-Mexicali, B.C. Mexico
So here we are after another season of Utah football. What a difference a year makes. Last year expectations were realistic; new QB, most of the stars from the year before were NFL bound, and we were definitely not going to a BCS game. The lone major loss was a beating by TCU, while the other two were very winnable (BYU, Oregon). We took it to Cal in the Poinsettia Bowl, and all of a sudden Jordann Wynn looks like the next Alex Smith. We finish the season 10-3 and are feeling great about '10 with a schedule deserving of BCS National Championship consideration. We bought the hype.
Fast forward to a year later. 3 losses by a combined 101-13. No signature wins (Pitt was, but not really). We give up a winnable game in Vegas and finish the year 10-3. How do you feel about the next season this time around? I know I feel very pessimistic. Where does the blame go for this game? Suddenly Andy Ludwig is Einstein and we wish we could have him back after A-Rod continued has spontaneous and inconsistent play calling. But I think the real blame falls on the players this time. Dropped passes, fumbles, inexplicable penalties by "The best lineman in the conference."
What's next for the Utes?
First on the agenda is for the Utes to completely forget about this season. Start over. This year's Seniors gave it their all but it was not even close to what they could have accomplished. I hope they realize that and leave an impression on the younger Utes to step it up a notch for the next year. Zane Taylor did not anchor the line and keep them focused after facing adversity. Jereme Brooks never lived up the the leadership role given to him this season for the receiving corps. Justin Taplin-Ross never rose out of the shadow of the great Robert Johnson. Their contributions to the Utes are accepted with gratitute ( Winningest class in Utes history) but without much fanfare.
Second, recruiting. It was clearly evident after the TCU game that they are a step ahead of us in recruiting speed and talent. We will now face at least 7-8 teams every year that have similar luxuries. We need to keep our focus on California and Texas and not concern ourselves with Utah products unless they are Harvey Langi type prospects.
Third, should there be changes to the staff? This may be very dramatic, but at least let us consider the Offensive side. How frustrating was it to see the Utes offense ever since the Wyoming, skip Colo St, Air Force games? The schemes did not maximize the potential and talent of Shaky and Reggie Dunn. There was no healthy balance, and we kept beating the dead horse. Moreover, we panicked too quickly and abandoned the running game too often when we were down.
Fourth, open the QB race in the spring. This is a given and will be a certainty given the absence of Wynn during Spring training. Let's be realistic though, is Griff Robles a serious candidate? I have visions of Darnell Arceneaux and Lance Rice. We all know how that worked out for us. Tyler Shreve's potential remains to be seen, and who knows who else can seriously compete for the job.
What are our real expectations for next year? Last year the sky was the limit. What a difference a year makes.