Countdown to the Utah game

Submitted by tigersjunkie on August 18th, 2008 at 6:26 PM

So here we are 12 days before we kickoff against Utah.  I just had some thought about the game.  First off, I am from Michigan but live in Utah right now.  I follow Utah football only because they are a rival of the university I graduated from (BYU).  Because of my ties to BYU, Utah is right up there next to tOSU and ND for the teams I hate most.

Having watched Utah over the past few years the one thing that concerns me about the upcoming game is that Utah seems to play its best against the toughest competition.  As much as I hate to say it, I believe that Utah could give us problems, although I don't believe that we will lose.  We just can't overlook them.  With that said, Utah is the most inconsistent team I have ever seen, with State being a close second.  Last year they beat the 11th ranked UCLA team 44-6 at home and then the very next week they lost to a terrible 2-10 UNLV team 27-0!!!  Here is a little preview of what to expect...I expect Brian to post something along these lines, but I just wanted to put in my two cents.

QB- Brian Johnson-5th year senior...Johnson when healthy is a very good quarterback.  He is mobile, accurate and very poised.  The problem with Johnson is that he hasn't been healthy.  In their opening game last year he went down with a separated shoulder.  His arm strength was never the same.  If we can pressure him and hit him he gets rattled.

RB- Darrell Mack (Sr.) and Matt Asiata (Jr.) Mack is a very solid back.  He has a pretty good combination of speed and power (more speed, less power).  Most of his yards come on the outside.  Asiata broke his leg in the first game last year and missed the rest of the year.  When healthy he is a power back.  Hard to say because I haven't seen him play, but for what it is worth (not much I know) he was a JUCO all-american. 

WR/TE- They have to replace 2 of their top three receivers from last year and their top returning receiver is TE.  Although arguably their best receiver on the team (Brent Casteel) tore his knee up last year and only played in their first game.  As a group they are solid.  No one is spectacular, but they catch the ball.  They find open space.  They don't have a ton of experience but they are solid.

OL-They return 2 starters from their OL.  As we all know, experience is the key.  They might have more depth than we do here, but once again, they are young and inexperienced as a whole.

P/K-Louis Sekoda-  This guy is money and one of the best in college football in both place kicking and punting.

Offense as a whole--They run a passing spread offense.  Occasionally they will run the option.  Their offense is based on short quick passes.  There aren't a lot of deep patterns or yards after the catch.  Johnson is mobile and has enough speed to run and get some good yardage.  He is accurate as well, so their offense has the potential to methodically move the ball down the field eating up a lot of clock.  The one thing that their offense is based off of is the gimmick play.  They run 3-4 gimmicky plays every game (fake punt, reverse passes, etc.) and are normally very successful when they do run these.  So we can expect them to throw a ton of these at us during the game.

Defense

DL- This has traditionally been their strongest unit.  They return 2 of last year's starters.  They normally line up in a 4-3.  They lost their best Dlinemen last year so they are hoping some young guys step it up.

LBs- They lost almost all of their LBs last year due to graduation.  They don't have a leader of their defense and once again are hoping their young unproven players can pick it up.

DBs- They lost their best DB last year, but they return 3 starters.  This is their strength this year.  McCain is their best corner and he is solid.  They have pretty good speed and big play potential.

Defense Overall--They are young and inexperience up front.  This is a big plus for us.  But they always have a solid defense.  Not sure how much we want to pass on them, but we should be able to get a bunch on the ground.  Hopefully our speed gives us that extra advantage.

Everyone here in Utah is giving Michigan no chance.  Brian has already addressed this a little bit, but Michigan is not getting any respect.  GO BLUE!!!!

Comments

Blue Durham

August 19th, 2008 at 10:50 AM ^

Good to get a little insight from someone who is close to the opponent. I would do this for Duke, but Michigan doesn't play Duke and I don't bother watching Duke games.

Everyone here in Utah is giving Michigan no chance.

That's stunning if true for a game played in Ann Arbor.  Michigan will not be looking past Utah as it is the first game of the Rodriguez staff at Michigan. The players will want to prove themselves to RR and make his first outing a good one. The team will be ready to play this one.

Onas

August 19th, 2008 at 11:06 AM ^

Most pundits are predicting this to be a definite Utah win (in some cases using such convincing phrases as "Book it!" and "Write it down!") because of three simple things:

1. Utah is good,

2. Michigan is in transition, and

3. Michigan got upset in game one last year.

When you actually weight the strengths of each team and throw out that lingering Appalachian State memory, which in reality only serves to motivate Michigan, it's hard to imagine the Utes winning with ease. Let's not forget that they travel to Ann Arbor to face a team with more talent (albeit unproven) and an offensive scheme that will be completely unexpected.

Think back. How did App. State beat Michigan? The Wolverines didn't respect them (even as they were losing to them!) and the Mountaineers knew exactly what to expect from the Michigan offense. Sloppy, unprepared defensive play did the rest. This year Michigan will be ready for Utah defensively and will be anything but predictable on offense.

Players always say that the next game is the most important. I believe it when I hear it from Michigan players regarding Utah. I'm absolutely positive that, right now, this game is more important that anything else to them.

tigersjunkie

August 21st, 2008 at 12:49 PM ^

Sorry but I don't know Spencer Britton.  If it makes you feel any better, my uncle in Ann Arbor knew him pretty well when Spencer was still at Michigan. 

That is my bad about the returning starters on the OL.  I guess I was looking at the opening day starters from last year...4 returning starters is correct (although I do believe that two of them began starting midway through the season).

Ellipses Man

August 19th, 2008 at 2:47 PM ^

The passing game for us is a worry. If you stack the house against the run and Michigan proves to not be effective at either:

1. Protecting the passer
2. Passer and WR not being in sync
3. Passer is performing/hovering just above awful

It will create more blitz packages and a vote of no confidence in Sheridan, Threet, or well the whole overall passing strategy/attack. Which will be odd considering it is Michigan Football. Most fans won't know what to do on the drive home for conversation if Michigan throws ducks, or for less than 120 yds. The buzz will be,"They can't pass, they can't pass." Whoever is scouting us this comeing weekend will get the full monty on some of the running wrinkles that is for sure. Because it may be most of the offense. The sky is not falling though. They can make strides, but to do that you've got risk it. I hope we do.

Ellipses Man

August 20th, 2008 at 4:50 PM ^

I think if you went to a West Virginia game this year and saw a QB throw for Chad Henne numbers, as a fan you'd be weirded out considering what you've seen in the last few years. As a Michigan fan going to the Utah game, I think you'd be equally weirded out to see a QB throw for next to nothing and run for more. The transition could be weird at first. Not saying anything more than that. A win is a win and so on.

adoddere

August 20th, 2008 at 10:15 AM ^

a ferocious effort from Michigan. If we get that, the rest will take care of itself. We need some offensive experience and a vertical passing threat to beat a Mountain West team by 20, but I think a W is attainable with nothing more than a solid rushing attack and effective defense.

Ellipses Man

August 20th, 2008 at 4:46 PM ^

Former Reggie Bush high school teammate and Urban Meyer coached Utah grad has zero Quarterbacking street credibility.

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- This was not what the San Francisco 49ers envisioned when they made Alex Smith the first player chosen in the 2005 draft.

If the numbers mean anything, this wasn't what the 49ers envisioned as recently as March 3, when they signed quarterback J.T. O'Sullivan for the minimum allowable salary.

O'Sullivan, scheduled to make his third consecutive exhibition start Thursday night, is playing under a one-year deal counting $491,000 against the salary cap. Smith's contract counts 20 times as much, more than $9.9 million.

The gulf reflects the conflict between fading long-term organizational goals and the need for coach Mike Nolan to win right now or lose his job. Nolan doesn't have time to wait for Smith, no matter how much the organization has invested in its franchise quarterback. Nolan can't come out and say so, at times leaving him fumbling for words.

"Well, in our situation that's hypothetical at this point," Nolan said after practice Tuesday. "So, I don't -- that doesn't, we're not dealing with that."

They will eventually. It's tough to see Nolan succeeding in San Francisco without Smith also showing a return on the organization's massive investment. Quarterbacks drafted first overall succeed, or their coaches pay the price.