Utah Game Pick

Can't you see I'm trying to pee here???

Hello Followers.  Hope you’ve had a great week.

After being the Lone Ranger in picking the Cougs to beat Arizona last week..

I found myself walking around the compound with an unusual amount of swagger for a late November.

And that swagger remained until about Wednesday of this week after I had a chance to see and read a bit more about the Utah Utes.  And then I started to get really, really, REALLY stinking nervous.

So, if you want to check out my “final answer” for what’s going to happen in this season’s penultimate contest, click on the jumperoo..

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Followers, if we’ve learned anything about our Cougars through 10 weeks of the year, we know this:

1)      If you want to blow up our defense, all you need to do is be able to throw the ball down field.

2)      If you want to beat our offense, all you need to do is pressure the heck out of Connor and play really physical man/press coverage on our Wide Receivers.

And because knuckleheads like myself know these two keys like the back of my hand, you can bet your bottom dollar that great coaches like Kyle Whittingham know it to.  The question is, does Utah have the horses to pull it off?

And when you look at their defense, one has to think that the answer is a resounding “Maybe.”  On the plus side (if you’re a Utah fan), the Utes have a defense that ranks first in the country in sacks and is among the top 10 in tackles for loss.  On the minus side, they are below average when it comes to pass efficiency defense.  The implication:  Utah will get to us—because they bring it.  But, they may not get to Connor and company as often as they need to.  The other issue:  One of the reason why Utah’s pass defense has been pretty good is that their run defense has been EXCELLENT, especially at home against noteworthies like Stanford, UCLA, and Arizona State.  So, part of the reason why their sack numbers are high is that they’re pretty good at putting running teams in third and long.

On the offensive side, well, gone is the wildly inconsistent—but nonetheless VERY talented Travis Wilson. What remains now for the Utes is an offensive line that has played decent, along with a couple of very talented skill position guys.  Chief among this talented group of players is Dres Anderson who heretofore shall be known simply as “Sutra’s worst nightmare.”

I mean, Dr. Dres has all of the tools and intangibles:  He’s tough, he’s lightning fast, he has great hands, and he has a good flare for the big stage.  In other words,  whenever #6 touches the ball tomorrow, we can all say “Look Out!”

The downside to Utah’s offense is that their running game has been suspect and is even more so with Wilson sidelined.  So, if Utah plans to play ball control against us, they are going to be in for a long, long day at the office.

But they won’t.

Instead, I fully expect Utah to come out tomorrow and try to throw the ball all over the field! And so, for me, the outcome of the game can be distilled into a few simple questions:

1)      Will we be able to put pressure on Utah’s quarterback?

( If we do, you can expect that Utah will have a very, very hard time scoring enough points to win and/or keep the game close)

2)      Will our receivers be physical enough to get off of jams?   And if they are, will they catch the ball—especially in critical 3rd and 5 and 3rd and 8 situations?

3)      Will our young men come out of the gate poised and ready to get after it?  Or will they be overhyped and/or distracted by the small crowd that will greet them on Senior Day?

Granting the importance of all of these question, the last seems to be the most critical for tomorrow's outcome   Because the only way that I see the Utes winning this game is if they come out and do EXACTLY what we did to Arizona last week.  Namely, get a bit of a lead and establish an effective offensive tempo early.  Do that, and the conditions will be right for Connor and company to press, for our defense to lose their assignments, and for our bowl hopes to be squashed in the process.

But if Utah doesn’t come out of the gate quickly, then I think that this game will be there for the taking.  Because as good as Utah is defensively, they aren’t better than any of the teams we’ve already played.  And as we’ve seen in those games, even when we’ve played poorly, we’re still scoring around 24 points a game.

So, in the end, I’m banking on the fact that the offense “found it” last week and that our receivers and running backs will play physical and protect the ball.  And I’m also banking on a USC-game style defensive performance where our D-Line pressures and/or hurries the quarterback while our Double Teams keep Des Anderson silent for most of the night.

And in the end, I’m calling for a “comfortable” Cougar victory tomorrow night in a 23-13 game that will be much lower scoring affair than what most folks seem to be predicting.  COUGS GO BOWLING!

Elsewhere:

Oregon State 38 Washington 35.  You know the old if it “looks like Duck, talks like a Duck, walks like a Duck, sounds like a Duck” saying?  Well, it kind of applies to the UW and road games.  And until such time that Sark and company can lay the wood to an opponent on the road, why should anyone pick them?  Certainly not me this week.

UCLA 38  Arizona State 28.  I’ve been saying this for weeks:  I’m not sold on ASU’s run defense.  And while UCLA will surely find a way to make this interesting until the end, ASU is going to end up a three or four loss team. And when you see how talented they are, it makes you realize how stinking hard it is to win 9 games in this conference!

Oregon 56  Arizona 17.   You know the old it “looks like Duck, talks like a Duck, walks like a Duck, sounds like a Duck” saying?  Well, guess what? The Ducks are back!!!!!!!!!!

USC 45 Colorado 17.   Mike Mac will have the Buffs ready for this one and I fully expect SC to come out a bit flat early.  But by game’s end, USC’s size and speed will take over.  And it won't be pretty.  I’m so glad I don’t care!

Stanford 44 CAL 10.  One and eleven never tasted so good, right?  Have a nice off-season losers!!!!

Enjoy the game!  And let’s hope the Seniors go out in style!!!!

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