Utah 27 – 28 Washington State
27 Saturday Sep 2014
No tags :(
Kyle Whittingham is in the hot seat this year. Utah hadn’t played anyone of note yet. No, this year Michigan is not a team “of note.” For that matter, Washington State, coming in with a 1 – 3 record, was hardly considered a team of note either. That is what makes this loss so hard to swallow.
Giving up a 21 point lead at home to a 1 – 3 team is tough to swallow for the Utah fans. As fans, we expected this win. We expected to finally crack the top #25 with a 4-0 record for the first time in years. Instead, our Utes are 3-1 and the season is in serious jeopardy. Why? Because a loss like this suggests that the Utes will lose to the rest of the PAC12 teams, too. Washington State was second to last in the PAC12 North division last year. Four of Utah’s eight remaining games are against ranked opponents. If they can’t beat the lower unranked PAC12 opponents, how can they beat the ranked ones?
The big question this season will be can the offense score against a good defense. The Ute O looked great against other teams this year, but lets face it, they were very bad teams.
The offense can’t claim 20 of the 27 points either. Special teams had 7 points with a punt return and the Defense scored 13 points: 1) a pick six, 2) an interception and a 3) a fumble recovery. Both the interception and fumble recovery were in WSU territory, but the the offense squandered both into field goals.
A single offensive running play broke for 70+ yards in the 1st quarter for 7. That is the only score the offense can claim they earned without aid of the Defense. The Utes only had one other drive of note. A twelve play 57 yard drive in 4 minutes that resulted in a missed field goal.
If Utah could have had one single long five minute scoring drive, they could have put this game away. But the offense couldn’t do it. Was it the players? Or was it the plays? Travis Wilson was 18-40 passing. Were the pass plays too hard or did the QB and Receivers just play poorly?
Even against Michigan the offensive was not good. The Utes scored 26, but 7 were from a punt return. The Utes also settled for a punt and three field goals attempts, missing one, on 4 Wolverine turnovers. Great offenses score touchdowns on turnovers, even against good teams.
Against the WSU Cougars, the Utes were averaging 4.8 yards per rush. Maybe the Utes would have been better off without trying to pass. Remember incomplete passes stop the clock. When you are up by 17, you don’t want to stop the clock! The pass just wasn’t working well. Even the Utes fumble came on a pass play–a 1st down play with the lead and the need to run out the clock. WSU’s last score came with 6 minutes left in the 4th. The Ute coaches needed to run the ball more in the 2nd half. They started out the half with 4 straight runs that were moving the chains but then they settled for passing plays to end the drive.
Get under center and get creative with the run. Use long runs to the boundary to tire the defense. Switch it up with options and counters. Pound the ball up the middle. Create 3rd and short more often. Eat away the clock. Limit the opposing teams possessions in the second half. Break a big run on the tired defense. Win the game!