The Utah Utes are a quarter of the way through their football schedule and getting set for their first every Pac-12 home game. The Utes will welcome the Washington Huskies into town for homecoming this Saturday. Before we shift all of our attention to the Huskies, lets take a look back at the beginning of the Utes season and who has been the most impressive, disappointing, and surprising.
The Most Impressive
The obvious choice for the most impressive thing about the Utes this season would be the defense. Nobody can deny that Utah has one of the top defensive units in the Pac-12. However, my pick for the most impressive thing about the Utes to this point in the season is their resiliency as a whole. The Utes got down early to USC, and the game could have easily gotten out of hand. Utah held their ground though, and even had a chance to win or tie it in the final minute. Losing that game after fighting so hard, especially on the blocked field goal, must have been heart breaking for the team. They did not let the loss linger though; they quickly moved forward and absolutely demolished rival BYU. Utah easily could have fallen apart much like the Notre Dame game last year. I believe that this Utah team has a new feeling about it and there will be no more games like against TCU the last two years. The Utes will not only be in each game until the very end, but they also will rebound very well after any losses.
The Most Disappointing
The most disappointing unit for the Utes this year is obviously the kicking game. Ute fans were spoiled for so many years having Louie Sakoda and even Joe Phillips to a lesser extent; however, some of the kicking nightmares of the McBride era are coming back. Coleman Peterson is only 4 for 6 on field goals. He struggled in the BYU game missing one from under 30 yards as well as an extra point. The kicking game had a big impact on the USC game, obviously with the block, which is not entirely the kickers fault, but more so because Coach Whittingham didn’t seem to fully trust the kicking game. Utah will be in a lot of close games this year, and every point counts. Stability needs to be found in the kicking game not only to put points on the board, but also to prevent Coach Whittingham for going for it on fourth in obvious field goal situations.
The Most Surprising
Admittedly, John White IV is not a total surprise for those who followed Utes camp closely. For many people however, the running game was a big question for this new Utes offense. John White IV has not only shown that he can shoulder the load, but also that he is very explosive. White is averaging over six yards a run and has accounted for 6 of Utah’s 10 offensive touchdowns. Many people argue that his statistics are not representative because of his long runs in the fourth quarter, but that is exactly how Utah’s offense works. New Offensive Coordinator Norm Chow continues to pound the ball taking the one and two yard gains because he knows that he has a homerun back that will make the defense pay late in the game when they are worn down. White IV is on pace for over 1500 yards and although the Pac-12 schedule may wear him down, I fully believe that he is capable of it.
Overall, Utah is looking to have another great season. We will revisit this topic after six games and the end of the year to track the Utes. For a national take on who has been impressive, disappointing and surprising in college football check out the National College Football Examiner’s roundtable discussion and see which Ute made the conversation.