The Utah Utes (2-0, 0-0 Pac-12) will play host to the San Jose State Spartans (1-2, 0-0 Mountain West) at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah tonight Saturday Sept. 16 at 8:00 p.m. MT on ESPN2. This is the last non conference game for the Utes in 2017, and the real season will start next week. This will be the last chance for Utah to work out the kinks before conference play begins.
Last non conference game
This is Utah’s last chance to get things cleaned up before they start conference play next Friday night at Arizona. Utah has averaged 11 penalties per game (second worst in the Pac-12) for 116.0 yards per game (the worst in the Pac-12). Utah also ranks last in red zone touchdown percentage, only scoring a touchdown on 35.71% of red zone trips so far this season. Utah needs to clean these things up if they want to compete in the Pac-12 South with teams like USC. This game will also likely be the easiest game for the Utes all season, so this is a game they should dominate. The thing fans need to remember is Utah returned the fewest starters of any Pac-12 team. Even though they returned their starting quarterback for 2016, they have a new starter at quarterback as well. They replaced four offensive linemen and one of the best running backs in school history. They replaced four players in the secondary as well. They also are running a new offensive scheme under new offensive coordinator Troy Taylor. This is a young, inexperienced team, so it is not surprising they have made some mistakes through the first two weeks. Despite the mistakes, they have flashed a lot of talent. Tyler Huntley has shown everyone why he won the starting job through the first two games. Darren Carrington II has lived up to the hype at wide receiver. The young secondary looks really talented so far. Julian Blackmon and Jaylon Johnson have both recorded an interception this season as new starters at cornerback.
Ute Proud game
The Utes will honor their namesake Ute Tribe for the annual Ute Proud game. The Ute Tribe will perform at halftime. It is always a nice moment when the Ute Tribe performs a traditional dance on the field at Rice-Eccles Stadium. The state of Utah takes its name from the Ute Tribe as well. The land where the University of Utah resides is historic Ute Tribe land. As part of the Memorandum of Understanding, which was signed in 2014 and extended Utah’s use of Ute as their mascot and the drum and feather logo, scholarships for Ute Tribe members was established, in addition to other such scholarships that already existed on campus.
Start fast and dominate
The Spartans are a team Utah should handle easily if they limit mistakes and play as well as we all know they can. Utah just cannot let SJSU hang around. They started fast against South Florida in week 0, jumping out to a 22-0 lead. They ended up losing 42-22. It is important to guard against the Spartans coming out fast since they have nothing to lose in this game. They are coming off a 56-0 loss at Texas, so they could be hungry to get the bad taste from that game out of their mouths. Utah started slow in their first two games, scoring a combined three points in their first two games. Can they get their first first quarter touchdown of the year tonight? Utah is the more talented team, so if they can clean up their mistakes and start fast, they will dominate from the start, which is what they should do. A big win could launch the Utes into conference play.