How awkward is it driving the Harbus or being a Harbro this morning?
The buildup and one-sided marketing of this game was so focused on the new Michigan head coach that you might easily have mistaken Khaki as an official color for the school long identified by the iconic “maize and blue”.
Experts, pundits, coaches, Vegas, and educated fans knew that the Utes were a justified favorite heading into the game, yet the network went all-in on the Harbaugh angle. It makes sense from a publicity standpoint, but is cringe-worthy awkward the next day. If you saw the bus up close, you know that the khaki pants are actually a fabric overlay. Might have been a good idea to have made the khaki removable and put a layer of Utes-printed boxer shorts underneath. The Harbus will suffer the ultimate “walk of shame” wearing its clothes from the night before. Lesson learned I suppose.
Now to the important part. The game itself. I expected a less conservative approach on both sides of the ball, but the Utah coaching staff might have figured through camp that they were a better team, depth and athleticism wise and could play a lot of base packages to simply wear Michigan down. With a little help from poor QB play by Rudock, ultimately, it worked out. Plenty of room to improve for the Utes before a week two matchup with Utah State, but there is no shame in coming away with a hard fought win over a better-than-expected Michigan team.
Let’s talk about the Positives and Negatives of Game 1
POSITIVE- Utah played great against the run, swarm-tackling and keeping a committee of runners for the Wolverines from breaking anything significant. The longest MICH run was only for seven yards.
NEGATIVE- run-stopping was a theme in the physical matchup… Michigan’s front 7 held Booker to a modest 3.1 yds/carry. Wilson’s running performance won’t be talked about enough, but he extended two key drives with his legs and scored a rushing TD.
+ The D created 3 Turnovers (5 if you count TO on downs )
– Two of those turnovers translated to zero points after bum drives.
+ The third turnover was a pick-6 that effectively sealed the game. Biggest play of Justin Thomas’ career.
– Special teams was a non-factor. Automatic Andy was anything but last night, missing from 46 and 48. Certainly not chip shots, but well within his ability to hit. 6 pts.
+ Travis Wilson played a great game. Efficient, intelligent, mature. Everything you would expect from a 5th year starter.
– If his counterpart for Michigan (Rudock) had done the same, things might have looked much different at the end of the night. Rudock missed two TD throws which were even more costly than the pick-6
+ Britain Covey looked like he’ll have no problems transitioning despite his diminutive size. The kid is simply a star. Good at everything around the game from warmups to post game interviews.
– a 5’9″ debutant true freshman was the best receiver for Utah in this game on a national stage. Still need that position group to step up.
+ Devontae Booker didn’t exactly get going on the ground, but he finished even his short runs and was Utah’s second-leading receiver
– The O-Line, who I expected to be a strength for Utah, this year, did not prove to be that against a VERY physical Michigan front-7. Particularly in the first half, they got beat up. Need to be better for Booker to excel.
+ The MUSS was loud, Rice-Eccles has a new attendance record, and a National TV broadcast showcased the winning atmosphere of America’s most beautiful CFB stadium to a few million viewers.
– Social media is blowing up with that poor girl holding the “D-fence” sign sniffing her own armpit. (not really a huge negative… pretty awesome actually)
+ The Utes are 1-0, with a pretty clear picture of what needs to improve before next Friday’s matchup with the Aggies
– Expectations are so high that some fans are already panicking over those areas that need improvement. Deep breath. USU had their own struggles, and we can expect improvement between week 1 and week 2.