Monday, November 12, 2007

Utah 50, Wyoming 0

I'm not sure where to start with this one... First of all, Wyoming's coach gauranteed a win against Utah while talking to students last Monday. This obviously angered Utah (and Coach Whittingham especially - he should have been happy after the game, but he was on one) and Utah came to pay a bit of revenge. Utah played a fantastic game, but took a few minutes getting started. After Wyoming tried a fake punt in the first quarter (on their own 25 yard line) Utah used a modified version of the old fumblerooski play (watch for it in the video below) to score from 25 yards out.

This game seemed to be a throwback to the Urban Meyer days. Everything was working out, there were a bunch of "trick" plays, the defense was fantastic and Utah could have kept up with anyone in the country playing the way that they were. They were up 40-0 going into the half (and they threw an interception in the end zone in the last minute of the first half - they should have had another TD...). The best play of the game was probably a faked punt by Utah where Louie Sakoda (the punter) faked his kicking motion before tossing the ball (like a girl, I might add) across the line to a defensive lineman who ran the ball down to the 1 yard line (it was actually a touchdown, but the officials had already reviewed three calls and Utah wasn't afraid that they wouldn't score - so it wasn't reviewed).

There's a bit of controversy brewing over the game as well. Utah tried an onsides kick in the third quarter when they were up 43-0. While I don't condone his (Whittingham's) actions, I do think it was a good time to practice an onsides kick, but not a very sportsmanlike thing to do. Utah failed at the attempt (because they retrieved the ball at the 9.5 yard line and a guy was offsides). This gave Wyoming their best field position of the day (on the 34.5 yard line) and they still couldn't convert. This same attempt prompted Wyoming's Coach Joe Glenn to give the Utah bench the one-fingered salute. I've got to agree that the call was inappropriate and I think that Whittingham agrees, stating after the game that he regrets his decision.

The meat of this controversy is actually being fueled more by BYU fans than it is by Wyoming fans (I'm not saying that they aren't mad, but from visiting everybody's fan boards, that's the feeling I get). This is often the case and is something that drives me nuts. It goes both ways, Utah fans are angered more by things BYU does than the teams they are playing against and vice versa. The good news is that this (mainly the one-fingered salute) is giving the conference more attention than they've had all year and it's the first time that I've seen a MWC team featured on ESPN's homepage. Thanks Wyoming.

As for running up the score, I think that Utah's attempt on fourth and 2 in the fourth quarter should be viewed as more an attempt of running up the score than their failed onsides kick (you can't score on an onsides kick). Either way, Utah only scored 10 points in the second half, compared with Boise State's 21 points in the second half against Utah State (where BSU won 52-0) or John [from the comments I learned that I accused the wrong Beck. It should be Jason Beck here] Beck's TD pass to Harline in the latter-half of the fourth quarter against the Aggies last year (where BYU won 38-0 or something). In this game, Utah had pulled their offensive starters for the fourth quarter (although Mack only needed 3 yards to set a Utah record at consecutive 100-yard games). I really don't think that Utah was intentionally running up the score in the second half though (you better believe that they were in the first). I know that there are a lot of people out there who probably disagree, and that's ok. I'm certainly not condoning Utah's actions because I think that there are things that both teams regret.

Utah is easily the best team in the conference right now. They are running the ball, passing the ball and playing defense like its nobody's business. They haven't allowed a team into the end zone in 10 quarters. Wyoming had the 6th ranked defense in the country going into the game with Utah and Utah put up over 500 yards (while limiting the Cowboys to 122 - and 1/3 of those came in the fourth quarter).

You're not going to find me garaunteeing any wins though. As good as Utah is playing right now, they seem to have a knack for having big letdowns under Coach Whit. If they can keep the same intensity that they've had the last few weeks then everybody better watch out!

Yes, I've categorized this post under "rant" because that's exactly what I've done.


Ryan said...

I think I'm stereotyping people too much. I knew you were a Mormon as soon as I saw your location...

Alison Squire said...

I don't recall hearing Whit saying he regretted the onside kick. I just remember him saying that a team shouldn't shut down in the 3rd quarter. I agree, but the main purpose of an onside kick is to get the ball back so you can score points. I don't think the Utes were trying to run up the score (they only scored 10 points in the 2nd half), but I do think it's offensive to use your opponent as "practice". :) Good review. I agree with you about BYU and Utah fans. I'm succumbing to that as we speak (or type). Hopefully Utah used all their trick plays up. At least teams should expect the faked punts by now, since they pull one of those out almost every game.

By the way, who's Ryan?

Sam said...

Nice win. Always fun to be the Cowboys.
For one of my classes a few of us have started a blog, It follows the health care plans of Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards. Part of our grade is how much people comment. You are politically savvy, as is Allison, and I was hoping that you guys could visit and respond to the posts. Let other people know! Hope all is well!

Rummage said...

I did not watch the game, but have heard enough about it that I will post my opinion.

Coach Whittingham obviously used coach Glenn’s “guarantee” as bulletin board fodder. I heard a lot of Utah players reference “the guarantee” in post-game interviews. Even the Utah fans were chanting GUAR-RAN-TEE at the end of the game. If you treat this as an isolated incident, than you can credit coach W for rallying the troops. He played the disrespect card, and his players responded by giving the Cowboys a whooping.

However, I do not think that playing on emotion is a sustainable coaching technique. You cannot play at a high level week in and week out when your emotions are fed by bulletin board fodder. The team may play incredible in key games, but there will eventually be a let down game. UNLV? I think Ron McBride was this type of coach. His teams would always play their best in the big game, but sometimes struggle in games against weaker opponents. Successful coaches help their teams manage a consistently high level of play. Urban Meyer was one of those coaches.

My other concern is that coach W needs to know when to quit. In the post-game interview he continued to make reference to “the guarantee”. When most coaches would say, that “the guarantee” was no big deal, and that he was just proud of how his boys played, coach W kept going on and on about how people have to take responsibility for their words.

I want to see coach Whittingham succeed. I know he is still a relatively young head coach, so I hope he will learn. Unfortunately I suspect New Mexico will win on Saturday playing a let down Utah team. I would not bet on the Utes in Wyoming next year either.

Clark said...

Obviously both coaches could have acted better, but I wish to make this point:

Coach Whittingham took specific action that was out of the norm to provide that slap in the face. I'm sure the kickoff team has default instructions to kick it deep, and only tries an onside kick when specifically told to. He did something out of the ordinary, apparently as a slap in the face to Coach Glenn. This is like calling a time out with 3 seconds left in the 4th quarter to make sure you push a winning margin from 17 to 24 points. It's going out of your way to kick someone when he's down.

As for guarantees, I plan my own blog post about that shortly.

Sabrina said...

Frankly, I was not impressed and have yet to really be on the Whittingham bandwagon. I would have to agree with the previous poster that he is using emotion to get wins out his team, which explains their inconsistency. He needs to genuinely earn his players' respect and get them to work hard every week, not just get pumped up about a "guarantee" or a rivalry, etc.

Brett said...

A quick couple of notes:

The Utes in most sports (except women's gymnastics) are like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get as far as performance on a given day or a given season goes.

John Beck didn't play against Utah State, that was Jason Beck. I can't blame him too much for making the most of his only moment in the spotlight all year.

Kyle coaches without keeping his emotions in check, so does Joe Glenn. It's a different style and will lead to calls (or fingers) that probably shouldn't happen. It's part of life for fans of those teams.

BYU fans overreacted to this incident. Many go out of their way to find any reason to rag on the Utes. The ragging goes both ways, but the Utes feel free to drop the F-bomb. (Sabrina would like me to point out she's been mooned by BYU fans AND flipped off while working for KALL 700, the most biased reporting I've ever heard)

tysqui said...

From the weeks teleconference between the coaches and media: click here

(ps. I've noted the change between Jason Beck and John Beck in my original post. I think that is important to note. Thanks Brett)