Thursday, November 25, 2010
Utah vs. BYU
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Utah 38, San Diego State 34
Monday, November 22, 2010
Friday, November 19, 2010
Utah enters the game reeling, losing the last 2 games by a 75-10 margin. Their last 2 game losing streak was 2007 and the last 3 game losing streak was in 2005. Utah will be searching for some answers as they attempt to right the ship on their season.
San Diego State scored 2 late touchdowns to tighten the score in their 35-30 loss to TCU. They have lost 3 games by a total of 11 points and are 4-0 at home this season.
Utah’s Offense vs. SDSU's Defense
3 consecutive poor performances has Jordan Wynn on the hot seat in the eyes of Utah fans. Teams are taking away the crossing routes that are a staple to the Utah attack and Wynn has not adjusted very well. The happy feet that were present early in the season have returned the last 2 weeks. The question is what adjustments will be made. In the ND game, receivers were getting open, but Wynn either did not see them in progression or hesitated to deliver the ball resulting in another interception and multiple incompletions.
San Diego State is ranked 13th nationally in Pass Defense efficiency. They have garnered 9 INT's on the season. They run Rocky Long's 3-3-5 and are led by their senior safties, Andrew Preston(2 INT's) and Darryn Lewis(2 INTs). The Aztecs are second in the conference with 24 sacks led by OLB Miles Burris with 8.0.
If Wynn struggles out of the gate, do not be surprised to see Terrance Cain in the game early this week.
Rocky Long likes to blitz from any position, any situation, and any place on the field. This may play into Utah's hands if they can recognize and pick up the pressure. Utah has struggled against zone coverage this year, but have excelled when their receivers can match up in man to man and make a play with athleticism.
Matt Asiata had a solid game against the Irish with 48 yards on 13 carries, however Eddie Wide had his worst game of the year gaining only 21 yards on 8 carries. Utah again failed to establish a running game against a team that had been gashed frequently through the year.
The Aztecs are susceptible to the run giving up 149.4 yards/game which ranks 55th nationally. The front 3 are undersized averaging 271 pounds. The DLine is led by Sr. DE Ernie Lawson.
The Aztecs have shown a weakness against a straight ahead running attack. Utah has an advantage here, but it will be interesting to see if they try to exploit it.
Utah’s Defense vs. SDSU's Offense
The Ute secondary will face their stiffest challenge to date. Notre Dame did not gain many yards in the air, but they were able exploit the secondary in the red zone, where the scored 3 TD's through the air. TCU and ND have taken advantage of Brian Blechen's aggressiveness with the play action pass, then beating him easily over the top. The corner's played better, keeping the receiver's in front of them.
QB Ryan Lindley is a high risk, high reward player. He is 167-314(53.2%) for conference high 2688 yards. He has 18 TD's and 11 INT's. The Aztecs average a whooping 16.1 yards per reception. This is due to the play of the all conference tandem of Vincent Brown(48-929, 5 TD's) and DeMarco Sampson (47-893, 6 TD's) who both average over 19 yards a reception. The Aztec's will throw long early, often, and without conscious or remorse.
The quick strike component of the Aztecs is a major concern for the Utes as it can offset any attempts to grind the clock.
The Utah defense has continued to be solid against the run giving up 112.6 yards/game which ranks 14th nationally. Chad Manis is listed as starter in the 2 deep this week, but JJ Williams was lost for the rest of the season after reinjuring his foot against the Irish.
SDSU tout one of the best freshman RB's in the nation with Ronnie Hillman(201-1098, 12 TD's). He has home run speed unlike any back that the Utes have faced this season. However, he has been contained several times this season, rushing for less than 70 yards in 5 games. Outside of Hillman, there is little running threat to address, which is reflected in their 64th National Ranking(150.9 yards/game).
Utah should be able to make the Hillman work for any yards he gets, and if they can keep him from taking a long run to the house, they should be able to neutralize the rushing attack of the Aztec's.
Special teams were disasterous for the Ute's last week, basically hand wrapping 14 points to the Irish on a blocked punt and a fumble on a kickoff. These 2 plays doomed the Ute's and until they can show that the punt protection team has figured out their issues, they are a supreme liability.
On paper, this is an even matchup. However, both teams are coming in on opposite trajectories. The Aztec's are in the middle of their finest season in over a decade, and the Utes are limping in following their 2 worst games in the last 4 years. Serious questions surround the offense and the defensive secondary. If Utah cannot muster up a better effort offensively, this one could get ugly.
Utah 14 SDSU 21
Utah @ San Diego State
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Friday, November 12, 2010
Podcast: Notre Dame game preview with Alan Pinkett of the Notre Dame Radio Network, with fans Alan Smith in Texas and Jason Boone
Thursday, November 11, 2010
Updated Power Ranks and PEDM Data
- TCU (28)
- UTAH (48)
- SDSU (59)
- AF (69)
- BYU (90)
- CSU (95)
- WYOMING (118)
- UNLV (124)
- NM (131)
Despite the terrible game, Utah still holds second place in the composite power rankings. Although, after the past two weeks against AF and TCU, they now find themselves closer to SDSU (3rd) than they do to TCU (1st).
As for this coming week against ND, Utah's pass efficiency (158.65) is lower than it has been all season, save one game (UNLV). Entering the game against TCU, Utah enjoyed a +58 PEDM, which has now sunk in a single week to +29.8 PEDM. ND only sits at 5.9, which gives Utah an advantage of +23.94.
To put that number in perspective, we were +40 PEDM over AF.
Utah enters this week coming of an embarassing 47-7 loss at home to #3 TCU. The game was not as close as the final score would suggest as the Utes were dominated in all 4 phases of the game. They look to rebound in their first trip to South Bend.
Notre Dame is coming off a bye after losing their last game to Tulsa 27-28, where they had a last second pass intercepted in the endzone. The Irish lost starting QB Dana Crist for the season in the game as well.
Utah’s Offense vs. Notre Dame’s Defense
QB Jordan Wynn is coming of the worst performance of his short careergoing 16-35 for 148 yds with 1 TD and 2 INT's. Plagued by indecision, heavy pressure, dropped passes, and 3 turnovers, many fans were calling for him to be replaced in the 2nd half. It will be interesting to see how he responds to this much adversity. Will he allow it to affect him the rest of the season? If so, it is safe to say that his long term hold on the starting job could be in jeopardy. Jereme Brooks and DeVonte Christopher continue to be the go to threats for the Utes passing attack.
It is safe to say that Notre Dame has struggled on the defensive side of the ball, but especially against the pass. They give up 228.6 yards/game which ranks 80th nationally. This despite starting 3 seniors in the secondary. FS Harrison Smith and CB Darrin Walls lead the team with 2 picks each.
Look for the Utah passing game to rebound as the receivers should find more space to run and have a speed advantage over the stone footed Irish Secondary.
Utah only gained 51 net yards against the stout TCU defense, but Utah only rushed 16 times(1 sack accounted for -9 yards) and averaged 3.8 yds a carry. The combination of Matt Asiata and Eddie Wide have gained over 1000 yards on the season.
Notre Dame has been scorched on the ground this season giving up 164.6 yards/game. The front 7 has been hit with injuries and has several underclassmen doting the 2 deep. The Irish run a standard 3-4 with ILB Manti Teo as the primary cog. The Sophomore standout has lived up the his recruiting hype as he has collected 100 tackles on the season(11th nationally), but he has had little help from his teammates against the run.
We may see more of Griff Robles in the Read option this week as the Utes look to establish the run against the porous Notre Dame front 7.
Utah’s Defense vs. TCU’s Offense
The Utah pass defense continued its free fall against TCU getting scorched for 381 yards, 4 touchdowns, and 6 pass completions of more than 20 yards, including a 93 yarder in the first quarter that broke the back of the defense. The secondaries woes were punctuated by the lack of any pas rush as Dalton was only hurried on 2 plays and was hit only one time.
Freshman Tommy Rees took over for the injured Crist against Tulsa and performed admirably with a 33-54, 334 yard performance. He threw for 4 TD's, but had 3 costly interceptions, including one in the end zone as the clock ran out. Michael Floyd is the leading receiver this season with 55-728-8 TD's. The loss of TE Kyle Rudolph for the season was a big blow to the Irish attack.
Unless the Utes are able to figure out their secondary issues, Notre Dame should be able to move the ball with the pass in this game. The key for the Utes is to limit the big plays that have plagued them the last 2 contests.
Advantage Notre Dame
Despite giving up 177 yards to TCU on the ground, the run defense is still ranked in the top 20(16th) nationally allowing 111.0 yards a game. The linebacking corp should be at full strength for the first time this season as JJ Williams will likely make his first start, and Chad Manis is currently listed as starter in the 2 deep this week.
Notre Dame has been miserable in the running game this season with 111.3 yards/game which is 100th nationally. Things got worse when starter Armando Allen was lost for the season 3 weeks ago against Navy. Replacement Soph. Cierre Wood has 274 yards on 59 carries, 2 TD's on the year.
If the Irish are going to beat Utah, it will definitely not be with the ground game.
Shaky Smithson had little action in the PR game, but was able to break Jeremy Kerley's conference record on his single 10 yard return. Sean Sellwood has plenty of action and the coverage team had a good game containing the shifty Kerley with a combination of good hang time, and directional punting.
The Irish return teams have been average at best. They have averaged a paltry 6.2 yards a return, with John Goodman as the primary returner. The KR duties are shared by Cierre Wood and Bennett Jackson and have averaged only 20.1 yards on returns. Place Kicker David Ruffer has been a bright spot this year with 13-13 on FG's with a long of 50 yards.
Utah has the superior team on paper, but is coming off of a demoralizing defeat. Notre Dame has had a disappointing season, but it is Senior day and weather looks like it will be a factor which should help neutralize some of Utah's speed advantage.
Utah should rebound adequately, but the Irish will ride their home crowd and exploit the Utah secondary to keep it a competitive game.
Utah 31 Notre Dame 24
2011 Utah Football Schedule
Sept. 1 Montana State Salt Lake City
Sept. 10 at USC* Los Angeles, Calif.
Sept. 17 at Brigham Young Provo, Utah
Sept. 24 open
Oct. 1 Washington* Salt Lake City
Oct. 8 Arizona State* Salt Lake City
Oct. 15 at Pittsburgh Pittsburgh, Pa.
Oct. 22 at California* San Francisco, Calif.
Oct. 29 Oregon State* Salt Lake City
Nov. 5 at Arizona* Tucson, Ariz.
Nov. 12 UCLA* Salt Lake City
Nov. 19 at Washington State* Pullman, Wash.
Nov 26 Colorado* Salt Lake City
Friday, November 5, 2010
Anyway, Utah and TCU are two high speed football freight trains accelerating towards one another for a head on collision. Sparks will fly. Emotions will flare. It will be LOUD. As the phrase goes . . . buckle your figurative seat belts.
Updated Power Ranks and PEDM Data
NOTE: I recommend viewing the spreadsheet while reading below to get the most from this analysis.
Composite Power Rankings
- TCU (31)
- UTAH (44)
- SDSU (55)
- AF (72)
- BYU (95)
- CSU (98)
- UNLV (119)
- WYOMING (119)
- NM (130)
Utah's game against AF didn't do much to help it's statistical rankings in the 17 categories that compromise the composite power rankings. In fact, Utah dropped 9 points, further than any team in the league (UNLV dropped 7 points). I suppose when you only run 3 plays for the entire game, that's what happens. The win is what really matters, so I'm sure most Ute fans will tolerate the drop in power rankings for another win on the schedule, especially one against Air Force.
TCU, on the other hand continues to rise. They now have a score of 31. Keep in mind the highest possible score is 17 if you ranked 1st in each of the statistically categories. This means TCU's average rank in every category stat is 1.8 (compared to 2.6 for Utah).
Utah has the edge in:
- Passing Offense
- Scoring Offense
- Punt Return Yardage
- Pass Efficiency
- Tackles for Loss
- Sacks Allowed
- Rushing Offense
- Total Offense
- Rushing Defense
- Pass Efficiency Defense
- Total Defense
- Scoring Defense
- Net Punting
- Kickoff Returns
- Turnover Margin
- Pass Defense
A couple features to note from above. Our two biggest margin of victory games came at home. They were also two of the three largest PEDM values we've had entering a game.
The bad news is this is the first week Utah enters a game with a negative PEDM. (-5.99). Utah's smallest PEDM this season came against PITT (+1.97), where we beat them in OT at home. Now nobody panic just yet. This metric is certainly not predictive enough for a slight negative number to indicate or predict a loss. There is plenty of variability, especially given TCU's propensity to run the ball effectively. But one thing these numbers certainly say, to nobody's surprise, is that this is the stiffest test Utah has faced yet.
Unrelated to tomorrow's game, I should note that if the BYU - Utah game were played tomorrow, Utah's PEDM entering the game against BYU would be (+99.93), Utah's second largest advantage of the season. I'll put less stock in that number because of the nature of the rivalry and the things we've seen happen in the final minutes, but I personally feel pretty comfortable about that figure right now.
In contrast, a meeting against SDSU tomorrow would yield an advantage less than +25 PEDM, Utah's third most difficult behind TCU and Pitt.
My head says TCU, but my heart says Utah. Home crowd might honestly be the difference in this one. They won't let Utah have a second quarter like last year.
Utah in a squeaker: 27-24
- TCU has allowed opponents to convert just 23.9 percent of third downs, best in the nation, but it is the Utah defense that is best on third-and-short. With 3 yards or fewer to go, opponents are converting on Utah at a rate of 38.1 percent.
- Of Utah's 43 TD's this season, 15 have been scored on a play originating outside of the Redzone. TCU's numbers for the same category. 47/11. Pretty similar. Utah's 28 Redzone TD's: 9 passing TD's, 19 rushing TD's.
- Utah defense only allowing opponents to score TD's 37% of time in red zone, whereas TCU is allowing redzone TD's 50% of the time.
- Utes score TD's 72% of red zone appearances. TCU 78%.
- Utah defense only allowing opponents to score TD's 37% of time in red zone. TCU is allowing a 50% clip.
- TCU has won 39 straight games when rushing for more yards than passing & 48 in a row when rushing for 167+ yds.
- TCU's Andy Dalton v. Top 25 opponents not named BYU: 3 TD's 10 INT's
2. Keep attacking with the run game between the tackles. Regardless of success, you need to run to keep the safties honest and the LB's initial step forward all game long. Asiata needs to carry a bigger load than usual this game.
3. Play action pass off of #2. Quick slants to Christopher or (hopefully) Dexter Ransom. Seam patterns to Dallin Rogers or Kendrick Moeai. Crossing pattern with Brooks. You need TCU's 2 Strong safties to be keying on the run early and through the game.
4. No short fields for TCU's offense and no turnovers in the red zone. This one is huge. Nothing hurts more in a close defensive game than losing out on points(at least a FG) when you turn the ball over inside the 20.
5. No slow start. This one worries me the most. Have we had a game this year that we came out blazing in the 1st quarter?
6. Throw the deep ball early and enough to keep the CB's focused on the receiver instead of looking to help on the run or crossing routes. I would look for Dunn and Christopher deep at least 4-5 times, esp if the down/distance is favorable.
7. Tough man to man. This is where I think if BYU had Utah's CB's they would have held TCU under 20 points. TCU was able to get enough out of their passing game to overcome their lack of a running game.
8. Hit Dalton early and get ahead in the game. I think he is the weak link of their team.
9. The defense needs to get off the field on 3rd down. Dalton killed us with his feet last year on 3rd and 5-8.
10. If TCU gets in the red zone, make Ross Evans put in some work. Our D has been good against the run in the red zone, and have forced the opposition to kick FG's in some "sure TD's situations", eg. vs. Pitt after the blocked punt.
Podcast: The TCU Preview episode with Jeremy Clark of PurpleMenace.com, fan guests Tom Barberi and Natalie Adair talking TCU vs. Utah
Thursday, November 4, 2010
In what is the game of the year in the MWC, Utah(8-0), ranked 5th in the BCS, takes on TCU(9-0), ranked 3rd in the BCS. The Horned Frogs are on a roll, dominating the competition in the MWC by a cumulative score 189-16, surrendering just 2 touchdowns in 5 conference games. They are coming off of a 48-6 shellacking of UNLV in Las Vegas last week.
Utah survived a close game in Colorado Springs against Air Force 28-23 with some big 4th down stops by the defense. The Utes dominated the time of possession 36:20-23:40 and coming up with 5 turnovers, a season high, in the win.
Utah’s Offense vs. TCU’s Defense
Two strengths clash here as the Horned Frogs are 1st nationally in passing yards allowed(119 yds/gm) and 4th nationally in Pass Efficiency Defense. The Utes are averaging 258.1 yards/gm and rank 4th nationally in Pass Efficiency Offense.
TCU is lead in the secondary by SS Colin Jones, who is in the running for several national awards. The Frogs play a 5 DB set and start seniors at 4 of the 5 slots. TCU has picked up 7 interceptions and have 20 sacks on the season, although the loss of DT Kelly Griffin to injury early in the Air Force game has slowed them as they have only collected 1 sack the last 2 games. DE Wayne Daniels took over for Larry Hughes and leads the team with 5.5 sacks.
Jordan Wynn turned in a ho-hum performance against the Fly Boys, showing some inconsistency over the season where he has alternated lights out performances against ISU and CSU, with below average games against Wyoming and AFA. The health of DeVonte Christopher is key for Utah. He did practice on Tuesday, but was wearing a knee brace. Christopher and Reggie Dunn are the 2 receivers with the speed to get separation against the TCU secondary. Utah needs to try to stretch the field to keep the safeties from crowding the box/disrupting the crossing patterns by Jereme Brooks and Luke Matthews.
The key for Utah is to keep the pressure off Wynn and allow the passing patterns time to develop. TCU was able to get to Wynn at will in last year’s game. LT John Cullen vs. Daniels is the matchup to watch.
TCU ranks 9th nationally allowing 98.3 yards/gm. Sophomore LB Tanner Brock has stepped in and leads the team in tackles with 65. LB Tank Carder is 4th on the team in tackles, but is considered by many the leader of the defense. TCU has shown some weakness against runs between tackle (particularly against BYU and Oregon St.), but that weakness is minimal.
Utah continues to average a healthy 191.5 yards/game which ranks 29th nationally.
Matt Asiata had a strong game running inside against Air Force netting 95 yards on 26 carries. Eddie Wide complemented with 82 yards on 23 carries as the Utes appeared to make a concerted effort to dominate the clock against the Falcons.
The Utes missed Asiata’s inside running and pass protection last year against TCU and may see a higher percentage of the plays this game in what to this point has been a fairly even split in plays. Look for Asiata to run plenty of quick hitting plays between tackle. The delay’s and counters should take a back seat this week due to the team speed of the Horned Frog’s Defense.
Utah’s Defense vs. TCU’s Offense
If there is a chink in the TCU armor, it is likely here. The Frogs average 214.8 yards a game(4th MWC, 60th nationally), but are 13th nationally in Pass Efficiency Offense. Andy Dalton is 143-217, for 209.4 avg, 16 TD’s and 5 Int’s. Watching several games this year, he does not seem as sharp passing as last year, and he seems to not play as well when pressured. TCU has a 3 pronged WR attack led by Jeremy Kerley 35-364-7 TD’s, Josh Boyce 25-395-4 TD’s, and Jimmy Young 16-247-2 TD’s.
Despite a subpar performance against Air Force, the Utah secondary continues to be highly ranked, allowing only 165 yds/game which places them 10th nationally. Utah will likely play plenty of Nickel coverage using Brandon Burton, Lamar Chapman, and Conroy Black to play plenty of man coverage. They have the speed to run with the TCU wideouts, but their success is dependent on the pass rush making Dalton throw earlier than planned or forcing him to throw on the run.
Success in the passing game for TCU is entirely dependent on the success of their running game and down and distance. If the average is 2nd and 7, 3 and 6, TCU’s passing game going to struggle. If you base the analysis solely on the personnel, the Utes have a very slim edge.
TCU touts one of the best rushing games in the nation at 270.9 yards a game(9th nationally), particularly when you consider that 3 of the teams above them are option attacks. Ed Wesley is the leader with 138-948-10 Td’s, followed by Matthew Tucker with 104-496-6 Td’s. Tucker is more of an inside runner and Wesley uses his elite speed to burn teams on the outside.
Utah’s front 7 met their toughest challenge to date against Air Force and held the Falcon’s 120 yards below their season average. The front four continued to show their dominance, but the linebacking corp had some of their deficiencies revealed, particularly lateral speed. You may see the Utes adapt some of TCU’s 4-2-5 look, bringing in Chapman or Greg Bird in for one of the LB’s. This will help with edge speed. Bird will likely play on more obvious running downs, and Chapman in passing situations.
In my opinion, the game hinges on the success that TCU will have running the ball on 1st and 2nd downs. If the Frogs end up in 2nd or 2rd and short, it will be a long day for the Ute defense. If the Utes can contain the run enough to force Andy Dalton to beat them with his arm, the day will belong to the Crimson and White
The game will feature 2 of the better special teams units in the nation. Shaky Smithson continues to be the leader nationally in punt return average, while Jeremy Kerley is 17th. Both punters are Ray Guy award semifinalists(Anson Kelton 41.5 yd average for TCU and Sean Sellwood 42.5 yard average for Utah). K Ross Evans is a perfect 6-6 on FG and 47-50 on XPA, but he has a few Rice-Eccles Stadium demons to exorcise from 2008 where he missed 2 short kicks. Joe Phillips missed his first FG of the year at AFA, a 43 yarder into the wind, but is 9-10 on FG and 47-48 on XPA.
TCU is a 6 point favorite coming into the game. Utah has several intangibles on their side with the home crowd and playing at altitude. The Horned Frogs have played outside of Texas only twice this season, beating CSU in a so-so effort 27-0 and against UNLV where they won handily. They have only played 1 game where the outcome was in doubt in the 4th quarter(against Oregon St. in the opener). TCU is a front running team. They tend to dominate when they can get a big lead early, but their offense has struggled in games that are close.
Utah has no glaring weaknesses, but, on paper, appear to be a notch below TCU, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. Utah’s offense is higher scoring, but totals fewer yards. This can be attributed almost completely to the return game that has let Utah’s Offense score on short fields multiple times this season.
I can’t wait to see this one in person. I see the Utes pulling off a minor upset.
Utah 20 TCU 16