The 2007 Utes finally get their QB they need to run the spread offense, Brian Johnson comes back after tearing his ACL against New Mexico in 2005. Last year the offense still had its moments with Brett Ratliff putting up points, but it was not as productive as Brian Johnson running the show. This year Ute team has a brutal non conference schedule with games at Oregon State, UCLA at home, and then at Louisville. Then you can add in road conference games at TCU and at BYU and that makes for a tough schedule. The thing outsiders may not notice is that the Utes record may not have the record that indicates how good they really are. The Utes bring back 9 offensive starters if you include Brian Johnson who started in 2005, but a big blow came in the first scrimmage in the fall when Senior offensive tackle Jason Boone went down with a torn ACL in the first scrimmage. The defense is young and will rely on Sean Smith at the defensive backfield as he takes over for Eric Weddle who was drafted by the Chargers, and another key player will be linebacker Joe Jiannoni who will anchor that area of the field. The key thing missing from last year was a running attack that was decent at best, but that could change this year with Johnson who is better suited to run the option then Brett Ratliff, but the real key to the running game is the addition of All Western States JUCO running back Matt Asiata who should be taking the main carries in this offense.
Here is the schedule
Aug. 30 at Oregon State 7:00 PM PT TV: Fox Sports Regional
Sept. 8 AIR FORCE 4:00 PM MT TV: The Mtn.
Sept. 15 UCLA 3:00 PM MT TV: Versus
Sept. 22 at UNLV 7:00 PM PT TV: The Mtn.
Sept. 29 UTAH STATE 1:00 PM MT TV: The Mtn.
Oct. 5 at Louisville 8:00 PM ET TV: ESPN
Oct. 13 SAN DIEGO STATE 1:00 PM MT TV: NONE
Oct. 18 at TCU 7:00 PM MT TV: Versus
Oct. 27 at Colorado State 3:30 PM MT TV: The Mtn.
Nov. 10 WYOMING 1:30 PM MT TV: CSTV
Nov. 17 NEW MEXICO 3:30 PM MT TV: The Mtn.
Nov. 24 at BYU 12:00 PM MT TV: CSTV/The Mtn.
Lock it up... Air Force, @UNLV, Utah State, San Diego State, New Mexico
Maybe... @ Oregon State, UCLA, @TCU, @ Colorado State, Wyoming, @ BYU
No Chance... @ Louisville
The prediction for the Utes would have them finish second in the conference giving them a conference record of 6-2 by losing to TCU and perhaps either losing to BYU or at Colorado State. Their overall record would put the Utes at 8-4 maybe 9-3 by beating Oregon State and Utah State. UCLA is ranked in top 25 but I feel they are vastly overrated, because last year the Bruins finished 7-6 and getting crushed by FSU the only reason they get pub is that they beat USC. I feel this game could go either way. The Louisville game the Utes will probably lose, but I think they will keep it close for at least 2 quarters.
Best case scenario... The Utes would be 5-0 heading into the Louisville game in a match up of undefeated teams, even in the best case I see the Utes being competitive and keeping it close. The Ute defense will not be able to hold up and this would be their first loss. I could see the Utes finishing the season 11-1 and winning the conference, or 10-2 and still winning the Mountain West. For this to come true the Utes running game will have to be much better then last year, and it should with Matt Asiata leading the way and also Daryl Poston contributing. Then the defense would be over achieving to reach this level.
Worst case scenario... The Utes would start the season 2-2 losing to both Oregon State and UCLA. Then in their next four games the Utes would then go 2-2 by beating the bottow dwellers of football in San Diego State and Utah State. As for the last 4 games the Utes could go either 2-2 and 1-3 during that stretch. Events that could lead to this would be Matt Asiata's foot never really heals and the running game is again sub par and then the defense just plays terrible. This scenario would move the Utes back to a record of 6-6 or even worse 5-7.