It happens. Unless you're one of the top 10 teams or so in the country, you're generally going to lay an egg at some point every season. It's that game where the opponent is clicking on all cylinders and you can't do anything on either side of the ball. That was Utah on Saturday as the Wildcats of Arizona dominated a game that ended Utah's bid for a Pac 12 South title.
We can play the blame game with the offense (again) and tell you that Travis Wilson was terrible (again) or that the playmakers aren't there at receiver (again) or that the revolving door of offensive coordinators has kept the offense from developing (again), but those story lines are old and played out at this point. Utah's offense is bad. It has been all season. It's a one man show in Devontae Booker and everything else is a sack of burnt cat hair wrapped in a moldy onion with Yakety Sax as a theme song playing on a loop. It's an embarrassment that we're back at square 1 with the QB situation. It's an embarrassment that Utah can't decide what kind of offense they run. It's an embarrassment that despite great defense and special teams each and every season, Utah's offense keeps them from something special.
Arizona was the better team yesterday. Arizona is the better team. They may be the best team in the Pac 12 South. They may even be the best team in the entire Pac 12. What they did yesterday was surprising and probably their best performance of the season (including their win at Oregon), but that's a fairly complete team. I didn't think they were that good, but what we saw at Rice-Eccles wasn't an accident. Utah lost to a better team. No shame in that. The issue was how they lost. Utah came out with little energy, little fire, couldn't do anything on offense, the defense looked slow, and things fell apart pretty early. Not sure how that happens on senior day with so much on the line, outside of one ingredient that was missing yesterday; No Gionni Paul.
Kyle Whitingham can sit there and say that not having Gionni Paul out there wasn't a factor, but that's far from the truth. This defense is completely different when Paul is on the field. It's nasty, it's tough, and Paul is so instinctual that he's able to cover the mistakes made by others time and time again. Utah, without Gionni Paul, doesn't beat UCLA, Oregon State, USC, and maybe even Stanford. Nate Orchard gets the headlines, and he should considering what he's done this season, but Paul is the most VALUABLE player on this D. It's not close. He was missed yesterday more than anyone could have predicted after we saw missed tackles, missed assignments, and guys out of position over and over again. Get well Gionni. The Utes will need you in 2015. You're that good and that valuable.
So what's next? As my cousin told his wife when she went into labor with their first child, 'It's time to buck up and get this done.' That's what Saturday's Rocky Mountain Showdown in Boulder is all about. Take down an inferior opponent and close out the regular season with a resounding 8th win that gets this team to a win total that most Ute fans dare didn't dream of before the season started. Then use the two weeks of bowl practices and the bowl game to decide what the future of this offense is going to look like and who the quarterback is going to be going forward. If that's Wilson, fine. At least we know what we're getting. If you want a possibility at more, but also the risk of less out of the quarterback spot, hands the reigns over to Manning, Cox or Isom. At this point, anything different at the quarterback spot sounds like a good option, otherwise the future may end up looking more and more like the present, and the ultimate goal of winning a conference title, will continue to remain out of reach.
Arizona Runs Over the Utes
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