Who can't be elated that we beat down the cougars in the rivalry game? However let's not make too much out of it just yet. The bottom line is that a good portion of the credit for the successful beat down belongs to the heartless play (or lack of) by BYU.
What Ute fans should be most excited about is the absolute guts and determination this team has as evidenced in these last two games. This week's examples were easy to spot. DeVonte Christopher
took a beating and never quit. The blow to the head in the end zone in the 1st quarter should have been a penalty, and if that hit occurred in the NFL would have resulted in a major fine. He went on to absorb at least three other serious hits (all fair) and just kept going. Vakapuna who's had a high ankle sprain since fall camp hobbled off the field several times, but always came back to provide that big back presence that is missing on this team. Skinny Dres Anderson took a shot and came back big. John White will pound the ball as many times as you ask him. Even Jordan Wynn
took a major hit and came back to play strong. It was almost like the Utes sucked the guts out of the Cougars. As we got stronger and more confident, they imploded like the bad guys in Raiders of the Lost Arch.
There are some key takeaways for the team and coaches to continue to focus on as we move into the bulk of our PAC-12 schedule. Place kicking is still a problem. Last week that field goal could have been a game changer and did you see Coach W ask "What's Wrong With You!" on national tv when we missed the extra point last night? QB is improving but still scary. I'll also repeat what I said last week and blame Jordan Wynn for throwing poor passes that set up our outstanding receivers for hits that could otherwise be avoided. Give him credit for throwing a couple long balls last night with some accuracy, but they were still floaters and that won't cut it on a consistent basis. We need work at backup. The OL did a much better job getting some space to allow more of a running game. I'm not sure if the Cougars DL gave it 100% into the second half though. When Bergstrom went out we didn't seem to miss a beat. While our DBs aren't getting smoked, they still give up a lot of long balls which force the D to step it up in the red zone. Thankfully in 3 games our red zone performance has been stellar.
There are a lot of bright spots for the team. Defense is doing great and continuing to improve. Special teams (minus place kicking) is outstanding! OL is holding and improving. The entire group of receivers are making Wynn look much better than he really has been. Norm Chow’s play calling is on point and getting better as he continues to work with the team. Coaching across the board is some of the best in the nation.
The team as a whole has a lot to be proud of. This bye week will provide a chance to heal some injuries and work on weak spots. The future looks bright for this team and I can’t wait to get some home games and see firsthand how we do taking on the rest of our PAC-12 conference.