Another week and another bad opponent on Utah's schedule (this must be how the Boise St. Broncos feel when they've played their one big out of conference game). I'm going to lapse into a diabetic coma after all the cupcakes we've absorbed over the last few weeks.
In fact, after watching the Pittsburgh Panthers get embarrassed in their Thursday night game against the Miami Hurricanes, I'm actually itching for a decent opponent. It'd at least give us an idea of how good these Utes are because I'm not so sure Pittsburgh told us anything. The Panthers looked awful in their loss and will most certainly not provide Utah a signature win like many of us had hoped after the overtime victory.
But that won't come this week. Oh well. There are things we can take from this game, however.
How will Jordan Wynn look?
We still don't know if Wynn will start Saturday, but it does look like he's going to see some action. Will he step into the role and play at the level we've seen from Terrance Cain the last two weeks?
I don't expect Wynn to look flawless. It is difficult when you've missed two weeks due to injury. But this is not a good opponent and a pretty bad defense the Utes are going up against. He should not struggle. Not against a San Jose St. Spartans team that had to come from behind to beat Southern Utah University last week.
With that said, do you think Wynn feels the pressure knowing Cain produced two solid performances in his absence? Hopefully if he doesn't look entirely impressive, fans and coaches don't panic.
The last thing we need is a situation like the one they faced down in Provo during the first three weeks of the season (one that quickly ended when RIley Nelson suffered a season ending injury in the Cougars' loss to Florida State).
Will Utah actually produce in the first quarter?
The Utes have been pretty average in the first quarter this season. In all three games, they've scored a combined 10 points. That won't cut it against better competition. Not when you're trying to set the tone against a good team.
What I'd like to see Saturday is a first quarter where the Utes' offense doesn't just slumber around the football field. We've seen that for three weeks now and it's time to really start getting into gear. Believe it or not, after Saturday's game, Utah will only be two games from the midway point of the season. I don't expect everything to be perfect by then, but they've got to really start positioning themselves for the more difficult stretch of the schedule and that starts by taking advantage of these types of games against poorer opponents.
Will Utah establish a running game?
If there was a weakness in Utah's game last Saturday against the Lobos, it was their run game. They weren't awful, but both Matt Asiata and Eddie Wide struggled at sustaining any type of ground game for the Utes.
In fact, Utah's top rushers against New Mexico were backups Griff Robles and Tauni Vakapuna. They both gained most their yards on one single play.
Asiata finished the night with 32 and Wide only 25.
I'd like to see a more consistent run game Saturday. Especially when you consider Asiata had 95 yards on 20 carries in last year's win over the Spartans.
If the Utes are going to be a dynamic offensive team, they'll need to balance the running & passing games better than they currently are doing. Right now, Utah is ranked 7th in the conference in rushes and fifth, slightly behind BYU, in total yards.
That will need to improve.
How will Utah defend the pistol?
The Spartans likes to run the pistol offense, which, even today, is rather unconventional. It's an offense that is commonly associated with the Nevada WolfPack and they've seen great success this season employing it.
But San Jose State is not Nevada. Just like every offense, you've got to have the tools necessary to run it. They don't - not yet anyway.
Of course, the Utes don't face this style much and because of that, it could be tricky to defend.
Will Utah fix its turnover problems?
Last week, I asked if Utah would fix its special teams mistakes. They did. It was the focus of practice and the team came out and had its best special teams performance I've seen in the Kyle Whittingham era.
Now the coaches have said their attention this week is on turnovers. They didn't kill the Utes against New Mexico, but four fumbles (three that were lost) will kill Utah against a better team.
So far this season, the Utes have had seven offensive turnovers. True, three of that came last week, but that number is still unacceptable.
Hopefully this week the team sees the same type of progress there as they did with the special teams (also, it'd be nice if the special team gains weren't just for last week and are sustained throughout the season).