Monday, November 1, 2010

Black Out - Take 2

Well who would have thunk it? Certainly not me. With all the questions on defense it was hard to try and decide what the Utes would be this year. Has the question been answered? Well....kinda.
Utah was given the scheduling luxury of learning on the fly. A team that did not know how good they were or how good they could be were given a bone by the scheduling gods and here we are, 4 days before arguably the biggest game in school history, and we still are not quite sure. There have been the comparisons to the 2004 team. That only stacks up against a comparible schedule which you can't compare. Yes the Utes are scoring at an incredible pace but they have played the cupcakes early.
So how good are they? We will find out this Saturday. If the Utes can manage to win this game all bets are off on how far they can go. TCU is a gifted well balanced team with incredible speed in all phases of the game. They are also battle tested. They have experience at all the skill positions in BCS games and that experience is something that can't be overlooked. A Utah victory Saturday would absolutely answer any questions on the strength of this team and ultimately send the Utes to a huge BCS bowl game if not the NC game.
I can't think of anything that would be sweeter than playing Alabama for a National Championship. A Utah win this weekend could possibly set that up. Of course they would need some help from Oregon and Auburn. But with Auburn having to play Alabama it is quite possible that Auburn could go down and set up a number of scenarios, one of those would be a rematch of the 2008 Sugar Bowl. Do you think that Alabama could get up for that game? Oregon is not out of the woods but they don't have the daunting task of SEC games.
As I have said in the past, Utah can play and compete in any conference in the country, other than the SEC, but I also think that Utah can get up for one game, at the end of the year, to upset an SEC team.

So let's sit back and see what happens Saturday November 6th, 2010, only the biggest game in school history....seems we have had quite a few of those lately.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Respect Will Only Come Next Year....maybe

I watched the second installment of the BCS, (B drop the C S),show last night and could not be more irritated at the level of weak conference scrutiny the MWC still gets from the "Hosts" of the big ESPN show. Actually it would be quite comical if not for the outright despise the "Hosts" continue to show for non-AQ conferences. Craig James keeps putting up TCU and Boise State on his board and says he is still showing respect to them....but for what? They don't move up on the board and teams ranked behind them continue to leap frog according to his list. He does not even show Utah on his BCS top ten picks, along with Robert Johnson. Then the big drop....Kirk Herbstreet, the unabashed Ohio State homer, slams Craig for making up reasons to lift other teams over the non-AQ teams then minutes later admits he does not have an agenda for Boise State and really flat out "does not care about Boise State or what happens to them". There is the rub, you get some love then the truth comes out.
They are just a story to grapple with and banter about but if they were in charge they would not be considered for any BCS games.

So what is to make of all of this? Not much. It is still the same old school, good old boys, TV money, rip off that it has been since the BCS was installed. But the hope is that when Utah joins the PAC-12 next year that, if they go undefeated or one loss, then the BCS will show them respect that they deserve.
Not so fast...did anybody see the way that Auburn jumped Oregon for the number one spot? Did you or anyone you know understand it?
Oregon has been dismantling teams all year. They have not scored under 43 points in any game and beat Tennessee, (an SEC team), Stanford, and Arizona State convincingly. They hung 60 on UCLA, the same UCLA that whipped up on Texas.
Auburn barely beat teams like Miss. State, Clemson (OT), and Kentucky. Yes they have beaten LSU, Arkansas, and South Carolina but here is what the BCS is saying, that those teams are better than Oregon's competition, visa vie the leap frog to number one. That, at it's core, is an assumption based on old school home cookin. Period! How do they know? The computers are supposed to give that stat a one twenty fifth score behind the human polls which have Oregon ranked higher.

So there you have it, don't count on Utah getting all of the love if they make this same run in the PAC-12. As long as the BCS is in charge, most schools east of Denver and south of Oklahoma will get the nod before the western teams will. Unless Utah turns into USC. The only problem with that is that Salt Lake is not L.A. and does not have the same TV market.   BOOM!! Now you know what drives the BCS.

That is your lesson for the day.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Sports Radio Callers....whaaaa?

Been listening to sports radio shows and have been amused by the calls about Utah and the jump to the Pac-10. How it will effect the team and future opponents. As the calls come in I hear that Utah is going to be more dominant with better recruits and more money to shore up the facilities that are far behind other PAC-10 schools. I hear that Utah will be creating a gap in strength among their current MWC brethren and specifically BYU. The move to drop Boise State is due to the already difficult schedule on the Utes plate after the jump.

But I think that the callers need to rethink the their reasoning.

If the callers really believe Utah is a top ten program then they are in the belief that Utah can play an SEC, Big 12, or PAC-10 schedule and fare the same as the 5-0 start contends. Yet they believe that Utah will get better after the move to the Pac-10. If the team is top ten much better can they get? The callers theory is they can handle the best of the best right now. So if they are that good, why the need to move to another conference other than money?
Now I am being a bit condescending but the fact remains that Utah in it's current form could not contend week in and week out in the SEC. I think they could hold their own in any other conference in the country.
But now Utah is falling in line with the BCS powers they have been bashing for the past decade. Dropping Boise State only shows that Utah is going to do what all the other AQ teams do, schedule cupcakes because their schedule in the PAC-12 is going to be difficult enough without playing the Boise States of the future. And the callers on the radio show stating that they are top ten right now but after the conference jump they are going to make this huge progression is just silly, if they are now what the callers consider a top ten team.

Utah is a team that can play with anybody, but it has been the recruiting and coaching of those recruits that has turned Utah into the team that it is. Better talent could make them an even better team, but I kind of like the Utah team that coaches up talent rather than being considered great due to a bunch of 5 star divas that don't go all in.

Coach Whitt keep doing what you are doing...that philosophy is working just fine!

Monday, October 11, 2010

A Quiet 5-0 is Just Fine

To say that it was surprising what Utah did to Iowa State would be a huge understatement. Considering Utah spotted them 14 points and proceeded to dismantle them on offense was astonishing to put it mildly. I assumed a Big 12 team of any caliber would be able to put up a fight but Saturday night Utah seemed to have the better coaching, athletes, and attitude.
BIG 12? Really? How does this arrogant conference still manage to keep their nose in the air? Iowa State plays Oklahoma this week and if it is televised I suggest every Ute fan watch to see how the Sooners play against ISU. This should give you some gauge as to what kind of team Utah really has.

If the Sooners struggle but win by a ten points or less, Utah has a special team.

If they blow out ISU, you are still wondering how strong the Utah team is.

If the Sooners lose...Utah could run the table and have a shot at the national title game.

You may think that I am a homer and may be putting to much credence into the Utah win, but consider what Coach Whittingham has been saying since he took over as head coach, "You don't know what kind of team you have until six weeks into the season", well here we are going into week six and if Saturday night was any indication, Utah has a damn fine team.
Read what the ISU head coach thinks about Utah:
Cyclone Football: No.10 Utah Blasts Iowa State 68-27

The TCU game is building up to be a battle of unbeatens on November 6, and I would expect The College Game Day crew to be on hand if that is the case.

I have freed up some time to start blogging daily. After I started a new gig I was not sure how much time I would have to continue but I have settled in and want to get back at it.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Back to Work

My schedule just got extremely busy so I have not paid attention to this blog like I should have. I will try and keep posting everyday, but with my new schedule I may miss a day here or there. Please keep visiting and commenting.

By the way....the USA Today Coaches Poll came out today:
Utah tied for 24th with West Virginia
Boise State - 5th
TCU - 7th

Pitt, the Utes September 2nd opponent is ranked 15th. If the Utes pull off the upset, it would mean a huge jump in the polls. How cool is that!!! Talking about moving up in the polls in August!

No BYU....kind of surprising really.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Former Utes And Start of NFL Camps

The Utes begin camp Thursday and the only news lately is the fact Coach Whitt will not be talking about move to the PAC-10 for the remainder of this season. OK, fair enough. So we will have to wait for camp to begin analyzing happenings on the Utah front.

Things are different for former Utes playing in the NFL. Camps are in full swing so lets take a look at a few players and what the outlook is for their upcoming seasons.

Alex Smith
Having been through an astounding measure of up and downs, 2010 holds promise for the former #1 pick of the 49ers. No QB competition here, he is the starter and should have a solid grasp of the offense for the first time in his NFL career. He also has been handed the keys to an array of weapons at his disposal. WR Micahel Crabtree, TE Vernon Davis, and RB Frank Gore give Smith options he has not had in the past. They have upgraded on the offensive line with two first round draft picks at taclke and gaurd.
This is Smith's make or break season, and with all of the BS that he has dealt with, you would have to be a cold hearted goon not to be pulling for him. My guess, 3800 yards, 28 touchdowns, with 8 picks. That should hand the 49ers an NFC title, the first trip to the playoffs since 2002 and a Pro Bowl nod. Not too shabby.

Paul Kruger
Having limited playing time in his rookie season for the Ravens Kruger has bulked up to 273 lbs to try and match up better against bigger offensive lineman in the NFL. He plays behind perennial pro bowl DE Terrel Suggs so minutes are hard to come by. He also does not play on special teams, (my guess is Kruger has good burst of speed but not sustainable speed needed to run down the field on kick off or punt returns.)
Kruger gained the extra weight as requested by Ravens coaches hoping to get more plays and prove that he was worth a second round pick. Here is the outlook for him from a Baltimore football site. Good input.
#99 Paul Kruger

Eric Weddle
AJ Smith, GM for the Chargers, traded a bunch of draft picks to move up and get Weddle in the 2007 NFL draft. Although it is hard to determine whether or not San Diego feels the move paid off, it sure looks like he has a lock on the safety position for this season. Consistent seems to be the word coming out of San Diego when asked about Weddle. He is not flashy, but gets the job done. If he has a steady season I can see the Chargers trying to sign him to a new deal, (he is in the final year of a 4 year $4.165 million contract), even though some critics claim he has not played up to the price they paid to get him.

Koa Misi
From everything that I have read coming out of Dolphins camp, Koa Misi is the real deal and could be starting immediately, very rare for a rookie defensive lineman. Coaches are impressed with his work ethic and attitude. While playing for the Utes in his junior year, Misi seemed to be playing under the radar, but his senior season he showed strength and speed required at the next level. His commitment to hard work seems to be paying off and check out what some people are saying about him.
Koa Misi Report

To try and be fair and balanced to my BYU Cougar buddies here are a few news items. Jon Beck has been traded to the Redskins from the Ravens. That makes him the fourth QB on Washington's roster.
Dennis Pitta, after dropping a few passes in shells the first day of camp, has impressed since. Coaches are raving about his route running and great hands. OK enough of that.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Coincidence.....I Think Not!

Terence Cody At Combine Weigh In.
Terence (Mount) Cody failed his conditioning test as a rookie for the Baltimore Ravens. Listed at 6'6" 350 lbs. it is understandable that he is not the most cut player on the team, but for a second round pick, you would think that he would put in the effort to be in better shape coming into camp.
Andre Smith 40 Yard Dash
What I find interesting is that Andre Smith OT for the Bengals had similar issues coming into camp his rookie year (2009), albeit later due to contract negotiations. Smith missed all but one week of camp and then hurt is foot the second day he was there and missed 10 games of the season. He also missed OTA's this spring with follow up surgery on his broken foot.
So there you have it, two huge men who have come from SEC powerhouse Alabama under Nick Saban falling on there face once they have signed their millionaire contracts. Smiths contract - $42 million with $21 million guaranteed. Cody's contract - $3.385 million with $1.5 million guaranteed. Now I don't know about you but if it was up to me, I think that I would do whatever I had to do to justify an NFL team investing that kind of cash on my ass. But that's just me.

The thing that I question is the character of these kids and how did they ever get through college? From what I have seen of them is they worked their butts off playing college football, signed their deals, and now they can sit back and do the bare minimum to make earn their money on the highest level letting owners, fans, and fellow players down in the process.
You are probably wondering why I would waste my time on such a topic......well..... it still stems from the 2008 Sugar Bowl and the cocky arrogance of Saban and Alabama players. Every time I get an opportunity to knock Saban or one of the Alabama players I take full advantage of it. Remember LB Antoine Caldwell telling Stevenson Sylvester that he was going to kill him? Check it out.
Caldwell threatening Utes after coin toss

Monday, July 26, 2010

2010 MWC Season Projections

Apologies, apologies, apologies. I have not posted a blog for about a week and for that I am sorry. The news during the middle of July is very slow, coming up with content has been rough. I decided quality vs. quantity. (If you consider any of my rambling posts anything close to quality is purely subjective).

MWC media days begin in Vegas Tuesday which starts off the 2010 college football season. This is great news because we will get the media pre-season poll for the MWC and thus opening up discussion and arguments as to whether or not your team deserves it's position in the rankings. Since this is Monday and the polls have not been released I will give you my projections for the conference title.
I am not going into detail on each team because I will be breaking down each game the Ute's play and will go more in depth on the teams at that time.

2010 Mountain West Football Projected Finish

1. TCU - The returning starters on a high scoring offense gives TCU the nod...but not by much

2. Utah - Anything could happen, but Utah would have to play a perfect game to slow down TCU even  with the game at home. There are to many questions on defense to stop the them let alone out score them.

3. Air Force - The Falcons have been trying to break into the big three for quite awhile. This is the year.

4. BYU - The offense will be a work in progress. I don't care how talented Heaps is as a freshman QB there  is still a huge learning curve from high school to college....sorry Coug fans...better luck in 2011.

5. Wyoming - Austyn Carta-Samuels is the real deal and with stability at QB, the offense could surprise a few teams.

6. Colorado State - Coach Fairchild's team is on a nine game losing streak.

7. San Diego State - Perennial under achievers. I don't understand it considering the fruitful recruiting grounds in So Cal. How long has QB Lindley been playing for the Aztecs???

8. UNLV - Sorry Rebels once again you just do not have the horses to compete.

9. New Mexico - Not sold on the coaching staff and that is a shame, I think New Mexico actually has some talented players. Too bad Elizabeth Lambert got booted off the girls soccer team, as mean as she is, she could probably start.
Elizabeth Lambert from New Mexico's women's
soccer team abusing a BYU player.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Pitt Panther Preview - First Game 2010 Season

Pitt shows up September 2, at Rice-Eccles in arguably one of the biggest games of the opening weekend of college football. As I checked in on message boards and media speculation on the game it is apparent that Pitt and their fans are nervous about the non-conference opener.

Pitt is starting a sophomore QB in Tino Sunseri. If you are not familiar with the name don't feel bad, he has never started a game and has seen only mop-up duty in 2009 piling up 114 total yards on 10 for 17 passing with two touchdowns. Head Coach Dave Wannstedt is giving Sunseri the nod over Pat Bostick who redshirted last year. Starting your first college game ever, on the road, across the country, should be enough to rattle the young QB into a few miscues. Advantage - Utes.

The offensive line for the Panthers is also in flux. With two returning tackles they should be consistent on the edge, but they do have questions at center, gaurd, and tight end. With the tendency for the Utes to blitz inexperienced O-lines, Sunseri may have to get used too a bunch of red in his grill. Unless Pitt can show that they can stop the pressure on the QB, or open some running lanes for a pair of talented backs, they could be in for a long day, which is what I predict. Advantage - Utes.

Pitt will lean heavily on breakout freshman Dion Lewis who accumulated 1,799 yards on 325 carries. That is a butt load of carries and I would be surprised to see Wannstedt expect that number of carries this season. Lewis is backed up by a very talented Ray Grahm, who many thought would transfer in and effort to be a premier back. But with the changes in the offensive line and tight end, the yards will be hard to come by with Utah's front, but the Utes have also had a hard time containing small versatile backs. With the questions at linebacker for Utah, this could cause some concern especially if they get into the secondary. Advantage - Even.

At 6' 5", 225 pound wide out Jonathan Baldwin is going to be a handful for any secondary, but he could be a nightmare for the unproven defensive secondary of the Utes. His sub 4.4 speed and 42" vertical leap could spell trouble for Utah's speedy but smaller corners and safeties. If the Pitt O-line can give Sunseri time to throw the ball, Baldwin could have a HUGE day. Advantage - Pitt.

For a defense that ranked 29th nationally in 2009, expectations are high for a stellar returning group. That being said, DE Jabaal Sheard was suspended indefinitely for an undisclosed incident last weekend and will likely miss at least the Utah game. His loss takes the teeth out of a Pitt defensive front that would have been considered one of the best in the nation. They are stll returning DE Greg Romeus, LB's Greg Williams and Max Gruder with Tristan Williams pressing for playing time, and should present Utah with a formidable challenge. But Utah's spread offense and the fact they are on the road will pose problems for the young defense. The secondary returns one starter in safety Dom DeCicco who was the teams second leading tackler last season. Look for Utah to expose that inexperience and the loss of Sheard. Advantage - Utes.

Special teams return place kicker Dan Hutchins who was 23 for 29 in '09. He also converted on 46 of 48 extra point attempts. Both kick and punt returners will be back this season. Hutchins kicked two game winning field goals last year against UConn in October and once again in the Meineke Car Care Bowl against North Carolina. With Utah returning both kickers and experience in the return game it is difficult to pick a favorite for special teams. With the game being played at Rice-Eccles and this being the first game of the year. I give Advantage - Utes for that reason alone.

It is tough to predict what kind of team you have early in the season. Kyle Whittingham had always stated that they should not even do a top 25 poll until the 5th or 6th game because nobody really knows what they have until about that time. These two teams match up pretty well against each other but as noted above Utah has the upper hand with stability at QB, RB, Offensive Line, and overall defense. Add home field and Utah wins it's season opener against the Pitt Panthers 27-10.

Pittsburg Panthers have not been to a BCS game since 2004. Remember that one?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

How Far They Have Come

As we get prepared for the upcoming season, (August 5th fall practice begins), I have been searching the web for significant info on the Utes. Although there is quite a bit of information, nothing really jumps out at you. I did happen upon the release of season tickets for the 2010 campaign and was amazed that the system that the university set up to sell these tickets was overloaded and could not handle all of the requests.
To be fair the school did not inform the public that it was only releasing 1000 tickets and they probably should have, but I would rather look at this from a more positive view, which is the demand for these tickets.

In 2001 the average attendance for RES was 34,458. In 2009 the stadium averaged 45,155. Of course the spike in attendance coincided with the success of the team during the past decade but I wonder how many seats the Utes could sell. With the PAC-10 inclusion coming next year, I think that they could presumably sell into the 60 to 65,000 seat range without worry. I don't know that RES could handle that kind of addition but I would think that when the new stadium was built (1997-98), the architects had to consider potential expansion as a part of the design. Chris Hill Utah's AD is on record stating that potential expansion is coming but capacity, as far as I know, has not been announced.

Stadium capacity in the PAC-10 is quite varied. USC and UCLA have venues that handle 92,000 and 91,136 respectively. Cal, Arizona State, and Washington all boast over 70,000 with the smallest stadium being Washington State at 35,117. If Utah was to expand 65,000 we would be the fifth largest stadium in the PAC-10. Colorado's stadium holds 53,570.

I guess my point is that University of Utah football has come a long ways since 2000. The 2004 team seemed to be an anomaly. But the success that Coach Whit has brought to the table lifted the program to heights unimaginable just ten short years ago. With PAC-10 membership looming, success could be taken to another level completely.
Can you say National Championship! Not only is it is probable.

                                           Cummings Stadium 1884-1926

Ute Stadium 1927-1971

Rice Stadium 1972-1997

Rice-Eccles Stadium 1998-Present