I’m in no way saying they wouldn’t be successful in the PAC-12, but what I am saying is that there is a toll on a team through the brutal conference schedule we have. I see three teams with losing records left on our schedule but I can also say that none of them are patsies and none are going to be gimmies.
But the known factor and what has taken a loooong time for us to get competitive like we are is developing the depth so that 2nd string isn’t a massive drop-off from from the first string, which frankly wasn’t true of the Utes in the past.
All I am saying is that we benefited in the past from the good teams we played of having virtual rest games in between, which we don’t have now. This BYE week is a godsend because right now we need it. Huntley is hurt, Moss is playing but he is obviously hurt and I’m sure there is a lists of other injuries that we don’t even know about.
Here is another way to look at it. This season we lost a star receiver in Britian Covey to redshirt to recover and hopefully be 100% next year. Have we seen a drop-off with our receivers at all? Not really. (And don’t get me wrong, I’m excited to have him back - but we’ve been fine).
Conversely, in 2004 we had Paris Warren and Steve Savoy and losing either of those guys would have been pretty devastating.
If Alex Smith or Brian Johnson get hurt in either of those seasons, we are toast. Huntley has been hurt, and Shelley is serviceable - its harder but we can win still.
Maybe another way to look at it is if 2019 Utah played either of those teams each week for a season straight up - who would have the most complete team at the end? It seems obvious to me. In my mind and 11-1 season in a P5 conference is on par with an undefeated season in G5.
One more, in 2008 do we REALLY believe that if we played Bama 5x we’d beat them even a majority of the times? I don’t. If anyone wasn’t watching that Bama team try to stage a comeback after being down 21 and didn’t feel the pucker of reality set in, I don’t think they knew what they were watching.
And yeah, I get this is all speculation. But like I said I think the core difference between 2019 Utes and those other teams is really the ‘next man up’, and seeing the brutal schedule we play each year now, that next man up is pretty critical.
In fact, I’m willing to concede that the 2004 Utes first string was better than 2019, but making it all the way to the end intact would have been some kind of miracle and if normal injury took place with that team that you expect in P5 play, the last games of the season 2019 would be winning.
(And for the record, this is just fun for me to speculate, but I acknowledge it is pointless. I’d love to get Whittingham in a private conversation and ask him his thoughts on this though).