Match Up: the Utes go on a Husky hunt -- Washington game 2019

What are our inherent advantages? Where is our Achilles heel for Washington?
How do we sceme for Shelly (if needed)
Does the D need to adjust, or do we have a human tsunami (powerful and porous) well in place?

Hope we remain hungry all week
Go UTES!

I’m just hoping that the fact that Chris Peterson seems to have our number doesn’t factor in. Then again Leach also seemed like he’s had our number lately, and we saw how that went.

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This might be the year to break some previously established paradigms.

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Here’s a thread, for those who want to join, for discussion about the biggest game of the season so far. Kragthorpe’s thoughts:

I don’t know what to think about this game. I haven’t seen Washington play, although they have been less consistent than Utah. I think we have reason to be confident, although not cocky — especially if the Utes show up with the eye of the tiger they have had in their last three games.

We lost the CCG 10-3 last year without our starting QB and RB and on a fluke INT. Washington isn’t as good this year and we are better. I like our chances.

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This is not the same UW team of the last few years, but they are still talented and they always play their best football at Husky Stadium.

That being said, if Utah comes anywhere near their overall performances of their last 4 games, I’m confident this should be a “W”.

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I merged this good Washington game thread with another one I had started. I hope it’s a good example of how we can have a single thread talking about a game, prior, during and after it’s over.

Thinking about the matchup that we have with the Huskies and reflecting on our past opponents. Feel free to correct me on any of this but here is kind of what we saw:

Utah Defense: In my opinion this is the best defensive unit as a whole that Utah has ever seen. Our run defense has been stout all season long and I’m struggling to think of anyone who has had even remote success running against us. The one glaring weakness that we saw this year was against our secondary versus USC. My observation is that it was a mix of 50/50 balls not going our way being thrown by a QB that we expected to rattle more than we did. In that game we had our safeties and corners turning to look at the ball for an INT only to have it snatched away by their receivers. It was a bad day for that unit. I’ve heard Whittingham say on a few occasions that the secondary is coached not to turn and look for the ball but to play the receiver. It seems that protocol was broken against USC and we paid for it. Since then that hasn’t happened and some of the best pass breakups I’ve ever seen have happened.

So what came as a concern for the secondary in my mind was remedied by what I think are superior offensive teams in Wazzu and ASU. Even Oregon St had a pretty potent offense in the air that was all but shut down by our secondary. I hope I am not wrong, but I am guessing lessons were learned and we don’t need to look back in that regard. In short, our defense is playing the best ball we’ve ever seen and our opponents are facing a seemingly impossible task of figuring out how to combat that - because if your plan is run heavy you are going to lose, and it appears that going to the air will result in the same.

I’ll also note that our D-line getting into the backfield has been a large contributor to our success in the secondary. Final help to the D is that our time of possession by the offense means they are well-rested.

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On the offensive side - our run game is also elite. A healthy Zach Moss will eventually get his yards and there is not much anyone can do about that. I’ve been impressed by the backups with Brumfield, Wilmore and DHC doing a great job running. None of those guys are the blockers that Moss is though and that is why they aren’t seeing more minutes out there.

All the teams we played through USC seemed to be able to penetrate our O-line pretty readily. Granted the first three games of the year the O-line played straight up without a lot of wrinkles, but USC was a wake up call. My observation is that in the Harding era our O-line always seems to start out as a big question mark and then through the season becomes pretty fantastic. Oregon State’s defense was a joke, so no need to review that. However we contained Cal and ASU very well and seemed to give Huntley ample protection. I think it helps that we are also running a lot more quickly developing passing routes so he isn’t holding the ball too long.

Our WRs are running better routes and holding onto the ball better this season than any. If you spend time watching them this year it is night and day from Taylor and A-rod. Huntley is checking down his options a lot better as well and not instantly going into a run. Further, the TE and RB have been great at getting into space when he has needed to dump quickly. Kuithe has been exceptional and Moss has become one of our best receivers too.

Huntley has been fantastic and as others have mentioned here, he is playing well past what I expected him to be able to do. If he can stay healthy I feel good about every game we play. He keeps this up and he should be getting serious looks from the NFL - and truthfully we might even have a bit of a Kuzma effect with him in the NFL. I can see him excelling there.

As mentioned above, the success on O has really helped the D. Fortunately we also haven’t had to throw a lot of trick plays into the mix as we are simply out executing the opponents. I think that speaks a lot to the mentality of this team and they are reaping the benefits.

Special teams is uncharacteristically average and a change from many years of success there. Fortunately we haven’t had to rely heavily on it thus far, but that may come back to haunt us. Special teams is like free throw shooting in my mind. A good free throw shooting team is going to steal some games they shouldn’t, and the same with special teams. In fact up to this point I think we could rack a number of wins we’ve had primarily to ST. How nice was it it be on the 42 yard line last year and know that we could come away with some points.

One thing that makes me nervous in all of this is that I think that Chris Peterson is a special coach and he knows how to win. Whittingham has excelled in discipline and physicality and exceptional D. He knows the formula for game and clock management, but he does not have that x-factor that Peterson has. I do believe that Ludwig 2.0 might be able to counter that though. But overall, I’ve got to give the coaching edge to Washington.

I think we win this game. If not now, then when? I really don’t know. But if these guys have unfinished business, this week is the week. For the first time this year I am legit excited days in advance for this game.

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I was doing so well with low expectations for this game. Now Rocker has gone and ruined that.

I to think this year’s team is special. One thing I want to mention is the constant pressure we put on opposing QBs. As John Pease likes to say, pressure is more important than sacks. When I watch recordings of games it seems to me that the other team’s QB is almost always uncomfortable in the pocket. That, on top of our run defense, is one element that makes our D a huge problem for our opponents.

Speaking of D line pressure on the QB, I will never forget the sight of Leki Fotu sprinting in a straight line toward the Cal QB, who was desperately trying to outrun Leki. It was like a hungry lion racing to make a kill on a terrified, defenseless young gazelle.

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The Cal QB is probably suffering from PTSD from that little episode with Fotu. One of my favorite interviews with Pease he was asked what he was concerned about on the defense and he said, “Nothing.” End of story. It was hilarious but he was right that year.

It reminds me of James Mattis when asked what kept him awake at night and he said something like, “Nothing. I keep other people awake at night.” I think that is Utah football right now.

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Great points!

The D overall has been lights out however the USC game is a glaring reminder of things not going according to plan. I think the thing that bothers me the most about the USC game was the apparent stubbornness of Scalley to adjust the D and drop 8. He did that at some points but BYU did it most of the game. The outcome may have been the same but it seemed that Scalley learned his lesson vs WSU.

Special teams is a big weakness with this team. Hopefully it doesn’t come down to a long field goal to win it, same thing with punting.

GO UTES!

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“I am the one who knocks!”

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Nicely done Rocker. Two additional comments about the D and more than a few about the O.

On defense, I believe Shah and Scalley have changed how Jaylon Johnson is used. He is man to man on the best receiver now. Also, Utah’s D line and linebackers are doing a much better job this year of containing the edges. Overall we know the D line, and secondary are just better players, well coached and assignment sound.

On offense, that last sentence can be applied. Ludwig has done a better job than past OCs in tailoring the game plan toward the talent Utah has. That one aspect is key, IMHO. This year the OL does a much, much better job of protecting the QB, while on occasion still, they lapse. The QB and WR/TEs are used with remarkable effectiveness, a pleasant surprise. Huntley has much greater vision of the developing plays and makes remarkably fewer mistakes. That’s alot. Utah’s RB are a punishing lot, with Moss being a rare player in his own right. Also, the depth is remarkable, keeping guys fresh, and figuring out how to keep the number of plays to a minimum. The efficiency and conditioning of the players (on both sides of the ball, actually) has kept injuries to a minimum. Few other teams enjoy that at this point.

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I’m just glad Gaskin is gone.

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