So how is it that Utah football has put more players in the NFL than anyone else in our conference since 2014, and yet we can’t win big games?
Talent. They have better top end talent. That’s slowly changing. But it’s true.
Because the other teams scored more points? Do I win the prize?
This. We still haven’t had great WR talent or QB talent. With a dominant player at WR and QB and the Utes would win those big games.
I agree here. But I also expect that to change in the next few years.
Beer. We need better beer.
Seriously, it’s something we have seen with both football and basketball - the talent gap. We have had coaches who have coached up our teams to be very good; but without some key elite talent, they tend to fall to the elite teams. (Paging “Them“ and U$uCk…you can throw in Bevo here too).
Like Urban used to say, “Everyone’s #1’s are competitive with everyone else’s #1’s. Where teams lose games is if the #2’s and #3’s can’t fill the shoes of the #1.”
Though our gap is closing, there is still a gap that some teams can exploit.
Disagree. It is because we score fewer points.
I’ll try to give a serious answer. Most of our draftees are not in the top 2 rounds and end up fighting to stay on the roster for the 3 or 4 years that they are able to stay on rosters. This tells me that while we have hard working kids and coaches, we have not been able draw enough top-shelf NFL talent. This shows when we play those programs that do draw that talent. When the kids in those programs are motivated to play, they still are bigger, stronger, faster and more athletic at most positions than our kids although the gap is narrowing. You cannot tell me that USC played with the same intensity against BYU as they did against the U last year. Oregon and Texas also appeared to be playing at a different level of intensity in the games against Utah a year ago than in other games where I watched them.
Remember when La Tendress (sp?) was the third best (behind Warren and Savoy) receiver on the team? (And Alex Smith throwing to them of course)
No wonder we won every game we played that season
Until 2018 there was no reason for a 4* WR (or even a 3* who wanted to have a chance to be a real factor in the offense) to come to Utah if he had other options where he would have that chance.
Maybe this is one of those cart-before-the-horse scenarios. If the Utes had dominant WRs, we would have thrown the ball more. Also, beside WSU every team in the PAC is a run first offense. The guy I go to games with is convinced Utah couldn’t recruit great receivers because we never threw the ball but usually the matchups between the PAC DBs and the Ute WRs was a bad one for the Utes. Hopefully we can change that.
I think Uteopia has the question nailed.
The other way to look at this is how things go when we play BYU. We’ve had some close games with them, there’s no question they’re extremely motivated and work their butts off getting prepped for the game.
And we’ve had some games where we were still waiting for the offense to come together, or we’re replacing starters or we’ve just won the PAC South with our backup QB & RB and were flat, or whatever.
But when the scoreboard turns to 0:00, who has won those games?
I think we’re closing the gap with the top 15 programs, and the gap between us and BYU is widening.
You may be right. Still, I remember during our first five or six years in the new conference, we were always in the bottom three in offensive stats, and in the top two or three, or higher, on defense. I wondered then why any really good wide receiver would want to join a program like that. I’m also sure that other schools who were recruiting against us pointed out how mediocre our office was, and that we changed offensive coordinators almost annually. This is not an attempt to dig up old grievances against Kyle, or to attack or criticize him. I’m just reflecting on the reality of what the program must have looked like to recruits (and their patents) in those days. I do think we may have turned a corner with the addition of Ludwig. Great things may be in store for us.
A really short answer to this is that NFL talent does not always translate to college level success. Winning a big college game can be done by a group of no NFL level talent vs a group with multiple NFL caliber players, simply by how they play.
On another note, since 2014, how many first round NFL guys have we had? I think there’s a big gap between a top 10 NFL guy and the others who are selected later and in rounds 2-7. A top 10 level QB can carry a college team to many victories, even if his supporting cast is not NFL level… I’d argue even moreso than 5-7 NFL caliber DL/LB’s/DB’s that go in the late rounds (which is Utah’s scenario).
I remember one of the losses to Wazzu was by 7 points. One of the Ute WRs had not one, but two passes bounce right off his hands only to be picked off and returned for TDs. Those early years in the PAC, the WRs just weren’t good enough. They are getting better but I still say the only reason the Utes didn’t throw more was because the WRs just weren’t getting open. A lot of the blame put on Travis Wilson should have been put on the WRs.
Interesting that now we have Ludwig back we seem to be drawing more interest from those high end players. Makes you wonder what our trajectory would have been like had he stayed.
Maybe back then we didn’t know how good we had it with Andy.