September 3, 2010

Utah beats Pittsburgh 27-24 - My Postgame Thoughts

What an amazing season opener!  It took me an hour to fall asleep after that game!  Utah sure likes to play with fire, but they ended up pulling it out in the end, thanks to some key plays.  This game felt like Oregon State or TCU a la 2008, except it was the first game of the season.


(1) Papa Smurf.  Jereme Brooks was in full papa smurf form last night, looking quicker than ever.  He was killing it over the middle and broke off some good runs, including this 46 yarder.  He had two touchdowns where he was able to get wide open. (1 , 2).  Lucky that we didn't get called for a pick play on number two.  That's the exact play that lost us the TCU game a few years back.  Brooks finished with 5-85-2TD's.  Not a bad nights work.

(2) Devonte Christopher aka "Count."    Perhaps the biggest surprise was Devonte Christopher.  He's had a long road to get where he is.  Devonte was recruited and competed to play as a quarterback out of High School.  After being listed too far down the depth chart, the coaches tried him at receiver, and after last night's performance, it's easy to see why.  He finished with 8 receptions for 155 and a TD.   He had two BIG plays, one he almost could have turned into a touchdown, and another beautiful slant where he just turned the burners on.

(3).  Utah's Offensive Line.  This should really be the number one positive.  A few facts:  Pitt led the nation in sacks last year and returned their two starting DE's, including all-american candidate Greg Romeus who eats opposing quarterbacks for breakfast.  Enter John Wayne Cullen (no joke about Wayne).  He holds Romeus all night without a sack (or even a knockdown I think), and the OL as a whole allows 0 sacks, despite 39 passing attempts from Jordan Wynn.  This OL is going to be a good one.  I'm not sure I even remember a false start, impressive especially during the first game.

(4) Utah's Defensive Line.    This was perhaps the group I expected the most from, considering the talent and depth the Utes have.  They didn't dissappoint.  Things looked sketchy early when Dion Lewis took his first carry for 18 yards.  But after that,  he only gained 57 yards on 24 carries the rest of the night . . . a whopping 2.4 YPC.  As a whole, Utah held Pitt to 84 total rushing yards on the night.  Junior Tui'one was a big surprise, putting a lot of pressure up the middle.  Pitt is a physical, run heavy team, and Dion Lewis is one of the best backs the Utes will face all season.  There is reason to be optimistic about Utah's defense again this year.  As a whole, the D gave up 266 yards.  About 40 of them came on a busted coverage that proved critical in Pitt's comeback.

Honorable Mention:  Brandon Burton.  Except for the blown coverage (which I think was actually the safety's fault), 6'0" Brandon Burton absolutely blanketed 6'5" star receiver Jon Baldwin.

The Bad:

(1)  Shakey Smithson.  What can I say?  An epic fail by a Sr. Wide Receiver who I expected to be the #2 WR on this team.  (Thank you DVC for picking up the slack).  He had two turnovers in the first quarter.  Not acceptable.   After he botched a punt return, he was officially in the doghouse.  Hopefully he can get his act together and see if he still appears on the depth chart top 3.

(2) Special Teams.  NOT SPECIAL.   Note to Jay Hill . . . either find someone who can field punts, or let's just not field them.  Honestly we should just let the ball bounce and start where it stops.


Utah was the better team last night, without question.  They went down 7-0 early, and was one play short of going into the half up 21-7, despite having 3 turnovers.  The defensive line could give some teams major problems this year . . . I'm pretty giddy about that group.  In all, Utah has 3 turnovers and a blocked punt inside their own 20, plus one MAJOR blown coverage for a TD, yet still pull out the win.  They outgain Pitt 405-266 in total yards and for the most part control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball.  The bad news is the Utes shot themselves in the foot so many times last night.  The good news is that none of the problems are unfixable (i.e. lack of talent or athleticism).  They are all mistakes that can be fixed, hopefully sooner than later.

Next up:  The first game of the MWC farewell tour.  UNLV.

blog comments powered by Disqus