clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Five things to look for Saturday: New Mexico edition

Saturday's game is the perfect time for Utah to get out a great deal of its kinks. The New Mexico Lobos are not an opponent Ute fans should be losing sleep over and because of this, they're the type of team you want to play this early in the season.

They're awful and tantamount to a scrimmage. 

So what progress should we expect from week two to week three? 

Has Utah fixed its special teams mistakes? 

Kyle Whittingham said it best after Utah's win over UNLV: You shouldn't give up two blocked punts in a season, let alone the first two games of the season. 

He's right. Blocked punts are inexcusable and something that will need to be corrected if the Utes have any hope of contending with TCU for the top of the conference.

Fortunately, Whittingham gets there is a problem here and the team spent a great deal of practice this week focusing on those issues. This is the first game where we'll get a chance to see if they've made strides at correcting the problem. In my mind, this is the biggest issue facing Utah because it appears to be their weakest spot right now. 

If the Utes can get the struggles on special teams worked out, I think this team has the makings to be really special. If they can't, well expect some frustrating games in the near future. 

Will Utah strike fast?

New Mexico is a demoralized team. That happens when you're beat 72-0 and then 52-17 in your home opener. I suspect the Utes can put this one away early if they jump out to a two or three score lead in the first quarter. 

That's not always easy to do on the road and Utah really doesn't have a history of smothering teams quickly under Whittingham. I hope, for their poll standing and the game itself, that isn't the case this week. Jump on the Lobos early, don't ease up and end the game by halftime. 

It might be too much to expect, especially with questions at quarterback, but you've got to think Utah is itching for a dominating performance - something they only really had once last year - against these same Lobos. 

Who will start, Jordan Wynn or Terrance Cain

Cain is very much capable of leading Utah to victory Saturday. However, if he does start, which I'm expecting at the moment, I think the Utes need Wynn to get some action next Saturday against the San Jose St. Spartans

I say this because the next game, after the bye week, comes on the road against Iowa State. That isn't the type of game you want to bring your quarterback back for, especially if he's only played in one game this season.

So I don't believe New Mexico is a must-start for Wynn. I suspect he'll probably sit all of it out. But he does need a tuneup game and ideally, it'd come Saturday. If it doesn't, then it better come against San Jose State or things could prove interesting when the season resumes in October against the Cyclones. 

Will Utah's defense shut down the Lobos? 

Scores can be a bit deceiving. Texas Tech might've held New Mexico to 17 points, however, if you look deeper than that, you'll see the Lobos' offense wasn't entirely bad. They did manage 433 total yards of offense, about 30 less than the Red Raiders, and much of that, 336, came through the air. 

That's not to say I'm concerned about their offense. But it can put the team in position to score. Unfortunately for New Mexico, that's something they didn't do against Oregon and barely did against a Tech team who has a history of defensive struggles. 

Against the Rebels, Utah's defense did a lot of bending by giving up 319 yards. Yet where it counted the most, on the scoreboard, they did not break. 

They'll need to do the same thing Saturday if they don't want their season spoiled. 

Which offensive player will have a breakout performance? 

Against Pitt, DeVonte Christopher had his best game as a Ute. A week later, Shaky Smithson produced arguably his best game in a Utah uniform. This week? 

One thing I've liked about this offense in the first two weeks is how much talent there appears to be all around. They have multiple weapons at nearly every position and because of this, the team isn't running through just one player. 

That's always nice because most players can't keep up a near-perfect level for 12 straight games.

So when Jereme Brooks, the senior leader of the wide receivers, has a quiet four catches, Shaky Smithson might have the biggest catch of the day - one that results in a touchdown. 

Who will it be Saturday?