Return To Mediocrity

Utah lays an egg in Tucson and fails to capitalize on momentum from Stanford win

And we're back to square one. Utah was unable to carry the momentum of their upset victory over Stanford into Tucson with a disappointing loss marred by mistakes, listlessness, and inconsistency.

A team that dominated and out-physicalled arguably the most physical team in the country, was run off the field by a team that was quicker, faster, and on this day, more physical in every facet of the game.

It was the imperfect storm Saturday night as everything went wrong. Utah received few breaks, had everything work against them, and had their starting quarterback knocked out. How they were able to hang with Arizona, and even have the lead in the fourth quarter, is astonishing.

How does Utah's offensive line play such a complete and total game against Stanford, then follow it up with a performance like they put on the field against Arizona? Some good push in the run game, but not the pass protection needed for a team that once, down, was forced to throw.

It was as if Utah's defensive line just figured they'd do the same things to Arizona as they did against Stanford. Newsflash!!!! Arizona and Stanford run different offenses!!!! If it weren't for the linebackers and safeties, Carey would have run for 350 yards.

I said before the season that Utah would be the most frustrating team in the conference, showing promise, but also inconsistency. That is what this team is; promising and inconsistent. Was it a hangover from last week's big win? You can't deny that it was a contributing factor, but not an excuse. Kyle Whittingham teams shouldn't have letdowns like this. Teams with guys like Tenny Palepoi, Trevor Reilly, and Jeremiah Tofaeono should not be prone to mental lapses like this, but they are. Where does that fault lay? With the coaches? With the players? With the fans and media and all the praise and accolades we've thrown their way? I'll take some of the blame. They fooled me. Shame on me.

I bought in after a great performance without taking into account all factors, including the inability to beat anyone of note on the road within conference play. I won't be fooled again. Until the Utes win a road game over a quality opponent within the Pac 12, everyone will take a cautious approach in assuming we know this team. Shame on Utah if we buy in again after single great performance? No. Shame on us.

So, what do we expect next week? Travis Wilson is battling injuries, leaving his status up in the air. Adam Schulz was solid to start out, but faded as the game went on, and it's apparent that the coaching staff doesn't have a ton of confidence in his ability to make a big play, as evidenced by the late game play calling. Conner Manning? How many college QBs have taken their first snap as a true freshman on the road in the middle of the season AT the Coliseum? Against a very talented defense, this doesn't sound like the ideal spot to throw Manning into the fire. If Wilson can't go, the idea of Schulz against USC's front 7 has to scare the pants off of you, especially with how the offensive line blocked. The signature road win may have to wait unless we get the ‘up' Utah we've seen from time to time in an otherwise wildly inconsistent up and down season.

Not all is lost though. While the Pac 12 South Title is gone with the Utes now 2 games behind ASU, and effectively 3 games behind UCLA with the Bruins owning the head to head tiebreaker, the season still has a purpose. What is Utah playing for now? Bowl eligibility, and with 5 games remaining, including one against Colorado, there's no reason to think they won't be able to pick up two more victories.

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