The Utes are back in the Pac-12 Championship Game, and it has been a long and windy road. A dominating non-conference for the Utes was followed up by an egg in LA, and then the Utes rallied for eight straight mostly dominating Pac-12 wins to wrap up an 11-1, Pac-12 South championship season. Zack Moss, Bradlee Anae, Leki Fotu and Julian Blackmon returned to school for this shot, and as Moss said, let’s do this damn thing.
The Utes are taking on the Ducks of Oregon, a team that the Utes beat last season in Rice-Eccles, but didn’t play this season due to the schedule rotation that happens in the 12 team Pac-12. Oregon dropped to Auburn to open the season, then rattled off nine straight wins in conference before dropping a disappointing game to Arizona State. The Ducks currently sit at No. 13 in the CFP. They return QB Justin Herbert and a potent offensive attack, that’s really headlined by a very talented offensive front. On defense, they rank behind the Utes in many categories, and have proven to be playmakers on that side of the ball. Overall, this shapes up to be a championship game for the ages.
For the Utes, the game plan remains the same as it has been all season on offense. Take care of Tyler Huntley, and lean on the run game to set everything up. The weather won’t be the best, so ball security will be critical in a game like this, as we saw a season ago against Washington. The Ducks are going to put this game on Tyler Huntley’s shoulders, so we need to see him sharp, make good decisions, and look to make plays downfield to his playmakers. Tyler can’t get happy feet, like what we saw in the first quarter of the Colorado game, he has to keep his eyes downfield. He also needs to be smart with the football when he throws it, Oregon is a playmaking defense that will capitalize on bad throws. Also, Andy Ludwig needs to be creative in the run game, like he has been all season. Moss will be the focus, especially up the gut, so he needs to keep Oregon off balance.
On defense, again same as always, the Ducks want to run the ball, so the Utes need to shut that down. For as talented as Justin Herbert is, if the Utes put the ball in his hands the entire game plays will be there to be made for the Utes. Oregon is very similar to Utah, so they can’t let them stay ahead of the chains, and keep the Ducks to 2nd and 3rd and long. The linebackers will be key in this, because Oregon likes to throw out a lot of eye candy, and with their tempo they can catch you off guard, so the backers need to stay disciplined and finish tackles that are out there.
This is the game that the program has been waiting for, and everything is in front of them, now they just need to go out and take care of business.
Let’s do this damn thing.
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