Utah Football


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    • #117042
      21 1

      Pace Manyung
      Ute Fan
      @a2ute

      So I’ve yet to comment on the championship game and wanted to let the emotions settle before I try to make sense of Utah football.

      First, let’s get this out of the way before I start getting the downvote waterfall;  Utah Football is a real program, a tough, hard-hitting program. Many programs struggle to find an identity (Purdue, Ill, Rutgers ect..) but I as a Ute fan know what I’m getting – win or lose.

      Like many Ute fans I’ve hesitated on buying into the improvement we witnessed throughout the season – The TCU blow out a few years ago left lasting scars and embarrassment. But after the Washington game in which Utah played like a confident unit and then again when they completely dismantled AZ St….I took the bait.  I bought into the idea that Utah had taken the next step – that the Utes where a program that can FINALLY hang with anyone and could take on the position of being the “hunted” team and not just the little underdog.  I drank the cool aid and asked for seconds.

      Three minutes into the Championship game that same, well-worn reality started creeping back into my bones.  What I was witnessing was very familiar.  The lack of preparedness and the lack of athletes (compared to UR) was once again on display under the glair of the national lights.  That scars of TCU were omnipresent.

      Funny thing is, I wasn’t upset. I didn’t yell, kick the dog or drink heavier than I usually do. I watched with a stone-faced objective demeanor – and realized there is a lot of work to be done to get to the level we (I) thought we were at.   

      Utah got beat by a superior team that were motivated. Utah almost always will lose this type of game.  I think we as Ute fans need to understand that taking the “next step” requires the Utes to move from being the hunter to being the hunted.  Until Utah makes huge strides in recruiting superior athletes that bleed into the two-deep, the program will always hang along the borderline of good but not great.

      Do not think Utah is closer to getting to the Rose Bowl – they are exactly in the same place they’ve been for several years. Major changes in recruiting need to be DEMANDED by this coaching staff. Do not equate kwhitt developing players equals getting to the Rose Bowl… it does not.  Utah will need to consistently be a  top 4 or 5 PAC12 recruiting class for the Utes to get to and win a Rose Bowl.  Back to reality.   

       

       

    • #117045
      4

      Utah5410
      Ute Fan
      @utah5410

      80 percent of the stuff you post I do not agree with. However, I do agree with the majority of this post. I dont agree that Utah MUST be in the tops of recruiting each year because of the player development. Part of the reason you love Utah’s toughness etc is because of the players they bring in. To be blunt many of the 4/5 star kids now days are cottled pansy a**es. That being said, we do need more of these 4/5 star kids WITH the right attitude like how Washington does it. Those kids are tough, bought in and most are highly recruited.

      What I DO 100 Percent agree you on is the hunted v hunter. KW WHO I LOVE, has made his career on being the under dog. This philiosphy works most of the time. Where Whitt has struggled is when he is facing a more/equally talented team who is being told how great Utah is. In these games I dont know what happens. Look at last year, Washington was amazing. Thry had NFL guys everywhere, a four year staring QB, all team leading rusher etc. etc. We had Armand Shyne ( who did nothing) and Jason Freaking Shelly. Yet it took the most flookish play I have ever seen and a terrible missed P.I. to beat Utah 10-3. Fast forward to this year, before Utah knew what hit them they were down 20-0.
      I dont know how this can be fixed. While Whit has shown me everything to this point. The one thing he hasnt shown me is how to get his team ready WHILE HAS THE FAVORITE v an equal or greater team on the biggest stage. I will reamin pessemistic until he proves this.

      That being said. Love Whit and Go Utes.

      • #117047
        4

        Pace Manyung
        Ute Fan
        @a2ute

        Have you noticed a lot of Ute fans shy away from high praise from the media.  I don’t think it’s because Ute fans are simply humble. I think it’s because we’re unsure of just how talented the team is.  Kwitt has made his living on sneaking up on better programs.  To take the next step Utah needs to be the team circled on the schedule, the team that other programs game plan for in summer camp.  To do that they need a big upgrade in talent.

    • #117046
      3 1

      AgouraUte
      Ute Fan
      @agouraute

      I agree with your post – Oregon has better athletes and we need them to from our end to compete. We have yet to perform on the big stage when we are favored. I told my wife all week that there was a very good chance we could lay a goose egg given prior performance.

      We are making progress. 5 years ago, did you think we would be talking about a 11-2 season as a failure?
      We should have the highest rated recruiting class from an avg player rating perspective ever when you factor in transfers. Small class size will hurt us in overall rankings, but we only have 17-18 spots.

      Here is the good news. We have two 4 star QB’s that will be vying for the starting spot next year. Not a bad problem to have. Very likely we land three 4 star in state recruits from Utah.

      Surprisingly, I think our offense may be our strong point next year.
      Season 2 of Ludwig steering the ship and we have the following

      QB – Rising and Bentley, Shelley if he stays
      RB – DHC, Wilmore, Brumfield, Green, Bernard and two freshman
      TE – Fotheringham, Kiethe and Yasmin
      WR – Covey, Dixon, Enis, Nacua, Vele, Thompson
      OL – 4 returning starters plus Maea, Bills and Bam who all had reps this year

      • #117054
        4

        utefansince79
        Ute Fan
        @utefansince79

        Somewhat agree with Pace.  We’re obviously well behind Oregon in athletism, but I do feel we’re ahead of where we were a few years ago and are miles ahead of we entered the conference. Takes some time to close the gap.

         

         

         

         

      • #117067
        4

        Pace Manyung
        Ute Fan
        @a2ute

        This transfer thing bugs me.  Don’t get me wrong the QB’s at one point in their career were thought of as 4 star talent – the fact that they’re transferring might indicate that they are not. 

        I just don’t like to rely on players that other programs let go. I get it, sometimes it just wasn’t a good fit blah blah blah..

        What I want to see is Utah sign 4 star QB’s every year and let go of the ones that don’t work out. Relying on other programs transfers should not be the business model for success.   

        • #117078
          5

          EutawStreet
          Ute Fan
          @eutawstreet

          Really?  3 of the 4 qbs in this years playoff are transfers.  Joe Burrow, Jalen Hurts and Justin Fields. One will win the Heisman.  Remember Kyler Murray, Baker Mayfield, Russell Wilson or Gardner Minshew?  All transfers.  Jake Bentley threw for 510 yards and 5 tds against Clemson last season.  Great pick-up by Ludwig.  Rising has zero starts in his career, now we have Bentley who has 32. 

    • #117053
      6

      Charlie
      Ute Fan
      @charlie

      I watched a different game. I actually saw two quite similar teams playing. Oregon was able to string together some scoring drives while Utah got stopped. Still I give Oregon credit for a great plan for run blitzing / pass rush as well as great zone blocking on offense. Utah was able to move the ball but the lack of a kicker resulted in getting stopped in several drives that in years past would have been 3 points and maintained momentum. Sadly, Blackmon, who had made several great plays earlier got hurt and his loss was much greater than I expected. At least 3 long TD plays by Oregon were directly related to the Free being out of position – all plays that are very uncommon to the Utah defense (understanding of Utah’s man defense provides the answer) On the other hand, Oregon could have easily lost their defensive MVP, #25 , on a targeting call that was not confirmed for some reason. The loss of these two players, if reversed, would have completely flipped the game.

      Huntley threw a bad pass into the end zone, Hubert thru two bad passes into the end zone as well, one of which was much much worse then the others. Sadly, Huntley was picked off and Hubert was lucky not better and without an interception. After the score was cut to 8 points, Oregon was able to move the tipping point in their favor, but then again, no Blackmon.

      The small difference makers wiithin the game did result in huge chunk plays and score differences. If you have never worked with a football team, you might not know how easy it is to be so very close with a big difference in score. If you just look at the box score in the paper, the Utah loss can appear quite significant.

      Getting to the top of the Pac is quite difficult for any team. As the FNG, Utah’s degree of difficulty is more than the others. I could not disagree more, Utah is no where near what we were coming into the league. Whitt has done very well getting us to where we are, which was a thin line of difference on getting to the goal of a Rose Bowl. Thankfully, folks that know alot about football confirm to me that we have made great progress.

      • #117081
        2

        Stone
        Ute Fan
        @stone

        Great post. Utah got beat. But Utah is not outclassed by any school in the conference… and the team has proven that on the field. Two years in a row in the Pac12 Championship is incredible. Of course we all want more, but let’s keep perspective. This is a fantastic program that is ASCENDING under Whitt.

    • #117066
      2 1

      Charlie Foxtrot
      Ute Fan
      @charliefoxtrot

      So I watched the championship pregame show on the PAC 12 network prior to the kickoff on ABC.  Part of the discussion between the different personalities was “if I were Oregon I would attack the Utes defense like this…”  without going into details, part of the equation was to soften up the run defense by running Herbert which is exactly what Oregon did and it was something that they hadn’t shown offensively all year.

      During the game I thought to myself, howcome Oregon with a weeks worth of preperation can show up with an offensive game plan that they haven’t used all year and successfully exploit the Utah defense?  If these on air personalities (who have coaching experience) can predict and Oregon game plan that would have the best chance of exploiting the Utes defense, why can’t the Utah coaching staff predict some of this stuff and have defensive adjustments ready to go if they start doing it?  On the flip side of the coin, how come the Ute offense couldn’t line up and start running some plays that the Oregon D haden’t seen from the Utes all year?  Shouldn’t Utah and it’s coaching staff be able to play the same game?

      I am hoping that with Ludwig in place for the long term (fingers crossed) that future Utah teams will be able to do similar things to what we saw from Oregon in that championship game.  I think there is a talent gap between Utah and Oregon, but in hindsight I think the main issue with that game is that Oregon was prepared with a game plan that would take Utah out of what it wanted to do both offensively and defensively, and Utah’s game plan was simply not up to snuff.  Whether it was a problem in the X’s and O’s or if it was an issue of preparing the team to play as the favorite with the right mindset I don’t know, but I do think the issues Utah had in that game rest on the shoulders of the coaching staff.  I sincerely hope that coaches can objectively take a look at the 2nd half of the Northwestern bowl game, the USC and Oregon games and examine why the wheels came off and figure out how to do things differently in similar situations in the future.

    • #117070
      1

      Charlie
      Ute Fan
      @charlie

      I can only imagine that Utah and Oregon started thinking about each other a couple of weeks out but still had games to win. It is interesting that Utah did not lose focus with the 3 favored games they had leading up but Oregon did. Like our game with USC it may have been a wake up call.
      On defense, Utah most often starts out conservative with a base defense. I have found myself impatiently waiting while Scalley watches and slowly turns the screws and ends up suffocating the other team. For whatever reason, the plan is one of react to what he is seeing rather than acting first. But how can you argue with the success. In the championship game the process was interrupted by Blackmon going out, followed by more failure from the safeties that I would have ever imagined. Still, I am sure with Blackmon our defense would have matched the Oregon offense much better.

      As to the QB scrambling when not choosing to pass, the Utah defense has allowed this in the beginning of games much more than I like. Even the Y did this early in the game. Oddly, that has not so much been the case at all as the game progresses. The first qtr scrambles were agonizing to watch again.
      As an old OL coach, I expect that Oregon was able to see something to encourage them to use the zone blocking like they did. I did not notice that so much in other Oregon games I have watched. What surprised me was how effective they were blocking Utah M2M. I saw Fotu stopped by a single blocker in this game more than the other 12 games combined.

      Momentum is a strange animal that has bit us before. Colorado started out well, even better that the Oregon start, but we were much more effective in flipping the game with Colorado than with Oregon. I don’t know if the answer lies in a Utah deficiency, a Oregon game plan, or simply on occasion it gets away from us. Still, I am not sure we have more strange losses than any other Pac team.

    • #117071
      1

      Charlie
      Ute Fan
      @charlie

      A transfer QB is a bit of a risky thing. However, LSU seems to be doing quite well with their transfer QB that Ohio State told would never play…

      I would hate to put all my hope in a transfer, but I don’t mind throwing one into a mix to see if they beat out the favorite.

    • #117072
      1

      Red
      Ute Fan
      @red1

      So how do the coaches land the 4/5 star guys?  What changes to encourage these guys to pick Utah?

      Especially the instate guys: Jay Tufele, Puka, the Sewell brothers (those two should be Utes – why didn’t the coaches seal the deal when Nephi was a senior in HS? That one still stings).

      The out of state players are more difficult, but the defensive guys who should naturally be inclined to pay for a perenial top 15 defense.

      I think of Eno Benjamin, Jayden Daniels, Talanoa Hufanga, etc – they all seemed on the brink of coming to Utah – how can the coaches close the deal? 

      I thought Jack Tuttle would be a huge difference maker by the way he recruited and used social media – maybe more recruit involvment?  

      Fans can’t recruit per the NCAA, and technically aren’t even allowed to respond to twitter posts, but perhaps mass likes and retweets?  An inundation of free/inexpensive Ute gear to the Utah highschools? Plaster “Family on 3” and “SafetyPride” everywhere?

       

      • #117111

        noneyadb
        Ute Fan
        @noneyadb

        Utah has to improve it’s image of being the “Cool” school. Unfortunately the fanbase and state will more often than not prevent that. 100k seat stadium vs 45k will always hold the school back.

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