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Second half meltdowns return

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Last season the Utes were plagued by inconsistent play in the second half of their games. Against Arizona, TCU, Air Force, North Carolina, Colorado State and New Mexico, the Utes were outscored heavily in the final two quarters of the game. This season that wasn't much of an issue, but it seems to be rearing its ugly head again. And that falls on the shoulders of this coaching staff because it shows how much they get outcoached in the second half.

Last night's game against New Mexico proved how utterly lost Kyle Whittingham and his staff are when it comes to adjustments. At the half the Utes were sitting on a comfortable 24-10 lead, before watching it slip away because the Lobos made the adjustments and Utah failed to adjust to those adjustments. It was an ugly second half that was reminiscent Ron McBride ball more than anything else I've ever seen under Kyle Whittingham. In fact this game reminded me so much of Utah's 26-30 loss to Air Force in McBride's final season. In that game, the Utes jumped out to a 26-0 lead, only to lose the game after the Falcons made an impressive rally in the second half. That was the game I knew Ron McBride was officially done at Utah and he was nothing more than a lameduck coach. Last night's game, I had the same thoughts for Whittingham and will stand by them until I see a deviation from this errant, sloppy play. However I'm not holding my breath.

Whittingham has coached in 20 games since taking over from Urban Meyer in 2005 and if you examine the box scores of each game, you'll see a striking trend. The Utes have been abused in the second half of many of their games and it's been ignored the entire time Whittingham has been here.

Utah's scoring in all quarters:

1st Quarter 2nd Quarter 3rd Quarter 4th Quarter
96 204 132 81

Opponents scoring in all quarters:

1st Quarter 2nd Quarter 3rd Quarter 4th Quarter
84 121 106 115

What this shows is that Utah typically starts out well on average, but falls apart in the second half. Utah has scored 300 points in the first half during Whittingham's career, while only giving up 205 points. That would mean, on average over the past 19 games (I did not count the Emerald Bowl), the Utes led their opponent 16-10 at the half. In the second half of the game, it's an entirely different story.

Utah has scored only 213 points in the second half and an abysmal 81 points in the crucial 4th quarter. On the other side, Utah's opponents have scored 221 points while Whittingham has been here. In total, Utah still has outscored every opponent by a score of 513-426, but a bulk of those points have always come in the first half of the game.

I do not think this tells the whole story though, because Utah's played some bad teams over the one and a half years Whittingham has been here. Outside of the Emerald Bowl, the Utes have only blown out one opponent that has an above .500 record and that was TCU this year. Every other win, against average to good teams, the Utes have struggled.

So looking at these stats, I'm inclined to believe the Utes have gaudy numbers because of their ability to run up the score on weaker opponents. Faced with any adversity, and the Utes buckle faster than an 90 year old running a marathon. And that's the sad truth about Whittingham coached Utah teams. They fail to adjust and if any team throws adjustments at them, they're done. UCLA did it, Boise State did it, Wyoming did it and now New Mexico has done it and that's just this season. I'd hate to see what Air Force, Colorado State and BYU do to Utah in the coming weeks. Utah football is in an ugly state right now, probably at the ugliest it's been since Jim Fassel was fired in 1989.