I'd like to preface this by noting that I don't think I could ever admit to being satisfied with a loss. That said, this was a loss that leaves me with hope for the rest of the season. Granted, things started off in fairly ugly fashion, and we got plenty of help from Utah, but I left the game with the impression that the team will improve from game to game, and we could have a very satisfactory season.
A few things I noted during the game are as follows, and anyone who saw it on TV and had a better view is welcome to clarify.
- The freshmen, true and redshirt, showed a good deal of promise. McGuffie had some bright moments, and Threet made some fairly respectable throws. Considering how many players were seeing their first time on a college field, any offensive production would have been a success, and I was pleased that we were at least able to put ourselves in a position to win the game.
- The O-Line was not the unmitigated disaster that many were predicting. This isn't to say that they were good, but our QBs stayed largely upright. Creating holes for the running game is going to be something they need to work at, but I have little doubt that they will improve along with the rest of the team.
- The defense was really disappointing in the first half. For a unit that was supposed to be keeping us in games, I would have liked to see more than one punt from Utah in the first half. Keeping this in mind, I was very please with how they responded to whatever adjustments or coaching Schaeffer leveled at them during half-time. They came out in the second half with Utah's number firmly in hand. If they can start games out like that, the offense will have opportunities to put points on the board rather than watching epically long drives by our opponents from the sideline.
- Something of an addendum to the previous point, I was impressed with the fitness level we showed, particularly in the last couple of Utah drives. I might be accused of "drinking the chocolate milk," but even after spending ALOT of time on the field in the first half, the defense convincingly outplayed the Utes, who were looking pretty sluggish by the end.
- Finally, I have to say that I was impressed by the attitude and enthusiasm displayed by the crowd. Especially in the first half, it was not an easy game to get really excited about, but the crowd (in the student section at least) kept the volume pretty high. In the fourth quarter, when we were starting to come back to life, there were several times when it got quite loud. Even though this one slipped away from us, the general impression I got was that the people understood that it wasn't the end of the world, and we just have alot of growing pains we need to work out.
All in all, I know we all would have really liked a win, but I don't think we have anything to be embarrassed about in this loss. In the end, we saw alot of young players with alot of potential, and I can't wait to see how they do next week.