Facts and Factors
It's Homecoming for No. 13/13 Utah (3-0, 2-0 MWC) when it hosts San Jose State (1-2, 0-0 WAC) on Saturday, Sept. 25 in Rice-Eccles Stadium. Kickoff is 6 p.m. There is no TV. Radio is ESPN700 AM (espn700sports.com).
The Utes moved up one spot in both polls to No. 13. It is their highest ranking since the Sugar Bowl champion Utes finished the 2008 season ranked No. 2 in the nation (Associated Press) and No. 4 (coaches).
Utah's home win streak, now at 19 games, is the longest home win streak in MWC history, the second-longest in school history and the third-longest active win streak in the nation. "The Streak" dates back to a Sept. 15, 2007 victory over 11th-ranked UCLA and currently ranks behind only Oklahoma (33) and Boise State (26). The school record for consecutive home wins is 26, set 1928-34.
Utah leads the series with San Jose State 5-1 with its loss coming on Homecoming of 1974 in Salt Lake City.
Utah's all-time record in homecoming games is 55-30-4. The Utes have won their last three homecoming games (Utah State, 2007; Weber State 2008; Louisville, 2009).
Utah leads the Mountain West Conference and is ranked in the top 20 in the nation in both passing efficiency offense and passing efficiency defense. Utah's 177.7 passing efficiency offense is No. 7 nationally and its 101.8 passing efficiency defense is No. 19.
Utah returner Shaky Smithson won his second MWC Special Teams Player of the Week award in as many weeks and cornerback Lamar Chapman won his first MWC Defensive Player of the Week award following Utah's 56-14 win over New Mexico.
Utah's coaches will participate in the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA)-sponsored Coach to Cure MD program at this Saturday's game. The coaches will wear a Coach to Cure MD logo patch in support of research projects for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.
When Utah has the ball
Jordan Wynn should be back and the offense should continue to roll. Better execution in the run game is imperative, especially early on while Jordan Wynn finds his rhythm. The first 10 plays of the game should be runs in an attempt to set up the passing game and buy Jordan Wynn as much time as he can get. If Wynn takes a big hit on his first few pass attempts, his confidence standing in the pocket may be rattled. Keep him clean and healthy by running the ball, at least through the first quarter.
DeVonte Christopher looks to have established himself as that number 2 receiver opposite Jereme Brooks. He had a nice game last week. Let's see if he can follow that up with a second consecutive solid game for the first time in his career.
With Brad Clifford out, Kendrick Moeia should get most of the run at tight end and could be poised for a breakout. If he gets 30-35 snaps, He's going to pick up 3-5 catches and establish himself as the number one guy.
San Jose State doesn't have much to throw at the Utes with their defense. Alex Ihenacho is an all conference safety, but is out this week for the Spartans, dealing them a huge blow. Peyton Thompson is a solid corner, but without Ihenacho protecting him, he might be exposed this week going against Jereme Brooks. The defensive line is undersized, the linebackers are inexperienced. Defensive tackle Pablo Garcia is a solid player with plenty of experience and possibly their best defensive player with Inehacho out,, but he wouldn't sniff the field if he played for Utah. The talent on the San Jose is that bad.
RUN RUN RUN!!!!!!. The run game has been mediocre at best this season, with Eddie Wide and Mtt Asiata unable to break off any long runs. Griff Robles and Tauni Vakapuna were the leading rushers last week with over 100 yards between them. Wide and Asiata ran for 57 combined. They should be embarrassed. The offensive line is opening up holes. Asiata is getting to them fine, but isn't breaking as many tackles as he could and refuses to bounce the ball outside. Wide has been hesistant at the line at times, opting instead to dance around until he finds the opening he's looking for. The running game is not an issue, really when you look at the box score and with the opponents they have played. The Utes are picking up yards 4, 5, and 6 yards at a time, which will get you down the field eventually. But those 4, 5, and 6 yard runs becomes 3, 4, and 5 yard runs against Air Force and Notre Dame, and become 1, 2, and 3 yard runs against TCU. Memo to the receivers: Block somebody. I know that all receivers hate to block downfield, but if you want your team breaking off a few long runs, it has to be done. They are as much to blame for the lack of home runs in the run game as the running backs.
When San Jose State has the ball
YUCK!!!! That's the best way to describe the offense right now for San Jose State. The Spartans run a variation of the pistol offense, which is built on misdirection, movement, and a mobile quarterback. Jordan La Secla is not a mobile quarterback, and Sealver Siliga, Dave Kruger and the rest of the defensive line should have a field day making his life miserable for a day. SJSU has only given up one sack on the season so far. That number should increase by about 3 or 4 after Saturday. Derrick Shelby should be back in the lineup for the Utes, which can only help the pass rush.
The passing game numbers are better than you might expect for a team that uses the pistol. Freshman Chandler Jones already has 20 catches on the season, including 17 in his last two games, while Jalal Beauchman is a veteran with almost 100 career catches. If San Jose State wants to be successful through the air, they're going to need to do so when Utah blitzes. The Utes' corners and safeties are too good for the Spartan receivers to get the better of them. Brandon Burton is the best corner in the conference and Lamara Chapman is making his case as one of he top 10 corners in the conference.
The running game for the Spartans is pathetic. Teams that use the pistol need to be able to run the ball with consistency. This is the first year using this offense for coach and the Sand Jose State, but you'd have to expect more than 67 yards per game on the ground out of that set. Brandon Rutley is the main man for the WAC bottom-feeders and isn't much of a running back. The linebacking trio of Chaz Walker, Matt Martinez, and Chad Manis shouldn't have a problem containing him.
Harrison Waid is a below average kicker. Jens Alvernik is well below average as a punter. Brandon Rutley and Brandon Driver are below average return-men. Joe Phillips, Sean Sellwood and Shaky Smithson are all well above average. Phillips is one of the top 10-15 kickers in the country. Shaky is arguably the best return man in the country. Sellwood is going to be a Ray Guy finalist before he graduates.
The game is back in Rice Eccles where the home-town crowd is going to be pumped up for a homecoming game. The Utes should come out with tons of energy.
Mike MacIntyre is a first year head coach with the Spartans. Kyle Whittingham as been at Utah since 1994, and the coach since 2005. He's one of the best in the country.
San Jose State hasn't won on the road since 2008. Utah has a MWC record 19 game home winning streak.
The Utes should come out and dominate their opponent early, as they have the past few weeks. The only difference this week is going to be the lack of stalled drives or turnovers in the opening quarter. Jordan Wynn is efficient, but not spectacular in his return, throwing for over 200 yards (100 of those to Jereme Brooks) with 2 touchdowns and most importantly, no interceptions. The running game finally gets going with Matt Asiata and Eddie Wide going for over 170 yards combined before sitting out the fourth quarter. Asiata finally breaks one for a 40+ yard touchdown. Shaky Smithson doesn't take a punt back to the house this week, but turns in over 200 yards of kick returns again. Joe Phillips kicks three field goals and the offense puts up 400 yards while the defense completely shuts down a poor San Jose State offense, holding them to under 200 total yards.
Utah 44 San Jose State 6
Utah vs San Jose State- Game Preview
Ute Zone Top Stories
Shah, Jr. relishes the family legacyFor linebacker Sharrieff Shah, Jr., the opportunity to carry on a legacy was too much to pass up.
Ute ZoneYesterday at 11:41 PM
Film Room: Utah vs. USCUteZone breaks down the biggest plays in Utah's win over USC.
Ute ZoneYesterday at 11:16 PM
UteZone Roundtable: 9/25The UteZone staff talks about Utah's big win over USC, what we've seen from the Utes so far this year and what to expect against Cal.
Ute ZoneSunday at 8:50 PM
Position Grades: Utah vs. USCSteve Bartle grades each position group following Utah's big 31-27 win over USC.
Ute ZoneSaturday at 1:09 AM