Utah's last go around started to look promising with a few sacks against Boise State and a fumble recovery early on, but it was not to last. Utah had some big plays from Shaky Smithson in the first quarter as well, but drops by the Utah receivers and penalties were the demise for Utah. Those miscues along with a Joe Phillips missed field goal cost Utah anywhere from 10-17 points. Terrance Cain was running the Utah offense quite well and avoided a few sacks that probably would have been had if Jordan Wynn were in the game, and he kept them in the game with some big runs early on.
Boise State seemed lost and not motivated on both sides of the ball in the first quarter, and even missed an opportunity on a fake punt. The attempted fake punt was quite unusual with it being an end around and then a pass to the kicker who dropped a pass that hit him in the chest.The first quarter ended with Utah being up 3-0, but then the wheels fell off for Utah and Boise State then decided to show up. It seemed that at times Boise State was toying with Utah as their first two touchdowns sliced through the Utah defense with little or no trouble.
Utah pretty much gave the game to Boise by not capitalizing on three-and-out stops and the fumble recoveries. Not taking advantage of gift wrap points against a team as good as Boise is a sure way to lose the game as Utah did. On the Utes first possession after they sacked Kellen Moore and recovered the ball at the Boise 20 and then lost a few yards and missed a field goal. The dropped pass by Shaky Smithson that could have been a score or the illegal formation against JerEme Brooks where he caught a deep pass was called back. Mistakes like that make it very difficult for any team to keep pace with national title contenders.
There were other problems as well in this game and that was play calling on offense. Why on third-and-goal at the 10 would Utah decide to run the ball instead of passing for a decent shot at a touchdown. Getting a few extra yards is not necessary for Joe Phillps to make a glorified extra point. The running game overall was under used and for a split second thought Andy Ludwig was calling the plays again, but it really was co-offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick. The Utah coaching staff was out coached by Boise State, which is a rare occurrence because given time Kyle Whittingham is rarely out coached. It happened in the TCU game this, but it is an oddity. Whittingham thoroughly out coached Nick Saban in the Sugar Bowl two years ago and always has his team ready to go. All the blame can not go on the coaches, because the coaches are not dropping passes, but there could be an issue with concentration or perhaps discipline this year which caused this Utah team to not execute.
This all may like I am making excuses for Utah, but I am definitely not saying that Utah would have won had they gone up 17 to zero if they did score points on the opportunities the defense provided. Boise State's offense is so explosive so no lead is really safe, but with that cushion the game would of had a much different dynamic and who knows what could of happened.
One glaring hole on the Utah staff is the coaching experience where Whittingham has a solid six years under his belt, but quarterbacks coach Brian Johnson is 23 years old, defensive coordinator Kalani Sitake is in his second year in that position, Dave Schram and Aaron Roderick are co-offensive coordinator and Morgan Scalley who coaches the safeties and recruiting coordinator graduated from Utah in 2004. The only true veteran coach is defensive line coach John Pease who has coached in the professional ranks and he has done so for about 20 years. This could be an over reaction, but having a very young staff tends to rub off on the players, but there were none of these problems last year. The only game where Utah was outdone was against TCU and Utah was not even suppose to come close in that game and the other two loses to Oregon and BYU were close.
Coaching had something to do with the lost to Boise State, but I would say a little bit goes more to injuries by missing quarterback Jordan Wynn, dropped passes and Boise State was just the better team on the filed that night.
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