Saturday, Sep 19, 2009, 12:30 PM PDT
Radio: KALL 700 Sports
The longest winning streak in the nation appeared to be in jeopardy last week against San Jose State, but ended up pulling out a win extending the win streak to 16 games. Utah's winning streak being extended depends on much needed improvements on both sides of the ball. The Utes (2-0) had 3 turnovers and 11 penalties last week in 24-14. Fifth-year Utah coach Kyle Whittingham commented about his team's struggles last week.
"We've got our fair share of deficiencies to work on in practice," Whittingham said. "You name it; we've got to work on it for next week. ... We're miles away from having all the answers."
A Utah win does not only depend on Utah's improvements but Oregon's as well. The Ducks (1-1) came into the season at No. 16 but fell out of the rankings after a 19-8 loss at then-No. 14 Boise State in which they were held to their lowest yardage total in nearly 15 years.
To make matters worse, running back LeGarrette Blount punched Boise State defense end Byron Hout in the aftermath of the game on national television. First-year Oregon coach Chip Kelly acted swiftly, suspending Blount for the season the next morning.
Oregon bounced back however from a dismal performance against Boise State with a 38-36 home win against Purdue, totaling up 356 yards on offense and stopping the Boilermakers' two-point conversion with 1:01 left.
Kelly was also encouraged by the performance.
"We have moved on from last week. I am very impressed with the effort and hard work all of these players have put forth," he said. "The offense was better this week. We ran the ball, and got a couple of first downs. It's all about the rhythm, and once we get going the only people who can stop us are ourselves."
Oregon, one of the most prolific offensive teams in the nation last year, hopes to build on its first win by extending its home success against non-conference opponents. The Ducks have won 28 of 30 non-conference games at Autzen Stadium since the start of the 1995 season, going 5-0 against ranked teams.
Utah's 16-game win streak is tied for the second-longest in school history and dates back to a victory over Navy in the 2007 Poinsettia Bowl. The school record is 18 consecutive games from Nov. 1, 2003 through Sept. 10, 2005.
Also, the cornerback position was very questioinable last week and were beat by San Jose State's receivers, and Oregon has better receivers and athletes. Utah will still run their man coverage, but Oregon will have chances to exploit those corners.
For the Utes, RB Matt Asiata is questionable with a shoulder injury. Also OL Caleb Schlauderaff is probable for Saturday's game. Both are needed for Utah to have a strong showing.