Our own Longball was at the stadium in Salt Lake on Saturday night. Here is his “at the scene” recap:
First off, I got to watch the replay on TV last night and I gotta tell ya, the TV does not do justice to the weather situation. Some of the most clutch drives of the night were right into the face of stiff winds. I saw more than one hat leave the stadium on a gust of wind and the rail next to us was covered in ponchos and garbage that had blow across the stands and stuck in it.
There were a few throws by both Halladay and Wilson that on TV looked like big misses with receivers and QB not being on the same page, but seeing it live I remember them appearing to just really sail off target in the wind. On the deep ball Charleston White batted down late, Wilson threw it a bit short because he slipped on the turf as he released the ball. It was just a terrible night to be throwing and that really favored Utah so much that it makes the outcome even more astounding and Connor Halladay’s performance even more impressive!
Our defense was terrific, but good lord does Utah play things by the book. They call their offense like an NFL team; they throw on throwing downs and run on running downs. They punt on 4th and inches, and so on. I really think this works if you are “Stanford good”, but Utah simply needs more from their offense if they want to make a move in this league. In a lot of ways, weather aside, they were the perfect team to make a comeback against because they really shut things down when they got that lead.
I was also struck by how much our players were tip-toeing around early in the game. It looked like it took the better part of the first quarter for us to get comfortable with the footing and start playing really aggressive and fast.
Riding to the stadium on Trax I heard Ute fans talking big about how they could win the South. You can imagine the hubris in that stadium when it was 21-0. The disillusionment of that fan base as we left the stadium was something to behold. They tumbled so far, emotionally, in such a short time that I genuinely felt bad for them.
It was pretty awesome to see this team stay calm, confident and resilient.I was not any of those things, that’s for sure.
There was a point in the first quarter where everything had gone horribly wrong and I was surprised to see D. Brown bouncing around, running his mouth at the Ute receviers. And it occurred to me… despite the score this defense has hardly been on the field at all and are still confident. No comeback can happen without the defense holding the fort and god did they ever. They were just nails the final 3 quarters.
Another thing to add, not to get too into amateur psychologist mode here, but from the demeanor of both teams beginning in the 3rd quarter, it really appeared like all the pressure was on Utah. I would somewhat attribute the drops you saw to a combination of the weather and good old fashioned yips on the part of receivers. I don’t think it took too long for the Utes to realize that despite the score, they were getting out played everywhere. Also, when you have 39 completions in a game a dropped pass is a lot less significant than it is for the team that only has 18 completions. Each one of their throws is just so important to their offensive game plan, it’s just a lot more pressure to execute perfectly under pressure in terrible conditions.
I also think Halladay and River Cracraft may want to avoid the state of Utah for a few years at least. They are amongst the least popular people here at the moment.
Now we have Sutra’s nightmare game with bowl eligibility still very real possibility. Probably not a lot of sleep in the Sutra compound this week.