Utah at San Jose State
Saturday, 7:30 pm PT - CBSC
CRIS Opener: Utah -12.5 O/U 50.5
CRIS Current: Utah -13 O/U 50
Last season, quarterback Travis Wilson, running back Devontae Booker, receivers Britain Covey and Kenneth Scott, and a top-tier defense, helped the Utah Utes post an impressive 10-3 record. The offense wasn't always pretty but the team's balanced attack (180 ypg passing/183 ypg rushing) and a +13 turnover margin led to a fairly impressive 30.6 ppg. Through two weeks, it's clear that this year's edition of the offense is going to need more time to develop as all of the aforementioned offensive playmakers have departed.
Here are a couple of quotes from Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham following last week's 20-19 win over BYU.
"Troy's still learning," Whittingham said. "He's got some things to learn. You can't put the ball particularly in the red zone in that kind of traffic. If we don't turn it over six times, it's a whole different game."
"The drive we ended up kicking the field goal — that's who we can be and need to be," he said. "That smashmouth, down-your-throat football."
Whittingham is first discussing first-year transfer quarterback Troy Williams who finished with three interceptions. Next, he discusses a fourth quarter drive that defied the laws of math by taking up 11:12 (19 plays, 78 yards). And instead of capitalizing, the Utes settled for a field goal, something that Whittingham was actually excited about. Despite a -3 turnover margin, the Utes managed to pull off the win but we can expect a very conservative attack moving forward as the offense tries to find its way before PAC-12 play.
This week's opponent, San Jose State, sets up well for Utah's defense. In Week 1, the Spartans managed only 287 yards and 10 points against an improved but still ultra-soft Tulsa defense. And going back to last season, San Jose State had difficulty moving the football against better competition. Against Air Force, Oregon State, San Diego State, and BYU, the Spartans averaged only 240 ypg of total offense. And that was with first-team all-MWC do-everything running back Tyler Ervin who has since graduated. San Jose State's loss to San Diego State was a pretty good barometer of what we can expect in this contest. Both teams combined for 121 plays and the Aztecs held the Spartans to 148 total yards en route to a 30-7 win. With San Jose getting the opportunity to host a power conference team, I also think we're in better position for some adequate defensive resistance by the underdog. In the end, all signs point toward this game going under the total.