Hopefully this week goes better than last.
Coach held his weekly press conference, where he talked about last week's loss, Air Force and the injury situation.
Yes, strange, but a good strange. I didn't like DeBerry and even though I respected him as a coach, I thought he was pretty much a complete ass.
This is basically what I said in my preview. Look for a dramatically different offense from Air Force and I highly doubt that was on display during their victory over South Carolina State.
If, and that is not a forgone conclusion, Utah can get a victory against the Falcons, they should start conference play 3-0 (Air Force, UNLV and SDSU). That would mean by the time Brian Johnson came back, the Utes could most likely be at the top of the conference. Good news, but they'll have to get it done against the Falcons for this to happen.
Whittingham on the early conference game
I disagree. The advantage is the fact Utah opens up its conference play with three of the weakest (at least last year) opponents. They should be favored in every one of those games, Brian Johnson or not. If they win those games, it will soften the blow of not having Johnson and could make it possible for a run at the conference championship. 3-0 in conference play by early October would be nice and a very attainable goal.
On Grady starting
Our plan was to use the run a lot with Brian Johnson. But, it isn't with Grady. It's not going to be a wholesale change with Grady at quarterback, but our running game is going to be a little different.
Grady might have a good arm, but he has struggled finding open receivers. That's my biggest concern right now about Grady and one I hope he can over come against Air Force. As for changing the game plan, this is a smart move, because we can't run the same offense we ran in the second half of the Oregon State game.
It'll also be interesting to see what Utah can do with their running game. If they can't find anything on the ground, I doubt this offense is efficient enough to make this game with Air Force competitive.
On the running game
This is a big issue with me, because I think Utah underdeveloped the running game throughout fall camp. Whittingham even stated they were focusing on the passing game because he didn't expect it to be an issue and because of that, we're now left with basically rebooting the ground game. That's the fault of the coaches and the fact Stowers, Poston and Mack did not get decent enough live reps could really set this team back against the Falcons.
On how the running game will be different now
He's right here, but talk is cheap. Utah's running game has been fairly ineffective since Whittingham took over and I question whether that will just abruptly change this week. If there is a weakness on offense, this is it. Of course, if Grady struggles passing the ball, Utah will have to fall back on their running game and that could be a problem if it's as bad as it was Thursday night.
On putting the opening week behind the team
I'm glad Whittingham isn't using injuries as an excuse, that's a good move. No one is going to pity Utah for losing key players. The team can't pity themselves and I know for a fact Air Force won't be, so it's up them to rally behind Grady and ride him to victory. Let's hope that happens.
On scouting Air Force
Utah has questions, but so does Air Force. People automatically focus on the Utes' issues, but you can't ignore the fact Air Force played a D1-AA team last week. The Falcons should have won and they did, but how much do we really know about them? As Whittingham said earlier in his press conference, they most definitely did not run their entire offense, so how much of that will be new against Utah? It's impossible to scout the talent of this team after just one game. That should be a positive for the Falcons.
This offense will be different and that could be good for Utah, as they struggled at stopping DeBerry's wishbone. However, with minimal game footage, the change could also be an issue if the Utes don't know what exactly they're going to run and therefore can't prepare properly for it.
This is a must win for Utah to salvage their season. Hopefully, like in years past, they play well with their backs against the wall. A victory, especially a dominate one, will have me optimistic about the possible outcome of this season. A loss and well, I don't even want to think about that.