by falling behind 13-0.  Then the Utes got their act together and got their offense rolling big time.

Troy Williams drops his energy levels and dominates

Troy Williams is quite an interesting player.  He comes into every game super high energy and always is too amped up in the first quarter.  Once he settles down sometime in the second quarter or early in the second half he plays like one of the best quarterbacks in the Pac12.  Against ASU things were no different.  In the first quarter he couldn’t complete a pass.  He was throwing into coverage and could have thrown a couple of interceptions.  He had a stupid pitch on an option play that led to a turnover.

Then the second quarter started.  Troy Williams threw 3 touchdowns in the second quarter.  He threw lots of beautiful deep balls.  He was accurate on all of this throws and he didn’t throw the ball into coverage.  He played like a one of the best quarterbacks in the Pac12.  He continued to play really well in the second half and dominated the game.  When Troy Williams figures out how to come out calm and relaxed he’s going to be a great quarterback.  Next year, after going through the Pac12 grind, Troy Williams should be a great quarterback.

Joe Williams has big runs in the second half

Arizona State loves to bring their safeties to the line of scrimmage to stop the run.  Their plan worked in the first half.  They were able to keep Joe Williams from getting going.  However at halftime ASU had to adjust their defense to try to stop Troy Williams.  This opened up room for Joe Williams to run.  He opened the second half with a huge long run for a touchdown.

Since returning from retirement Joe Williams has been the best running back in college football.  He’s been better than Leonard Fournette.  He’s running with power and authority like Devontae Booker mixed with massive speed that lets him break massive runs.  He’s come back and is playing like a professional who is there to do a job and making sure to do his job.  It is really special seeing an incredibly talented player, put things together and make a major step forward.  If he continues his level of professionalism then he is going to do really well in the NFL.

Hunter Dimick takes the national sack lead

Hunter Dimick had the game of his life where he sacked the ASU quarterback 5 times.  He now is leading the nation in sacks.  He has a great motor and runs all over the field and makes lots of great plays.  It’s a strange thing because my impression of him was that he was playing hard and doing some nice things but not really dominating.  Now I see that he’s been an absolute monster all year long.  Go figure.  He’s going to play in the NFL.  He looks like he can play as a 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL.  I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do at the next level.

The defense in general had a good game.  They overcame the Utah Utes offense’s two early turnovers by holding ASU to 13 points in the first quarter when things could have been worse.  They had some poor tackling at times, especially in the second quarter where ASU got a touchdown off of a broken play where the Utes forgot to tackle.  In the second half, Utah held ASU to 2 field goals and completely dominated the game.

A word about ASU

Arizona State has been really good over the last 3 or 4 years.  They play an aggressive defense just like the Utah Utes play.  However this year it seems like their pass rush isn’t as strong as in the past and it was leaving ASU’s defensive backs exposed.  In the first half they did a really good job of shutting down Joe Williams.  However they weren’t able to shut down the Utah Utes passing game in the first half.  Once ASU had to change their defense to stop the pass, Joe Williams was able to run wild in the second half.  I think that ASU will get a win against Arizona and be bowl eligible but this ASU team is a big step below previous ASU teams.

Conclusion

The Utah Utes are 8-2.  The Utes have a very winnable game against Oregon next Saturday.  Then after beating Oregon the Utes have the game for all of the marbles against Colorado.  If the Utah Utes get to 10-2 they will be in the Pac12 Championship Game and in position to go to the Rose Bowl.  Let that sink in for a second.  The Utah Utes are in position to go to the freaking Rose Bowl.

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Utah Utes vs. Arizona State Preview

Now that the distraction of the 2016 Presidential election is over we can get back to talking about things that actually matter: Utah Utes football.  The Utes are in a great position to have one of their best seasons.  Tonight they take on Arizona State in a must win game.  Let’s take a look at how Utah is going to win tonight.

Time for Troy Williams to throw and throw and throw

Arizona State can’t defend the pass at all.  They have one of the lowest ranking pass defenses in the Pac12.  Arizona State started the season 4-0 and then promptly lost 4 of their next 5 games.  Teams are throwing the ball all over Arizona State and the Utah Utes need to keep this trend going.

Troy Williams has played pretty well all year for the Utah Utes.  He hasn’t been very efficient for the last 3 games but he’s making lots of big plays so it really counter acts his efficiency problems.  The biggest other struggle Troy Williams had was most of his best receivers were injured.  Tim Patrick was injured and had to play through injuries.  By the end of the Washington game Tim Patrick was playing well and looked close to full health.  Utah’s bye week came at a perfect time and the Utes should have several offensive weapons back.  Let’s expect a good passing show tonight.

Can the Utah Utes run on Arizona State?

One of the few places where Arizona State has played well this year is on run defense.  The Utah Utes always struggle to run the ball on Arizona State because the Sun Devils like to jam the line of scrimmage with their safeties.

However Utah’s offensive line is playing really good this year in the running game.  Joe Williams is playing like the best running back in the country.  I think that ASU will get lots of stops on Joe Williams but he will break a few big long runs.

Utah Utes tactical plan for ASU

The Utah Utes and ASU Sun Devils always play a very tough time.  ASU is having a bit of an injury crisis  and their quarterback has been struggling with injuries.  Nevertheless ASU has a good coach and he knows how to make Utah struggle.

I expect this game to be a real struggle.  Utah and ASU always play a tough grinding game.  Expect The Utah Utes to struggle to get their running game going in the first half.  Troy Williams has struggled in the first half of games this year and unfortunately this trend is likely to continue.  Then in the second half he plays really well and this likely will continue.

I expect this game to be low scoring in the first half.  I expect Utah’s defense to stop ASU early.  As the game goes on I expect the Utah Utes offense to wear out Arizona State’s defense and by halfway through the 3rd quarter Utah will start to enforce their offensive strength onto ASU.  By the 4th quarter I expect Utah’s offense to take control of the game.

Conclusion and prediction

Let’s take a look at what Las Vegas thinks about tonight’s game.  Vegas has Utah as a 6 point favorite over ASU.  I think that this will be a low scoring game in the first half but the Utah Utes will take control in the back end of the game.  I don’t like to bet against Vegas unless I have a very compelling reason to.  I think that Utah is going to win this game by a full touchdown or even slightly more.  Let’s call this a 28-20 win for the Utes.

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Utah Utes vs. Oregon Preview

The Utah Utes are 8-2.  It’s been a great season.  The Utes have struggled with injuries all year and at times have been forced to rely on smoke and mirrors to grind out games.  Now it is down to the last 2 weeks of the season.  If the Utes win out then they go to the Pac12 Championship game.  Up first for the Utah Utes are the Oregon Ducks

Oregon Ducks season so far

It’s been an absolute train wreck for the Oregon Ducks.  Oregon is 3-7.  Their defense is the lowest ranked defense in the Pac12.  Everybody is scoring left and right on Oregon this year.  Oregon’s head coach will be fired as soon as the season is over.  At quarterback, Oregon tried to go the 5th year transfer from a FCS team again this year.  This year their quarterback wasn’t as good as Vernon Adams was last year.  Overall it’s just been an ugly season for the Ducks.

It’s a strange thing that Oregon has struggled so much this year.  The Oregon Ducks have continued to recruit well.  Oregon’s defensive coordinator has had success in the past running successful defenses.  I thought that Oregon was going to be a weaker team than in the past but I’ve been completely blown away with how bad the Ducks were this year.  Oregon shouldn’t be anywhere near this bad.  Let’s all enjoy Oregon’s struggles this year because next year they are going to have somebody like Chip Kelly coaching the team again and they will be winning big.

Utah Utes plan for Oregon

The Utah Utes offense this year is much better than in the past.  The numbers might not look that much better but just by the eye ball test you can tell that Utah’s offense is much better than in the past.  For Utah’s offense to have a good game against Oregon the Utes just need to avoid big turnovers.  That’s really all there is to it.  Utah should be able to throw with ease and Joe Williams should have a monster game.  I expect Utah to be able to score 35 or more points on Oregon without too many problems.

Conclusion and prediction

The biggest danger that the Utah Utes will have with Oregon is looking ahead to their game of the year vs. Colorado.  However despite being a weak team this year Oregon is still a name brand football program and the Utes are going to be excited to smack them around because who knows when the next time will be when the Utes can smack Oregon around?  I expect the Utah Utes to have a very high energy game and beat Oregon by at least 2 touchdowns.  Let’s call this a 35-21 victory for the Utes.  Vegas has the Utes as a 14.5 point favorite so it seems like my prediction is in line with the experts.  Go Utes!!!!!!

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Utah Utes Play Well Ref Lets Washington Get Away with 3 Holds on Game Winning Punt Return

What is there to say?  Pac12 refs suck and gave the game away to the Washington Huskies.  The Utah Utes played well and could have won but the Huskies had a game winning punt return touchdown on a return where Washington got away with 3 illegal blocks.  It was a triggering play to say the least.  So what happened in the game?

High Energy Troy Williams Was too High Energy

Troy Williams started the game 2-11 passing.  You could see that he was really amped up to play his old team and the excitement got to him a little bit.  He threw a couple balls into coverage and one of them easily could have been a pick 6.  In the second half Troy Williams played very well and made some excellent throws.  In a game like the Utah Utes vs. Washington game where the margin was super tight Troy Williams’ slow start gave Utah no margin for error.  Still he played well enough for Utah to win this game with a little bit of luck.

Penalties penalties penalties

The Utah Utes had 10 penalties for 65 yards.  All of them were on offense and all of them put the Utes into bad positions.  A big part of Troy Williams getting off to a slow start was due to having to throw in a lot of 2nd and long and 3rd and long situations.  He really needed some 2nd and 2 situations where he could make some easy throws or take a few shots down field.  On the final drive the Utah Utes had a bad false start that put them into a bad 2nd and long situation that they couldn’t get out of.

In a positive sign the Utah Utes didn’t have a turnover.  They held onto the ball well and didn’t fumble and after the first few drives of the game Troy Williams didn’t make any throws that could have been intercepted.  Overall Utah played a clean game and mental mistakes didn’t really kill the Utes.  When you lose, the one way you don’t want to lose is by turning the ball over.  Sometimes you play a good team and you lose.  This was one of those games.

Joe Williams moves the chains and runs on 3rd and 2

Since returning from retirement Joe Williams has been the absolute best running back in college football.  He’s been carrying the load and getting tons of stuff done.  Today Joe Williams had to do hard runs inside on 3rd and short and in the Red Zone.  He was excellent on all of them.  There were several situations where he ran over a defender to push into the End Zone or to convert a First Down.  He looked like Devontae Booker and he looks like an NFL running back who is going to do very well there.

Utah Utes defense

The Utah Utes had a tough job on defense against Washington.  Jake Browning is a NFL quarterback.  He is going to be a First Round Draft Pick and maybe Number 1 Overall Pick.  College football teams who have a NFL quarterback have a huge structural advantage and they usually perform very well.  The Utes did a very good job of holding his offense to 24 points.  Holding an NFL quarterback on a good team to 24 points is an excellent defensive performance.

The place where Washington had a big advantage was with their running back.  Myles Gaskin had an excellent game.  He was running a sweep play that the Utah Utes struggled to stop.  It seemed that Utah had 2 problems with the sweep play.  First of all the Utes had to play cover and couldn’t jam the box to stop the running game because they didn’t want Jake Browning to beat them.  The second problem was, frankly, Utah’s linebackers aren’t good enough to get outside on those kinds of plays.  Still in football unless you are Alabama with 25 players on your defense who project as 1st or 2nd Round NFL Draft picks over the next 3 years, you have to give up something.

Washington Huskies over the next few weeks

At this point in the season the Utah Utes need to become huge Washington Huskies fans.  Utah really needs Washington to go 12-0 so that the Utes are in position to go to the Rose Bowl.  Washington has 4 games to go.  The toughest of which is in 2 weeks at home vs. USC.  USC is playing very well since switching to Sam Darnold at quarterback.  If he started from the start of the year USC may very well only have a first week loss vs. Alabama.  I would not be shocked in the slightest if USC runs the table and ends up 9-3 on the year.

Utah Utes for the rest of the year

This is the year for the Utah Utes to make it to the Rose Bowl and to get to the Rose Bowl, Utah first needs to win out.  The good news is the Arizona State game and the Oregon game are both very winnable.  If Colorado doesn’t have their starting quarterback back then the Colorado game is also going to be a win.  The second thing that Utah needs to have happen is have Washington win out.  If Washington wins out and the Utes get to the Pac12 Championship Game, then the Utes can get to the Rose Bowl by winning the Pac12 Championship Game or by losing the Pac12 Championship Game in a tight game and having Washington make it to the College Football Playoff.

I’m confident that the Utah Utes are going to win their next 2 games and have a really good chance of beating Colorado.  I think that Washington will win at least 3 more games.  I’m 50/50 on Washington’s chances vs. USC.  After losing today I expect Utah to drop 3 or 4 spots in the AP and Coaches polls.  However when the real polls come out on Tuesday, I expect Utah to be around 16 or 17 in the real polls.  It’s been a good Utah Utes season.  Let’s keep our energy levels high and be grateful that Utah looks like they are a 10-2 team in the freaking Pac12.  Phenomenal.

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Utah Utes vs Washington Preview #UtahvsWashington

Somehow some way the Utah Utes have gotten to 7-1 with smoke and mirrors.  Now it really gets real as the undefeated Washington Huskies come to Salt Lake City.  Washington is really good this year and is the Pac12 team most likely to make it to the College Football Playoff.  If the Utes are going to pull off a major upset then they will need to play their best game of the season.

Washington Huskies Preview

Washington is lead by the great Chris Petersen.  Chris Petersen has been one of the absolute best coaches in all of college football since his days coaching at Boise State.  Now he is in the process of building a juggernaut at Washington.  In a little over 2 years, he has taken a mid level Pac12 program to the top of the conference.  Everybody thinks that Washington is going to win the Pac12 and I agree with them.

Washington’s quarterback is Jake Browning.  Jake Browning is a future 1st Round NFL Draft pick and a leading contender to be drafted #1 overall next year or the following year.  He throws really well and makes really good decisions on where he throws.  He is the best quarterback that the Utah Utes will face all year.

Washington has a really good defense that stops the run and forces lots of turnovers.  They have tons of NFL players and are really difficult to play against.  Their offensive line is strong and they have lots of good receivers and a good running game.  This is a strong team from top to bottom.

I think that Washington is going to beat the Utah Utes but I think that all Utah fans should have some optimism going into this game.  Let’s look at the teams Washington beat to get to 7-0: Rutgers, Idaho, Portland State, Arizona, Stanford right when Stanford fell apart and became a bottom feeder team, Oregon who is awful this year and Oregon State who is a bottom feeder team.  Oregon hasn’t beaten anybody as good BYU this year.

The Utah Utes have beaten BYU, USC and even Josh Rosen less UCLA are all better than everybody who Washington has beaten.  Washington hasn’t played against a defense nearly as good as Utah’s defense.  Washington hasn’t played a game against anybody as good from top to bottom as the Utes so they very easily could struggle if this game gets into the 4th quarter and it is a 1 score game.

Utah Utes plan to beat Washington

This is a game where the Utah Utes are going to have to score to win.  Utah needs to get the lead one way or the other and make Washington play from behind.  Expect Troy Williams to come out throwing.  Tim Patrick has been limping out there for the last couple of weeks.  He’s only been playing when Utah is in the Red Zone.  I expect him to be pretty close to healthy and I expect him to play all game long.  Having Tim Patrick in there for the whole game will be a major boost to Utah’s offense.

I expect the Utah Utes to have struggles getting Joe Williams going.  Washington is has a very strong D-line and are going to do everything to stop the run and make the Utes one dimensional.  Nevertheless I expect Joe Williams to have a good game where he gets close to 100 yards.  I just have a hard time seeing him dominate like he has the last couple of weeks, of course I don’t think that anybody can dominate as much as he has the last 2 weeks.

On defense I can’t imagine that the Utah Utes will blitz like they did last week vs. UCLA.  UCLA was playing a backup quarterback so it made sense to blitz him heavily.  However the pass rush wasn’t getting home and UCLA’s backup quarterback had a bunch of huge plays and touchdowns.  If Utah uses a similar plan on Jake Browning then he will throw for 10 touchdown passes and Utah will lose in an embarrassing fashion.  Expect Utah to play a lot of cover defense.

A big problem that the Utah Utes had against UCLA was their tackling.  They couldn’t make any open field tackles and they ended up giving up a ton of unnecessary first downs and other big plays due to bad open field tackling.  If the Utes want to have any chance to win on Saturday then they better get their tackling in order ASAP.

Conclusion

I’m not going to lie, this is going to be a rough game for the Utah Utes.  I think that Utah can make it a competitive game and give Washington everything they want and more.  However Utah has just suffered too many injuries this year and just doesn’t have the horses to win this game.  I think that Utah will keep it close but will fade in the 4th quarter.  Let’s call this a 35-24 win for Washington

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High Energy Joe Williams Carries the Utah Utes to Victory over UCLA

I don’t think anybody saw that one coming yesterday.  What is there to say?  Joe Williams ran wild and single handedly gave the Utah Utes a 52-48 victory over UCLA.

Joe Williams Joe Williams Joe Williams

Joe Williams ran for an insane 332 yards on 29 carries and had 4 touchdowns.  He set a Utah Utes single game rushing record and was national player of the week.  He was absolutely something else.  He had 3 long touchdown runs against a good UCLA defense and made them look like a bunch of rank amateurs.

What was up with the Utah Utes defense?

It was a frustrating game for the Utah Utes defense.  It seemed like every time that the Utes brought a blitz, UCLA’s backup quarterback would throw for a huge UCLA gain.  The irony of the situation was that every time that Utah would drop and play cover defense UCLA’s quarterback would throw the ball into coverage.  Utah was able to get 4 interceptions and easily could have had more.

Kyle Whittingham and the Utah Utes defensive coordinators usually have really good defensive game plans but they absolutely dropped the ball on their tactics against UCLA.  If Utah had lost this game a lot of the blame for the loss would have fallen on Utah’s coaching staff for blitzing so often and setting their defense up to give up tons of big plays.

A word about UCLA

UCLA is having a really bad season.  At the start of the year the Bruins were the favorites to win the Pac12 South but they are just having tons of struggles.  UCLA’s offensive line can’t block at all.  UCLA had to do max protection where they left a tight end and a running back in to block.  On most plays UCLA only had 2 or 3 guys in their pass patterns.  UCLA had no running game at all.  By mid way through the second quarter UCLA completely abandoned the run for the rest of the game.  Looking ahead on UCLA’s schedule, UCLA is going to have a hard time getting to 6 wins.  Of their remaining 4 games only on their home game against Oregon State are they going to be favorites to win.

Conclusion

Well I thought that it would be a defensive struggle with two great defenses dominating against two timid offenses trying to avoid turnovers.  Well that didn’t happen because neither defense showed up.  Joe Williams played like an absolute superstar and ran the Utah Utes to a good victory over a desperate UCLA team.  Next week the Utes have their big free role game against Washington where if Utah can steal a win somehow they are in position to go to the college football playoff and if Utah loses no big deal because nobody expects them to win.  Let’s all be grateful that Utah pulled off a good win vs. UCLA and made sure to get a spit in their 2 game Hell run.

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Utah Utes Week 8 Preview vs. UCLA

The Utah Utes are 6-1 and going into their season defining 2 game Hell run vs. UCLA and Washington.  It’s been a real struggle all year for the Utes and outside of the back half of the 3rd quarter and 4th quarter against USC, they Utes haven’t looked good at all this year.  But hey, who cares.  The Utes are 6-1.  This week the Utah Utes take on UCLA at the Rose Bowl and it promises to be a real slug fest.

What’s up with UCLA?

It’s been a brutal year for UCLA.  They’ve struggled in Pac12 play and to compound things their superstar soon to be first player selected in the NFL draft quarterback Josh Rosen is injured.  Last Week Josh Rosen warmed up in an attempt to play but he couldn’t go.  Most people think that he is going to play this week.  The thought process is this week’s game is an absolute must win game for UCLA.  If UCLA loses this week they will struggle to get to 6 wins, so Rosen has to play.

Las Vegas seems to think that Rosen is going to play because they have UCLA as a 7 point favorite to win.  Winning by a full touchdown in a Pac12 game is a total beat down and there’s no way that UCLA is beating the Utah Utes by a full touchdown without Rosen, so Vegas thinks that Rosen is going to play and play like he is 100%.  I watched the UCLA vs. ASU game and even before he hurt is shoulder, Josh Rosen looked beat up.  His legs were hurt and he couldn’t avoid the pass rush at all.  He was a sitting duck in the pocket.  I really don’t see how he’s magically going to be better 2 weeks from all of that.

Besides Josh Rosen struggling with injuries, the biggest problem UCLA has is the O-line is a total sieve.  They are letting all teams get tons of pressure and they can’t open up run lanes for their running backs.  Having a poor offensive line is death for any offense and UCLA’s offense has been a total mess behind their poor O-line.

Still in spite of having a poor record the season hasn’t been a complete mess.  UCLA’s defense has played well and kept UCLA competitive.  UCLA was able to defeat BYU on the strength of their defense and stayed competitive against Stanford back when Stanford was still playing well.  UCLA has a lot of NFL talent on their defense so they can get the job done.

Utah Utes tactics against UCLA

Last year the Utah Utes were able to stop UCLA’s offense but still lost the game because the Utes couldn’t punch in the Red Zone.  Expect Utah to be able to stop UCLA’s offense again.  Utah’s defense is having a good season and forcing a lot of turnovers.  Expect the Utah defense to have another great game and hold UCLA to about 16 points.

The question facing the Utah Utes is can they get more than 16 points against a very good UCLA defense?  I think so.  Utah is getting their backup center back this week who should be a big upgrade over the walk on center who has played the last 2 games.  He did a good job of helping Utah grind out 2 games, but Utah needs a better player in there to beat better teams.  Getting Utah’s offensive line upgraded will be a big help against UCLA.

The next thing that will help the Utah Utes get more than 16 points is Utah’s stronger passing game over last year.  Yes, last week’s passing game was a total train wreck.  Nobody is denying that.  However it was a one off mess in horrible weather.  Let’s pretend that Troy Williams’ week of only completing 4 passes didn’t happen and just ignore it.  For their game against UCLA Tim Patrick is back from injury.  He played last week against Oregon State and now should be healthy for the UCLA game.  All year Troy Williams has played a lot better than Travis Wilson played last year.  Last year Travis Wilson couldn’t get the job done in the Red Zone against UCLA.  Having Tim Patrick in the Red Zone is going to be a major upgrade for the Utah Utes.

At the running back position Joe Williams will shoulder the load again.  Let’s hope that Zack Moss is back this week and can do the hard 3rd and 2 running that Joe Williams doesn’t do well.  Last year Joe Williams rushed for a lot of yards against UCLA but couldn’t punch-in in the Red Zone.

A lot of people have been talking about the Utah Utes going for it on 4th and 1 this year.  Utah has been converting at a good clip but it cost them some points last week.  I think that this week you will see Utah kick on all the 4th and 1 situations where they are in relatively comfortable field goal range.  This game promises to be a low scoring game and those extra 3 points are going to add up quickly.

The game plan for the UCLA game is to try to pass early in the game.  The weather is going to be good unlike the monsoon last week against Oregon State.  Expect the Utah Utes to try to get Troy Williams and Tim Patrick going early.  Once Utah has a decent passing game going, expect them to rely on the running game.  Expect Joe Williams to get a lot of carries.

Conclusion and prediction

Last week I was wrong on the score line of my prediction.  I didn’t factor in the bad weather but I was right that the Utah Utes would spend most of the game up by 2 scores.  This week I see a real grind it out type game.  Las Vegas thinks that Josh Rosen is close to 100% healthy and that he will lead UCLA to victory.  If he is healthy I agree with Vegas.  I don’t like to bet against NFL starting quarterbacks playing college football.  However I don’t think that he is healthy and even if he plays his injuries are going to greatly limit what he can do.  I think that Utah is going to win this game but I think that it is going to be a nasty grind with a low score.  Let’s call this 19-16 for Utah.

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Utah Utes Win a Boring Low Energy Game in a Monsoon

Well the Utah Utes survived against Oregon State.  It was a boring game and frankly it was a poor game.  But oh well, it’s another win.  Utah moved to 6-1 on the season.  No matter what happens from here, at a bare minimum the Utes are having another non-losing season.

Joe Williams runs a lot

It was a rainy day and the weather was nasty.  Joe Williams hadn’t played a down of football in over a month.  He came into the game as the Utah Utes only health running back.  He had a ton of carries and got lots of yards.  It was a great game by Joe Williams and he seemed to have lots more energy than he did in the first two games of the season.

Why couldn’t the Utah Utes pass

It was a brutal weather game.  Neither team could pass the ball at all.  Yes Troy Williams completed less than half of his passes again, but so what, he was better than all of the players who Oregon State had in the game.  No quarterback would have played well in that weather.  Also for all of Troy Williams struggles in that game, Utah was never behind and Oregon State was never in a position to win the game.  The Utah Utes spent huge chunks of the game up by 2 scores.

Conclusion

I don’t get all the criticism that Utah is getting for their performance.  It was a brutal weather game and both offenses couldn’t do much of anything.  However Utah was always ahead and never in danger of losing the game.  Utah got the job done with a skeleton cast, the week before a huge game against UCLA.  In the Pac12 all the teams are good, even Oregon State.  Pac12 football is a nasty grind.  The way most teams end up dropping games is they get wired up to play good teams and then have a let down game either the week before the big game or after the big game.  This Oregon State game was set up to be a huge trap game.  Throw in the nasty weather and this game was set up to be a big struggle.  Remember the last time that Utah had a trap game the Utah Utes lost.  Football is all about surviving and the Utes survived.

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