It's obvious, with what has transpired over the last few days, if one were asked what does Utah football want for Christmas, Utes fans would lament about needing a new defensive and offensive coordinator, or maybe to hold its recruiting class together (and if Whittingham were to leave, as well, a new head coach). Besides all of that, here are a a few things that maybe should be added to Utah football's Christmas wish list to bring happy faces to Utes fans one and all on in the coming new year (even though football Christmas Day is more like Sept 3, 2015).
Consistent Quarterback Play:
People may want to hearken back to the glory days of 2008 for consistent quarterback play, but, really, to get that one might have to go all the way back to 2004. Even in 2008, there were moments that one was thankful that the opponents Utah were facing were not that good. There was a reason Corbin Louks saw time on the field to change up the offense. It wasn't until late in the season that adjustments were made, and an offense that was more suited for Brian Johnson's skill set was implemented, that the play from the QB became consistent. Why this is sometimes a sore subject for Ute fans is because they see Utah face NFL-type QBs every week in the Pac-12. It doesn't matter if the Utes are facing a freshman or a senior. If the opposing quarterback has a wide receiver wide open down the field, the QB will find him and complete the pass. They seem to move their teams up and down the field with ease. They look like they've been slinging a football since they were five. Why can't Utah have that? Utah wants that for the new year.
Wins over Arizona St and Washington:
Utah shouldn't be on Santa's naughty list anymore, and it's time to get a win over the Sun Devils and the Huskies. Utah is 0-4 in the Pac-12 vs ASU, and 6-20 overall in the series. It would be nice to see Utah walk off the field victors next season versus Arizona St. The Utes haven't had the opportunity to play Washington very much, but Utah is 0-2 in the Pac-12, and 0-8 overall in the series against the Huskies. This year's game is up in Washington, and would be just candy canes and gum drops if the Utes could get their first win ever over the Huskies. It would be so nice to go 2-0 next year, and get these two monkeys of their back.
A Bowl Game again in 2015:
Just like opening that Red Rider BB Gun on Christmas Day, it was thrilling to see the Utes in the a bowl game in 2014. When they ran out on the field at Sam Boyd Stadium, one had to feel as if Utah had returned to where they belong in December. Since Utah got the invite as a 6-6 team to play in the Copper Bowl in 1992, post season play has become part of the Holiday Season for Utah fans, with so many great memories of bowls past. But the last two years have felt like The Grinch Stole Christmas.
A one-point loss or missed interception has kept Ute fans the last couple of years from singing like citizens of Whoville. Last year, watching Wazzu blow a fourth quarter lead versus Colorado State, one had to think that Utah would not have let that happen. Nine Pac-12 teams went bowling in 2013, and eight in 2014. Surely Utah is top nine in the Pac 12. Despite another daunting schedule next year, Utah can reach a bowl game again next year. That should be included on any Christmas list, and they should be thinking of where next year instead of if.
A Kyle New Year:
Even outside of the coordinators, Utah needs to retain head coach Kyle Whittingham. Whittingham has a 66 percent winning percentage (85-43) and is 8-1 in bowl game, one of the best bowl records in FBS history. Whittingham has a piece of Utah's BCS Busting 2005 Fiesta Bowl win (was named co-head coach for the game), and was the solo head coach for the 2009 Sugar Bowl. The former defensive coordinator has two winning seasons since joining the Pac-12, as well as one winning season within the conference. It's fair to say Whitt has the longest, most successful career as a head coach in Utah football history. Meyer didn't stay long, and MacBride was hit and miss from one season to the next.
After the loss of two high-profile coordinators, it needs to be a Kyle New Year to keep Utes fans from jumping off ledges. Nine wins is a nice mark, but with the returners (minus Poutasi and likely Booker), the Utes could expect another step in the Pac-12 progression. Without Whittingham, it becomes a bleak outlook this late in the offseason.
While Ute fan would love to see the South stands remodeled at Rice-Eccles, more restrooms created, and after a couple rainy games this year, a roof, I think some consistent play from the quarterback, wins over those dastardly Huskies and Sun Devils, and a 2015 bowl game (not to mention the return of their head coach) would be great presents to unwrap under the Utah football Christmas tree.