OK so it didn’t end 33-13 as I predicted. My logic was almost right there!
Utah’s season opening win over an overmatched Michigan team was impressive, especially in light of the normal hiccups of anybody’s season opening effort. Work ethic was proper, execution lacked in a few areas but as Collin Cowherd remarked after the game “Sure the Utes have some things to clean up, but it’s a team that doesn’t have any holes? Right? No obvious flaws.”
If you give the Utes 6 more points by virtue of Andy Phillips’ 2 missed FG’s that he normally makes AND don’t allow that “what are they doing” last minute Utah lay down on defense, the final would’ve been 30-10, pretty close to 33-13. I know, I know it’ doesn’t work like that but you get my drift. My thought process was right on but in this kind of matchup, season opener, against a Michigan team fueled by emotion off the debut of a school legend, I should’ve reeled the score in a bit.
As for how Coach Whittingham will view this? It’s a huge win to open the 2015 season, a whole lot of positives.
First and foremost QB Travis Wilson played just about the perfect game. Ran for a score, made good reads, NO turnovers, mostly put the football where it needed to be. Devontae Booker had over 100 yards rushing and receiving which reflects his toughness and talent since the Wolverines defense was stacked to stop him and Michigan has a solid defense. Freshman Briton Covey is as advertised, and might warrant a few more touches going forward but you have to weight that heavier workload against what is prudent. At 5’8″ and just 166 lbs Covey can’t take a whole lot of pounding, so Utah’s coordinators must limit his exposure.
Finally, Justin Thomas stepped up and took it to the house! Part great coaching, part right place, right time, perfect read!
The areas where the Utes must and will improve is along the interior of it’s lines. Offense and Defense. Run-blocking and rushing the passer. No doubt those deficiencies have been identified in the film study and Utah’s coaches are already addressing the specifics. The defensive backs will help each other out more, communicate better and not allow a QB to waltz down the field like Jake Rudock did late in the 4th quarter with Utah leading 24-10. It felt like playing “prevent in garbage time” but then all of a sudden the Wolverines were only down a touchdown.
Andy Phillips might not miss two FG’s for the rest of the season.
So far Utah’s 1-0 and now must work themselves back up for next week’s “Battle of the Brothers”, Utah State didn’t look great in pulling out a win at home against Southern Utah. The Aggies will be better, so will the Utes.
No Predictions from me yet although I promise you it won’t be 33-13!