Utah’s season opens up Thursday night against the Thunderbirds of Southern Utah in what should be the beginning of a season filled with high hopes and big expectations from Kyle Whittingham’s squad. There is optimism that the Utes have solidified their quarterback position after years of mediocre play. Troy Williams looks the part, acts the part, and from what we’ve see so far in practice, plays the part. If this team is going to take the next step, they appear to have a player at quarterback that has the potential to lead them there.
Kyle Whittingham and his crew have a few goals for Thursday night’s affair:
- Win the game. This is obviously priority #1 as we’ve seen FCS teams each and every year take down various FBS programs. A Whittingham led team isn’t the type that drops those games. Utah is too prepared and too physical to allow this to happen.
- Develop a cohesiveness and rhythm for the offense. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but a balanced attack, especially in the passing game is important against an inferior opponent. There may be some early jitters, but Williams and company should be able to have their way against SUU, completing 70% of their passes and going over 300 yards.
- Win the turnover battle. The only way that Southern Utah hangs around is if Utah turns the ball over. If the Utes protect the football, and force a few of their own, they’ll win this thing by 50+.
- Stay healthy. This goes without saying as Utah needs their priority players to stay injury free if they want to make a strong run at a Pac 12 title. That starts in game 1. A big lead early that allows the starters to rest in the second half is a Kyle Whittingham dream.
- Clean Football. A game with minimal mistakes means that next week is spent prepping for BYU instead of cleaning up the errors from this matchup. They don’t have to be perfect, but assignment sound football is the goal.
The Utes should be able to have their way against the Thunderbirds and I don’t expect anything otherwise. After a slow start, they’ll get things rolling in the second quarter as Troy Williams eventually throws for over 200 yards and 2 touchdowns, completing 70+ percent of his passes. Joe Wiliams hits the 100 yard mark early in the 3rd quarter and the defense is as stout as ever in forcing 3 turnovers. Tyler Huntley and Troy McCormick have steady second half performances as the Utes run away with it by a score of 59-10.
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