Tag:Matt Asiata
Posted on: March 9, 2011 8:44 pm
Edited on: March 9, 2011 8:49 pm
 

Spring Practice Primer: Utah

Posted by Bryan Fischer

College Football has no offseason. Every coach knows that the preparation for September begins now, in Spring Practice. So we here at the Eye on College Football will get you ready as teams open spring ball with our Spring Practice Primers. Today, we look at Utah, who began spring practice on Tuesday.

What are some of the issues Utah has to figure out before moving to the Pac-12?

When you look at teams going through transition this spring, most are referring to a quarterback change or having to deal with new coaching staff members. At Utah, "transition" is less about who's under center and more about a move to a whole different conference.

"It is a new era for Utah football and you can sense it," head coach Kyle Willingham told reporters after the Utes' first practice. "There is a lot of excitement about it and new challenges."

The move to a new league will come complete with a new offense thanks to distinguished alum and new offensive coordinator Norm Chow. Though he ran the Pistol offense while at UCLA with limited success, Chow is known best for producing high scoring offenses with top flight pro-style quarterbacks (see Palmer, Carson at USC and Rivers, Phillip at N.C. State). Last season's starter Jordan Wynn will miss spring practice after undergoing shoulder surgery, which leaves all the reps to true freshman Tyler Shreve and sophomore Griff Robles. While spring offers the Utes a chance to see what the quarterback of the future looks like, they won't be able to see what the quarterback for next season looks like after Chow all but confirmed that Wynn would start in the fall.

"I told Jordan I'd go to the Heisman one more time and then I'll retire," he told The Salt Lake Tribune.

The backfield is also an area of concern. The team loses two of their leading rushers from last season in Eddie Wide and Matt Asiata. Don't be surprised if early enrollee Harvey Langi makes a big push for playing time after several top programs recruited the big back out of high school. Paving the way in the new pro-style attack will be Boo Anderson, who moves from linebacker to fullback. Three of the five starters on the offensive line are back but there will be battles at both guard spots the Utes will need to lock down before all is said and done.

Oh and one of the best names in college football, wide receiver Shaky Smithson, departs after being a threat in the passing game and special teams. While it might seem like there's a lot of moving parts on offense, there are a few things Willingham doesn't have to worry about. Linebackers Matt Martinez and Chaz Walker return and safety Brian Belchen has bulked up a bit after moving to SAM linebacker. Not a surprise but Willingham thanks Star Lotulelei will be a star at defensive tackle and David Kruger and Derrick Shelby are returning starters at defensive end.

Previous Spring Primers
The front seven should be relatively well equipped for the move for the Pac-12 but the secondary will need to be straightened out over the next month with all four spots up for grabs. You can pencil in junior Conroy Black, who is the fastest player on the team and grabbed an interception last season in a decent amount of playing time. Outside of Black, there's several players who should compete for the other three spots.

Are there a few things the Utes want to get worked out? Yes on both sides of the ball. But that's what spring football is all about, working out the kinks. The coaching staff believes that there's plenty of talent to compete week in and week out in a new conference and there is enough proven talent that will suit up this spring to back that up.

"They've played in big games against the Alabama's and teams so that will be nothing different," Chow told the Tribune. "The challenge will be the week to week competition in the Pac-12. That is different but we'll be ready."

Plenty of things to figure out beforehand though.

Posted on: December 23, 2010 1:53 am
 

Bowl Grades: MAACO Bowl Las Vegas

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Boise State overcame a sluggish first half to shut down the Utah Utes, 26-3.

Boise State

Offense: The Broncos committed an uncharacteristic four turnovers tonight, and that doesn't count the blocked field goal or the dropped pass on a fake punt. And yet, Kellen Moore still threw for well over 300 yards and got over 200 yards on the ground from his running backs. Moore and Austin Pettis combined for 11 completions, 145 yards, and a score -- all of which were bigger numbers than the Utah passing game accomplished altogether (Pettis also threw a two-yard completion to himself, which was as silly as it sounds). And while Boise didn't convert 10 of its 18 3rd downs, only one resulted in a punt, and that was a masterful 47-yard directional punt out of bounds. Still, the low point total could have been disastrous. Grade: B-

Defense: Utah quarterback Terrence Cain struggled all day long against the Boise defense. While some of those struggles were exacerbated by mental mistakes by his receivers -- more on that in a bit -- he also faced constant pressure from the Broncos' front four, often forcing sacks or quick and errant throws. Utah would only manage eight first downs on the entire day, and even the Utes' short-field drives (five of which started past the Utah 40) were by and large fruitless. Grade: A

Coaching: At times, Chris Peterson was a little too cute with his playcalling, and it led to potential problems for the Broncos. Most notably, we're talking about Peterson's fake punt reverse pass that ended up being thrown to punter/placekicker/scapegoat Kyle Brotzman , who was open on the play but displayed zero receiving acumen as he tried to catch the pass with his stomach. There's a reason not to throw these guys the ball, y'know. But even after that dropped pass and all the groaning by people reminiscing about Brotzman's awful night against Nevada last month, Peterson never hesitated calling his kicker's number, and that's commendable. Grade: B+

Utah

Offense: It's hard not to fall into the familiar "A's for winners, F's for losers" model of game grading, especially when dealing with a starting quarterback who's seen limited action this year like Terrence Cain. Cain started in place of injured Jordan Wynn and underwhelmed, as his final numbers bear out: 10/24, 93 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT; 14 rushes, 19 yards, 0 TD, one fumble lost. And yet, Cain had several good throws come up empty; the announcers estimated that six of Utah's 14 incompletions were on dropped passes (some of which were unconscionable), a pass to inside the 5-yard-line was called back on a dubious illegal downfield receiver, and a touchdown pass was waved off after an easy holding call. Cain could have done better; his supporting cast didn't give him much help, though, and that's clearly a problem when facing a defense like Boise's. Grade: D+

Defense: Give the Utah D some credit; by and large, it held the Boise rushing attack in check. If it weren't for that 84-yard run by Doug Martin to open up the Broncos' scoring, Utah would have given up just 118 yard on 36 carries, a 3.3-yard average. That's ordinarily very good! It's just, Martin's run did happen, and it changed the momentum of the game. Boise State's 26-second touchdown drive to cap the first half didn't help Utah much either. But other than those two quick strikes, the Utes largely held the Broncos in check. Boise's 26 points, in fact, were the least it had scored in any game this year. Not a bad performance, and that doesn't include the turnovers forced. Grade: B-

Coaching: It's tough to hang too much of the blame for Utah's struggles on Kyle Whittingham tonight; after all, he wasn't the one out there committing penalties or dropping passes. Still, though, his playcalling left a little to be desired; too often, Cain would drop back on first down, something the Boise State pass rush and linebackers were routinely ready for. Matt Asiata , Eddie Wide III , and Shaky Smithson each had a rush for over 20 yards on the day, yet the three players combined for only the same amount of carries (14) as Cain had on the day. That's not putting the offense in position to make plays. Grade: C

Final Grade

This could have been a good game, but Utah spent so, so much time blowing opportunities in new and exciting ways (fumbling in Boise territory, committing backbreaking penalties, making Cain face over 10 yars on all but a couple of his third downs, etc.) that once Boise State was up 16-3, the game just felt over. That's a departure from Boise State's usual bowl play, which routinely features 60-minute, one-possession contests, but c'mon; the Broncos even tried handing the Utes a big lead in the first half and Utah couldn't capitalize. It's too bad such a high-profile game turned into such a snoozer (I have literally fallen asleep three times since starting this article), but Boise State is a very good team, and this is what very good teams do to sloppy teams. Grade: C-


 
 
 
 
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