HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE WIN OVER CALIFORNIA

Where do I start? How about first time starter Alex Smith under center? How about yet another stand out performance from Brandon Warfield? Paris Warren = playmaker. And how about that Ute defense when the game was on the line? They did more than just rise to the occasion, they changed the game.

Traditionally speaking, I think statistics are somewhat misleading. Outside of turnover margin, rushing totals and field position due to special teams a lot of statistics can be taken to be more than they really are.

If you want to start with a statistic, however, start with Smith. He was 18-27 for 136 yards with countless clutch third down and fourth down conversions, and more importantly, no interceptions.

No matter who you are it would impossible not to give him a thumbs up for his fourth quarter performance. Even after taking all of the big hits Smith still delivered when the Utes were down 21-24. He led the Utes down the Field for the tying field goal, and then did so again for the go-ahead touchdown to put the Utes up for good 31-24 with 1:06 remaining on the clock.

Alex Smith gets my game ball.

BIG PLAYS

Every game has a turning point, or at least several in a back and forth struggle. The Bears found themselves down 21-7 going into halftime so you have to give them credit for fighting there way back. It's hard not to see a bright future for California signal caller Aaron Rodgers. That young man has a cannon for an arm. Problem is, the biggest play of the night was his fumble that was recovered by Utah defensive tackle Sione Pouha. Nice hands big fella!

There were countless plays from Warfield that we can talk about too. Some of his best runs did not go for big yardage however. On a few plays Warfield did his best to just get back to the line of scrimmage. The Bears really stacked the line of scrimmage with eight men and really tried to take him out of the game.

Mr. Warren, my man. He catches everything thrown his way. Nine receptions for 66 yards is definitely worth mentioning. I love the direct snap to him, especially after trying the pass the play before with Warren at quarterback that was almost intercepted by the Bears. Warren has really good vision and that big play running play helped set up Warfield's third touchdown of the night on the option play to the right out of the shot gun formation. Nice play call by the Utes coaching staff in both situations. Really nice.

The defense, well, the short yardage stops and the big fumble recovery by Morgan Scalley to stop a drive deep in Ute territory come to mind. And let us not forget the Ute defensive front. They kept the Bears rushing attack under wraps (119 yards on 34 attempts). If not for that, Rodgers would have really went off with a running game to work with.

Is there a more instinctive safety than Dave Revill in college football? That young man makes a lot of plays.

PLAY CALL SELECTION

I love the bunch formation and then giving the ball to Warfield on the pitch. Especially when the Utes went on a quick count in the first half to catch the Bears knapping. Great coaching and execution all-around by the Utes.

And hats off to whichever coach decided to go with the blitz at the end of the game. Rodgers was not ready for it and he coughed up the football. It drives me crazy when teams go into the prevent defense. Be aggressive and make a play. The Ute dense was able to do just that.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Remember my making mention of the Utes going after the Cal punter? I knew they would, and sure enough it paid off when Cal's protection broke down and Frederickson couldn't get a punt off and was stuffed in the backfield. That was huge.

FINAL ANALYSIS

The Utes did not always look pretty, but against a quality opponent a win is a win. I expect Smith to improve quite a bit and for the coaching staff to let him take a few more shots down the field in upcoming weeks. It should be fun to watch. And oh how I like the Utes defensive line. It's going to be really hard to run on the Utes all year long.

Hats off once again to everyone in the Ute program. Fifteen days until the Utes invade For Collins, where coach Meyer used to be the wide receiver coach…


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