The Utah Utes finally got the BYE week they deserved over the last week after a close loss against the Washington Huskies. Here are three things the Utes needed to focus on over the past week.
For Utah, this season has clearly been one of the worst ever in dealing with injuries at nearly every position on the field. The Utes have suffered through over twenty injuries throughout the season and at least five of those were season ending. While the Utes have managed to put up great battles for wins despite key starters dealing with injuries that forced them out of game, the BYE week should have provided a much-needed focus on healing and rest. If Utah is able to get most of the starters and key players back on the field the PAC 12 could be looking at an even greater force in Utah.
2. Confidence in November
Falling just short of a win over the undefeated Huskies, Utah now finds itself at seven wins and two losses. Over the past few years November has been detrimental for the Utes winning seasons. During the 2014 season, Utah finished nine and four with three of the four losses coming in November. The Utes followed that up in 2015 with a 10 win season with two of the three losses plaguing November. November is now here and with three games left to play, Utah has the opportunity to still win the south by winning out. The biggest question is how big of a factor that loss against the Huskies will play in the confidence the Utes have to finish out the season strong.
3. Offensive consistency
The Utes have seen great improvement overall on offense this season. The offensive line started game one with an abundance of penalty issues and even though that problem has continued depending on the health of the center, the line has seen great progress and been a major factor in Utah’s success on fourth and short. Not only has the line seen improvement, despite persistent injury problems at running back for Utah, since Joe Williams has returned he has rushed for 685 yards in just three games. The lingering problems for the Utes on offense seem to be through the air and in the red zone. In passing production, Utah sits in the middle of the PAC 12 and has a completion percent of only 55. In red zone offense, the Utes sit at the bottom of PAC 12 with only a 76 percent conversion.
With several players banged up and in dire need of the BYE it could not have come any later in the season. The Utes move onto Arizona State this week and will look to see more key players back on both sides of the ball.