Saturday, April 30, 2011

Utah Football, The Pac-12, 2011 and Beyond

So upon the completion of spring camp I have a few thoughts about the current state and future prospects for Utah football.

As per usual, Utah's success this season is going to be driven by the defense.

Our defensive line is the only unit that has both experience and the necessary depth to be a dominant unit in the Pac-12. With 2 returning starters,5 players with significant field experience), and several others who were impressive in the spring(. The only lingering concern is the ability to garner a significant pass rush with only the front 4.

The linebackers have improved athleticism with Blechen now at the Stud position. Walker and Martinez have plenty of experience, and by report, were getting to position quicker this spring as compared to last season. After the 3 starters, there are lots of question marks: JJ Williams(health), David Fageron(athleticism), and Jacoby Hale/VJ Fehoko(plenty of talent but zero experience). One or two injuries to this unit could spell disaster during the coming season.

The secondary has no returning starters, and only 1 player with significant playing time(Conroy Black). There is, however a wealth of talented athletic players vying for a chance to prove themselves. Utah is depending on Keith McGill making it to fall camp to anchor the secondary similarly to Robert Johnson(big shoes to fill). I like the future for this unit, but they are likely to get abused early on. Hopefully, they will gel as the season progresses.

The offense is going to be a mystery this season. Implementing a new offense with your starting QB unable to make any throws, while facing a significant upgrade in schedule is not exactly the recipe for success. The change of philosophy was needed and will reap more long term success than sticking with the spread. However, the growing pains are going to be evident this year(and likely next year as well).

The quarterback position is going to be the most unsettled of all of the spots on the offense. Robles was hurt most by the new offense. He is much better suited for the spread option than either Wynn or Shreve. He had 2 years of practicing in the spread that were flushed. And he struggled with the footwork of playing under center. Shreve is too raw and needs time to acclimate to college ball and to learn the nuances of the offense. I hope he will redshirt. Wynn will need to take full advantage of the summer to get in sync with the receivers. He will clearly be the starter in the fall, but that is as much a result of the poor performances of Shreve and Robles this spring.

The change in offensive philosophy is going to be evident at every position this season and success is going to depend on how quickly players can "unlearn" the past and assimilate into a system that may not exactly match the skillset that they were initially recruited for. The line is going to have to move to a more aggressive mindset, more 3 pt stances, more running plays in general. The receivers are going to have to improve route running, timing, and learn to read defenders more proficiently(Jereme Brooks would be an utter failure in this offense).

Areas that will see emphasis in recruiting would include:

1. Linebacker. Need more depth, more athleticism. May see more "larger" safties recruited to play LB (ala Blechen)

2. Offensive line. Larger bodies. Taller tackles.

3. Tight End. Blocking abilites will be emphasized.

4. Receiver. Less emphasis on raw athletic ability. More emphasis on route running, decision making, etc.

5. FB. Actually recruiting to the position. :D

Looking forward to the season. I see plenty of 20-17, 17-14, 28-24 scores. The defense should hold up their end of the bargain through the year, but the offense is going to struggle. It is going to take some time for Chow's offense to be grasped by the current group, and for the players who are recruited directly to the system to mature. I look to the offense being much improved in 2012, but 2011 is going to be an adventure.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Podcast: Andy Hill, new Men's Basketball Assistant Coach

ListenAndy Hill, new Men's Basketball Assistant Coach, talking about his career before Utah, what brought him to Utah, his thoughts on working for Larry Krystkowiak, their experiences working together at Montana, the task of rebuilding the Utah Basketball program, making a team of players who want to be Utes, and more!
"No one likes to be on a team where shots are being hucked up and there's no team game. I think good offense leads to good defense. If you take good team shots and people know where they're coming from, then it leads to good transition balance defensively and you get guys to play in the half court and we get after it defensively. We have each other's back, we show on screens, we show on 'on-balls', we scramble, we get to the next guy, we take some charges, we dive on the floor..."
"[Regarding player attrition:] We're going to go with some guys who want to be Utes, and that's the bottom line."
This is a 19 minute episode.

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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Podcast: Spring Game Recap w/ MUSS Founders Scott Hammer and Daniel Olsen

ListenSpring Game Recap w/ MUSS Founders Scott Hammer and Daniel Olsen, talking about the Red vs. White Game, the good and the bad, surprises and disappointments, the new offense, the tremendous fan participation in Spring Football, and Scott and Dan's roles in creating the Mighty Utah Student Section (MUSS).
"Raven: Last year I said, 'Luke Matthews needs to get better at catching the ball.' This year, the first pass thrown his way: dropped. And it was in his hand. So he gets moves from wide receiver to running back and now he's back at wideout. And if he's going to stay at wideout, either he needs to start catching the ball or he's not going to see the field this season."
This is a 34 minute episode.

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Friday, April 15, 2011

Podcast: Spring Football Discussion with James Durrant of UteZone [part 2 of 2]

Listen Spring Football Discussion with James Durrant of UteZone [part 2 of 2], talking about the many changes taking place on the Utah Football team this year, the new offense, new assistant coaches, new players, injury update, and more.
"[In Saturday's Spring Game] we will see a heavy emphasis on the power downhill running game. If fans really want to get an idea of how good the running game will be this year, don't watch the tailbacks, don't watch Harvey Langi or Thretton Palamo. Watch the guys in front of them, watch the fullback play."
This is a 14 minute episode.

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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Podcast: Spring Football Discussion with James Durrant of UteZone [part 1 of 2]

Listen Spring Football Discussion with James Durrant of UteZone [part 1 of 2], talking about the many changes taking place on the Utah Football team this year, the new offense, new assistant coaches, new players, injury update, and more.

This is a 15 minute episode.

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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Podcast: Utes Basketball Fan Roundable [part 2 of 2]

Listen Utes Basketball Fan Roundable [part 2 of 2], talking about the Krystkowiak hire, what happens if Clyburn and O'Brien don't come back, what is necessary for the Runnin' Utes to be successful next year, what has to happen for it to be considered successful, and more.

Featuring Raven and Shane of The U Fan Cast, and Utefans Bryan Packer and Dave McIntosh. [links to Twitter]
"Bryan: I like the fact that all the big guys seems excited about this. Hopefully this is going to be a new start for them. We've all seen that up-side that Washburn has. If he can establish more of that dominant presence inside, coupled with his athletic ability, I think he could be quite a force in there."
This is a 16 minute episode.

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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Podcast: Utes Basketball Fan Roundable [part 1 of 2]

Listen Utes Basketball Fan Roundable [part 1 of 2], talking about the hiring of Larry Krystkowiak. Was he the right hire? Was it worth dumping Jim Boylen for him? Will be be able to recruit? Hear our thoughts on these topics, the assistant coaches, player defections, and more.

Featuring Raven and Shane of The U Fan Cast, and Utefans Bryan Packer and Dave McIntosh. [links to Twitter]
"Raven on local recruiting: Do you really need to go to Georgia to get a Chris Kupets when you've got a Tyler Newbold in your back yard? Drew Hansen didn't think he was that talented, but we all know what an important cog he was in that 1998 machine."
"Shane: Generally I think you're talking about the 'glue guys,' that bring the team together and fill in those holes. I don't know if we're ever going to expect any [local] Utah guys to be the superstars, but it might happen."
"Dave: We need to find a balance. I'm concerned that we're getting a little obsessive about the 'Utah' aspect, when we don't just need a Utah kid. We need players, no matter where they're from."
This is a 16 minute episode.

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Friday, April 8, 2011

Podcast: Utah Women's Basketball Coach Anthony Levrets

Listen Utah Women's Basketball Coach Anthony Levrets, talking about the relief of removing "interim" from his title, peaking at the end of the season, winning the conference tourney and playing NCAA tournament finalist Notre Dame tough, moving on to the Pac-12, and more.

Coach Anthony Levrets
"Defensively, we guarded incredibly well all year long, but it was just not very comfortable until the very end offensively. When you change positions and when you're young -- like I said, 11 freshmen and sophomores -- it takes a while to get comfortable in an offensive system and making shots, but by the end of the season we were clicking on the offensive end of the floor as we had been defensively all year."
This is a 15 minute episode.

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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Podcast: Utah Baseball Coach Bill Kinneberg

Listen Utah Baseball Coach Bill Kinneberg, talking about his return to Utah, moving to a strong Pac-12 conference, seeing boosts in recruiting, playing in Spring Mobile park, the exhibition game with the Bees, the progress of the team, and more.

Coach Bill Kinneberg
"My background is pitching, so I guess I kind of lean toward the defensive side. I love to play good defense, I love good pitching. Those are the keys to the game. In college baseball now with the new bats, it's changed the offense a bit, but it still comes down to how good your guy on the hill is."
This is a 17 minute episode.

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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Podcast: Gymnastics Regionals recap and Nationals preview with Utah Gymnastics assistant coach Tom Farden

Listen Gymnastics Regionals recap and Nationals preview with Utah Gymnastics assistant coach Tom Farden. Good luck to the Red Rocks at Nationals!

"The emotional health of the team is in a really good spot right now. They're on a high. You can tell that they have some Utah Pride in the gym and in the meet."

This is a 16 minute episode.

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Ast. Coach Tom Farden



Monday, April 4, 2011

Podcast: Drew Hansen, former Runnin' Utes star [part 3 of 3]

ListenDrew Hansen, former Runnin' Utes star [part 2 of 3], talking about what he thinks it will take to bring Utah back to a respectable basketball program and what he's been doing since graduating from the U.

"You've got to get someone with ties to the West, I'd love to see someone with a connection to the better days at Utah, as an assistant or as a head coach, someone who either grew up in Utah or has a love for the Utes. If they are successful, it's a place they're going to be for a long time..."

This is a 9 minute episode.

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Drew Hansen


Friday, April 1, 2011

Podcast: Drew Hansen, former Runnin' Utes star [part 2 of 3]

ListenDrew Hansen, former Runnin' Utes star [part 2 of 3], talking about the run to the 1998 Final Four, his role in the Triangle-and-Two defense vs. Arizona, the strategies deployed against North Carolina and Kentucky, and more thoughts about that magical run, and why he thinks Utah Basketball declined afterward.

"One of the things that happened in the Carolina game is I kind of got cheap-shotted by one of their players; he ran through a pick using his forearm to my neck. That ended up screwing up my back. So between the semifinal game and the National Championship game, I didn't practice, which was unusual for me. I really couldn't move much. I ended up getting a cortisone shot initially and at halftime I was getting shot up with pain medication to be able to play."

"There are very few things I regret in my career, but one thing I wish I could change was being healthy for that game [vs. Kentucky]. I say that because there was a play in the 2nd half ... I'm guarding Cameron Mills, great shooter, but kind of the guy I was born to defend: a great shooter that can't put the ball on the floor that well. I came off a down-screen, and to this day I think if I had been healthy I would have been a half-step closer, but the fact is I was a half-step late and the guy hit the big three..."

This is a 15 minute episode.

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Drew Hansen


Video: Nansy Damianova at Practice Before Regionals 3/31/11

Nansy talks about preparing for Regionals, the differences competing internationally vs. the NCAA, her favorite events, skills, and academic subjects, and more.