QB Travis Wilson throws a pass in a 34-15 loss against Washington, Nov. 10, 2012 -- USA Today
What's going on everybody? I have been a reader of this blog for a long time, and now I have finally decided to make an account to join in on the debates and conversations. So naturally I thought I would just hop right in with a fanpost! (Be nice please, it's my first time)
I have been having this recurring conversation with many of my friends about the outcome of the upcoming season. Being born and raised a die hard Utes fan and loving the team above all others, I ALWAYS see the most positive situation first. Seeing as that an undefeated season and national championship is just a hair out of reach this year, I guess I must make it a little more realistic.
I want to start out by saying that as you read through the post that this situation is all based on a 100% healthy season. This means nothing like K. Scott, Jake Murphy, or Travis Wilson last year. Yes that is unlikely, but still possible. So without further ado, here is the "Hopeless Optimist's Guide to the 2014 Football Season"
8/28 - Idaho State University
OK we all know how this one SHOULD end up. I could definitely see this game turning out like the 2011 Montana State game, as we watch the team shake off the rust of "practice pace" and figure out playing together. . It'll be a win but wouldn't be surprised to see it close at first. Let's just keep our composure and remember that it's the first game of the year. LB Gionni Paul shows no signs of lingering pain from a broken foot in his Utes debut, leading the team in tackles with a sack. FINAL OUTCOME: WIN
9/6 - Fresno State University
Here's where a select few of my friends decide to give the Utes loss number 1. But the Hopeless Optimist says nay! The departure of Carr and multiple O-Lineman are HUGE losses but as we've seen, passing offenses match up well against the Utes. My thought is that the ISU game prepped the guys well, gelling on offense to outscore Fresno State by 2+ scores, while the defense gets good pressure on the QB from Orchard and Norris to disrupt the passing game. FINAL OUTCOME: WIN
9/13 - BYE
9/20 - @ University of Michigan
First big test of the year for the Utes. Name vs. name obviously puts the win to Michigan, but after watching them end last season, especially in their bowl game against a mobile QB in Waters at KSU, I firmly believe the Utes can take this one. TW gets it done through the air, and transfer Kendal Thompson sees PT in a special package that produces a couple big plays. Coming in with confidence, Michigan coming two weeks off a likely loss to rival Notre Dame, and Whitt's past experience winning in the Big House is a recipe for a (close) win to advance to 3-0. FINAL OUTCOME: WIN
9/27 - Washington State University
REDEMPTION. The Utes gotta have an animalistic mindset going into this game, and they need to come out firing. Confidence even higher after a big win at Michigan, Travis Wilson can lead the offense with his arm and his legs, picking apart a defense in flux at almost every position, especially the secondary. If our own secondary can buckle down and get the job done, the Utes can run away with this game in RES. This is the game for guys like Reginald Porter, who is supposedly tearing it up in spring ball, to begin to shine with a sometimes shaky Halliday throwing the ball. FINAL OUTCOME: WIN
10/4 - @ University of California Los Angeles
Time to get spicy. There is no doubt that UCLA is trending upwards, and yes with Huntley at the helm they are SCARY. But I can see the Utes going into the Rose Bowl and coming out with a win. Remember Travis Wilson's first collegiate start? Rookie QB, suspect offensive play, and yet still only lost by a score (yes I realize they scored very late in the game to make it one score but still). And the next year? SIX picks and still took the game to the wire. Dres pulls in one of those picks off his hands, and the Utes probably win that game. If TW can reenact that magic (minus the picks), and the defense can contain (won't be able to stop) Huntley, they can pull off an upset. Call me over optimistic, but if you do just remember the title of this post. FINAL OUTCOME: TOSS-UP
10/11 - BYE
10/16 - @ Oregon State University
REDEMPTION PART DEUX. Time to avenge another 2013 loss that should have been a win. Deciding factor between 2013 and 2014? Brandin Cooks. Mannion has NOBODY proven to get the ball too. So with OSU's best player at the very least slowed down, the always stout run defense can give the offense some breathing room. If Christensen can get the offense clicking, and new guys Kaelin Clay and DeVontae Booker start to assert themselves, this is another game the Utes can run away with at the end. FINAL OUTCOME: WIN
10/25- University of Southern California
Aaaaaand enter the proverbial gauntlet. The Trojans can come into RES anywhere from 6-1 to 4-3, and the game could be anywhere between the 2013 game and the 2011 game (let's hope for the latter). I have no issues seeing this game start much like the 2012 game, with the Utes coming out hot and putting up some points while USC takes some time to wake up. At this point we should know what kind of attitude Christensen has instilled in the offense, and that will determine if the game ends like the 2012 game, or if the Utes buckle down and don't stall out. That daunting task will fall mostly onto the big shoulders of the offensive line, especially leaders Poutasi and Alono. FINAL OUTCOME: TOSS-UP
11/1 - @ Arizona State University
Two things about this game tip the final outcome either direction for me. 1) It's in Tempe, a place that, to put it nicely, probably gives the Utes nightmares (it does for me), and that tips the scales automatically to the Sun Devils. 2) ASU loses nine starters on defense, including PAC-12 DPoY Will Sutton. I'm no mathematician, but that's a decent chunk. And that tips the scales back to the Utes in my opinion. This game comes down to ASU's offense vs. Utah's defense, and judging from the past two years, that's not a good sign. History tells us no one will have a great game here, but I expect Bubba Poole and Booker eclipse 150 yards combined, yet that may be the only bright spot of the day. FINAL OUTCOME: LOSS
11/8 - University of Oregon
Yeeeeah, hard to find optimism here. Hopefully they can keep it close and show improvement over last year's loss. Flashes of potential greatness from indiviuduals on defense could give a small silver lining here (maybe Masina depending on how he steps up in certain packages?). FINAL OUTCOME: LOSS
11/15 - @ Stanford University
I will never retract my statement after last year's game that if those two teams play 10 times, the Utes come out on top at least 7 times. Anyone that watched that game can firmly say that it wasn't a fluke. The matchups just favored the Utes too much. But you can be sure David Shaw will have the Cardinal ready to go. You could begin to wonder about the losses of Yankey, Gaffney, Skov, and Murphy, but the depth Stanford somehow comes up with every year, and with how they play at home, can't see the Utes pulling any sort of upset out of this. Kenneth Scott will have a day, but it won't be enough. FINAL OUTCOME: LOSS
11/22 - University of Arizona
Three straight losses will either deflate a team, or make them hungry. Coming home to RES should push that into the hungry region, and the Utes can come out and take it to the Wildcats to start a strong end to the season. No more Ka'Deem Carey means no more apparent kryptonite for the Utes defense. This forces Denker to beat the Utes, and with a career day from Nate Orchard, that doesn't happen. Offense gets back on track after going through the Oregon/Stanford wringer. FINAL OUTCOME: WIN
11/29 - @ University of Colorado
Maybe the nightmare game of 2011 still lingers in my head, but this game always scares me. Somehow the Utes always play down to Colorado, and with the steady improvement the Buffs have shown, this year is no different in my head. Hopefully Whitt has the same idea, and takes special steps to be sure that his team does not overlook this game, looking forward the the bowl game they are finally eligible for again. Fitting for a season finale, Dres, K. Scott, TW, Rowe, and even Blechen all step up and lead, vocally and physically, to a dominating win. The Utes have climbed their way out of the gutter and up to the top half of the PAC-12. FINAL OUTCOME: WIN
So as my season has gone, the Utes can either be 7-5, 8-4, or 9-3, but most importantly BOWL ELIGIBLE. My bet is on 8-4, beating USC and losing at UCLA in the two toss-up games. I haven't gotten into much research on possible bowl games, but based off of last year with Washington having a similar record, I would put the Utes in the Fight Hunger Bowl against (dare I say it?)... BYU! I for one wouldn't mind that one bit.
Again remember, this is all based on the Utes staying at 100% health (I know that's unlikely but I can dream) and not losing anyone for long periods of time or the season to injury like with K. Scott and Jake Murphy last year. I am a VERY optimistic person, and not afraid to voice that opinion. This is meant to ignite discussion, not arguments, so feel free to say where you agree or disagree, let's just keep it civil. GO UTES!!