Game Preview Facts and Factors
No. 9/9 Utah (6-0, 3-0 MWC) hosts Colorado State (2-5, 1-2 MWC) on Saturday, Oct. 23. Kickoff is 4 p.m. MT in Rice-Eccles Stadium. The game will be televised by The Mtn. Radio is ESPN700 AM (espn700sports.com) and SIRIUS XM (Channel 91).
Utah is ranked No. 9 across the board this week. Utah checked in at No. 9 in the first BCS standings of the season, moved up two positions in the Associated Press poll from a week ago, and gained one spot in the USA Today Coaches poll.
The 6-0 Utes are bowl-eligible for an eighth-straight season. Utah has the nation's longest active bowl win streak at nine games (1999, 2001, 2003-09).
Utah is off to its third 6-0 start in the last seven years (the Utes finished 12-0 in 2004 and 13-0 in 2008).
Utah puts a 20-game home win streak on the line against CSU. It is the third-longest active win streak in the nation, the second-longest in school history and the longest in MWC history.
Utah leads the nation in kickoff returns (29.2 average) and TFL yardage allowed (47). The Utes rank in the top 10 nationally in several categories, including scoring offense (No. 4/45.8 ppg) and scoring defense (tied for No. 9/14.0 ppg).
With 17-consecutive made field goals, dating back to last season, Utah's Joe Phillips is tied for the longest FGM streak in the nation. Phillips also owns the school record for consecutive field goals.
Utah's series with CSU is the fourth-longest in Utah football history at 78 games. The Utes have won six of the last seven, lead 54-22-2 overall and 31-8-2 in Salt Lake City.
The McCarthey family, philanthropists and longtime Utah boosters, will be honored during the Utah-CSU game for their $2 million donation toward the construction of the McCarthey Family Track & Field. Earlier in the day, University of Utah administrators and members of the McCarthey family will officially dedicate the McCarthey Family Track & Field. The dedication ceremony will begin at 11 a.m., Saturday, Oct. 23 at the new track, which is located north of Ute Softball Field at 98 S. Wasatch Drive.
OUTSIDE THE LINES
The theme for Saturday's game is "Uth" Day and youth 12 years and younger with a game ticket are invited to follow the football team on to the field as part of the pre-game Ute Walk at 1:30 p.m. In compliance with NCAA regulations, the youth may be accompanied by an adult 18 years of age or older. No registration is necessary. Additional youth activities, including balloon animals, face painting and games with student-athletes from various Ute teams, will be held in the southeast plaza by the Hoberman Arch beginning at 2 p.m. … The women's tennis team will be honored at the game for its 2010 MWC Championship and head coach Mat Iandolo will be recognized as the 2009-10 Don Reddish Coach of the Year.
INSIDE THE HUDDLE
Ute running backs coach Aaron Alford played defensive back for Colorado State, lettering in 1993 … Expected to miss this week's game against CSU is tight end Brad Clifford (shoulder) … Utah has collected seven MWC Player of the Week citations to date: DeVonte Christopher (offense, Sept. 6), Brian Blechen (defense, Sept. 6); Smithson (special teams, Sept. 13, Sept. 20, Oct. 11), Lamar Chapman (defense, Sept. 20) and Wynn (offense, Oct. 11) … Six true freshmen have played: Blechen, Wykie Freeman, Mike Honeycutt, Joe Kruger, Westlee Tonga and Michael Walker.
When Utah has the Ball
Not the most effective performance by the Utes last week against Wyoming, but there's no reason to think they won't bounce back and put up anywhere from 40-60 points against Colorado State. The Rams are riding high after their defense held UNLV to only 274 yards and 13 points.
Jordan Wynn needs a rebound game in the worst way before the Utes head out to take on Air Force. The three interceptions last week were a result of him trying to do too much when it wasn't needed, and forcing balls into spots that were unnecessary. Jordan is sometimes too confident for his own good and thinks he can, and needs to, make big plays more often than is asked of him. A conservative gameplan that keeps him from forcing balls. In other words, play like Terrance Cain to build some confidence going into Air Force. If Jordan throws two picks this week, the hesitation and tentativeness that can come with that could carry over to the next week, and the Utes can't have that if they're going to beat the Falcons.
Jereme Brooks should be a huge key in a conservative gameplan as Wynn will likely look to Brooks early and often on their favorite short route over the middle. Brooks hasn't done much the past few weeks and needs to get himself rolling again before Air Force and TCU. With fairly inexperience corners for Colorado State, including a true freshman, the Utah receivers should be running a lot of short high percentage routes that frustrate the Ram's youngsters. Neither the safeties nor the corners are very big and guys like Luke Matthews, DeVonte Christopher, and Dexter Ransom should have their way.
UNLV insisted on running the ball, picking up 149 yards on the ground, but needing 49 yards to do it for 3.3 yards a carry. The Utes should be able to do a much better job of picking up yardage in chunks on the ground against the nation's 103rd ranked rushing defense that is giving up 202 yards per game. With two extremely undersized linebackers, an undersized defensive tackle, and two lighter defensive ends, expect to see a steady dose of the downhill running Matt Asiata has provided the past few weeks in establishing himself as the more reliable back. Similar to what the Utes did last week by pulling their guards time and time again, Caleb Schlauderaff and company shouldn't have any trouble manhandling that front seven for Colorado State with Utah running for 200+ yards.
When Colorado State has the ball
The Rams started the year off very slowly scoring only 19 points in their first three games (all losses). Since then, freshman quarterback Pete Thomas and the offense has really coming alive putting up 34, 27, and 43 points in three games since with an excusable shutout against arguably the nation's best defense in TCU mixed in.
Thomas is completing 67 percent of his passes on the year and has 7 touchdowns and only 2 interceptions in his last four games. He's still a work in progress, as all true freshmen quarterbacks are, but seems to be improving by leaps and bounds with each game. Not the most mobile quarterback, he's still a big kid that will stand in the pocket and take a hit. The Utes will likely throw a lot of blitzes his way, sending Lamar Chapman, Brian Blechen, and Justin Taplin-Ross at him, whenever they get a chance. If the Utes can rattle the youngster with a few big hits and maybe an interception early in the game, they'll be able to keep him from getting comfortable in his first big road start against a top 10 team.
The Rams don't have any real big threats in the receiving game, but do have 8 players with 10+ catches on the year. Tyson Ligget is the most consistent receiver with 27 catches and can be counted on for a few a game, but isn't a gamebreaker that's going to take one 80 yards for a touchdown. That distinction belongs to Lou Greenwod who is averaging almost 16 yards per catch. He had 128 yards receiving last week against UNLV on only 2 catches. Lamar Chapman will probably receive the task of shutting him down. Tight End Eric Peitz has 3 TD catches the last two weeks and has turned into a red-zone threat. The Utes haven't had much trouble with tight ends, but Peitz is a big kid who's also a great run blocker.
Colorado State likes to line up with a fullback and two tight ends, so they're going to try to run the ball a lot. In place of the injured Raymond Carter, running back Leonard Mason has back to back 100+ yard games and is averaging 6.1 yards a carry. He's a power back that is difficult to bring down, but that plays right into the Utes hands with their penchant for gang-tackling. Utah's 13th ranked rush defense is giving up 97 yards a game. With some of the inexperience on the Colorado State offensive line, the Utes should be able to hold CSU under that number with ease. Look for Chaz Walker to have a big game in terms of total tackles with the Rams trying to establish that running game.
The Utes have been dynamite on special teams with punt returns, kick returns, and blocked punts all taken back for touchdowns. Colorado State return man Derek Good is leading the country in kickoff return average at over 37 yards per return. He hasn't broken one yet, but is a threat to do so each time he touches the ball. He'll be going up against the Utes' kickoff coverage team that is giving up just over 19 yards per return, but has been prone to the long return on occasion. Nick Marsh has 12 touchbacks on the year and keeping Good from bring the ball out will be the best way to keep him under wraps.
Utah is leading the country in kickoff return average at over 29 yards per return led by Shaky Smithson and Reggie Dunn. Colorado State has struggled to contain kickoff returns and is allowing almost 27.5 yards per return, 115th in the country. The Rams have been decent in punt return coverage on the year allowing 9.75 yards per return. It's been a few weeks since Shaky has taken one back for a touchdown. Either he or Dunn is going to break one in this game.
Not that this game is going ot come down to the kicking game, but the Utes have a big edge at both spots with Joe Phillips and Sean Sellwood. Sellwood seems to kick better at home, but probably won't be very busy this week.
The Utes have won the last four against Colorado State by a margin of over 19 points a game, with three of those easy victories.
Since the start of the 2004 season, the Rams are 8-29 on the road. The Utes have won a MWC record 20 straight home games.
Utah is 13-0 in the month of October since the start of the 2007 season.
Utah has outscored opponents 117-7 in the second quarter this season. Colorado State has been outscored 75-41 in the same frame.
The temperature at kickoff should be in the high 50s with about a 50% chance of rain. I always say that nasty weather plays into the hands of the less talented team. With Colorado State likely looking to run the ball in an attempt to control the clock, this works towards their favor.
This is going to be a statement game for the Utes. After the lackluster performance in Laramie, they want to show the nation that they need to be taken seriously as national title contenders before the schedule starts getting rough. They're also going to be looking ot prove to themselves that last week's game was a minor bump in the road and the last mediocre performance they'll put up all season.
A steady dose of Matt Asiata (20 carries) and Eddie Wide (12+ carries) at the outset should get the ball rolling as the Utes come out and put up a season high 14 first quarter points. Jordan Wynn manages the game and completes 75% of his passes with 2 touchdowns and no interceptions as the offense continues it's second quarter scoring sprees, putting the game out of reach by the second half. The running game really gets going as Asiata goes over 100 yards for the second straight game and Wide pitches in 75 while Jereme Brooks gets back on track with 5+ first half catches and a touchdown. Colorado State is held under 250 yards and manages only a field goal against the Utah second string D. The Utes move on to Air Force at 7-0.
Utah 52 Colorado State 3
Utah vs Colorado State- Game Preview
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