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Contrary to what the raging tweeting faction of the University of Utah fanbase will have you believe, the sky isn’t falling on us after the Utes were heavily beaten on Saturday at BYU.
I’ve spent a lot of time this week writing and talking about the offensive line, the defensive line, what went wrong, what needs to be fixed, Charlie Brewer’s play, etc., but here is one thing I haven’t really touched that needs to be said out loud.
The only thing guaranteed on Saturday is that Utah won’t go to the college football playoffs as he can no longer lead the table and stand as an undefeated Power Five conference champion. This idea was unreasonable, however. To that end, of course, no one is signing up for a loss, but nothing has really happened yet. Whatever is reasonable, whatever is achievable is still on the table for these utes.
Utah can still win the Pac-12 South, Utah can win the Pac-12 championship game, Utah can play in a Rose Bowl for the first time in program history. None of these targets were taken from the Utes in Provo. Utah is playing for Game 14. Not 12, not 13, but 14. Playing a fourteenth is always part of the long term goal.
Did it go well at BYU? No. Are there things to correct? Yes. Is Utah in dire straits? Ha, no. Is the season “over” as some choose to believe? Hahahahaha, no.
Relax, take a tour of the wagons, sit back and see what happens in San Diego State late Saturday afternoon. More importantly, let’s see what happens on September 25 against Washington State, because that’s when it really starts to matter. If we’re sitting here in the days after September 25 and things don’t get better, we can revisit how we choose to view the rest of this season.
FYI, there’s no need to thank me for acting as the moral compass of the Utah fan base. I am happy to do so as a public service.
What’s on my mind, Utah or whatever
• Charlie Brewer is Utah’s starting quarterback, and there’s no good reason he shouldn’t be yet. On the list of issues, or at least things that need to be fixed / tweaked, Brewer’s playing across two games may not even make the top 10. I get it, though. It was a frustrating loss, the offense was fragile, so the quarterback is to blame. Find another hill to die on, fans.
• We haven’t heard the end of Tavion Thomas. Micah Bernard has the juice right now and has earned the right to see a role expanded out of the backfield, but Thomas is too good, brings too much to the table to put him aside after two fumbles in as many games. Thomas will have a role at San Diego State. Bet on it.
• The atmosphere at LaVell Edwards Stadium on Saturday night was there. Strong, committed, complete, probably 95% of the fans in their place for the kick-off at 8:25 p.m. Very impressive, very cool to see it all unfold from the press gallery. The horn assault field was also fun. I like a good assault on the court / court.
• Prohibitive Pac-12 South favorites USC were trained by Stanford and are now looking for a new head coach. UCLA appears to be able to beat anyone in the conference. The state of Arizona has yet to collapse in the face of impending NCAA sanctions. Colorado nearly beat Texas A&M, no one knows what to think of Utah yet. Folks, Pac-12 South is Pac-12, and it’s not even October yet.
• Huge win for Oregon at Ohio State as the Ducks have established themselves as a legitimate contender for the college football playoffs, but again this is the Pac-12, so crowning Oregon at this point still early would be premature. The Ducks surrendered 612 yards of total offense to the Buckeyes, including 484 in the air to sophomore quarterback CJ Stroud. Part of that can be attributed to star rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux and five-star first-year linebacker Justin Flowe being injured and unavailable, but that type of defensive performance should be enough to get everyone thinking about the long-term cap of the Oregon.
• Utah announced a 10-game non-conference schedule Thursday night, which means that the only opening in the schedule it had will not be filled. I wrote it down several times in this space, but let’s resume now that the calendar is finished. These staff have done a good job concocting a schedule under less than ideal circumstances. Walking through the gate at the end of March, they had no MTE planned and were crippled by games against Sacramento State and Fresno State. I look forward to 2022-2023, when the staff have full control over how they program.
Question: “Is it fair to ask if the tragedy and unrest has taken its toll on the coaching staff? “- @RockyMountainBK
A: This is obviously a question relating to the death of Ty Jordan. I also see this as a wild overreaction to the loss of BYU.
In a more general sense, I don’t think it’s an unfair thing to think about or question, but I’m not sure I have a good answer to that.
Has it taken its toll? Well, to some extent I should believe it. Life becomes more difficult, or at least different, when a loved one and / or someone you have cared for passes away. Jordan was 19, a freshman with his whole life ahead of him. The circumstances surrounding his death were difficult, unfair and sadly preventable.
Now consider that these men, Kyle Whittingham, running backs coach Kiel McDonald, the rest of the coaching staff and even athletic director Mark Harlan must have been at the forefront, helping the players cry, s’ expressing publicly on the issue, helping everyone move forward. , helping everyone to prepare for a season, while trying to deal with their own emotions, their own hurt, their own anger.
I won’t pretend to understand how difficult it was for the people inside the Eccles Football Center, but if it got to a point where it was too much for someone to handle, I wouldn’t blame anyone.
Would you like?
Question: “Is cold nitro brew overrated?” “- @iampangean
A: Cold brew and cold nitro brew are grossly overrated, mainly because I drink coffee to wake me up, not to make my heart feel like it’s trying to escape my chest.
Quick Tutorial: Cold Brew, which usually has twice the caffeine in it, is nothing but coffee grounds and water soaked together for at least 12 hours. I used to make cold brew at home and leave it in the fridge. Its good. Nitro Cold Brew is a cold brew that’s loaded with nitrogen, giving it a creamier texture. Big hop. Your more pretentious local cafes will have a cold nitro brew, and it doesn’t come cheap. Walk around with that.
Give me iced coffee, which is normal hot coffee brewed and then cooled, or regular hot coffee poured over ice. I prefer the first, but I’ll settle for the second with a little extra ice.
I became a cafe in my mid-twenties. I regret that.
Question: “If you were Mark Harlan, how would you prioritize future non-conference programming with the conference realignment, the Alliance and playoff expansion on the horizon? Are intersectional games worth more (television and leverage for participation in the Pac-12 playoffs) than traditional local rivalries? Would you continue to schedule home and home with BYU, or would you prioritize two Alliance games each year (one B1G and one ACC)? “- Email Lonnie
A: You who slip three questions into one submission, you really think you’re special, eh?
For the purposes of this exercise, assume that things go as planned and at some point the ACC, Big Ten are playing all eight conference games, leaving four non-conference slots. Of those four, Utah will play an ACC school and a Big Ten school, leaving two non-conference spots up for grabs.
Yes, I think the intersectional games would have more value, both as a TV or streaming product and as resume pieces towards a place in an expanded college football playoff.
I don’t even think there is much debate there. Utah playing other Power Fives is more appealing for both of these reasons than Utah playing an in-state FCS, in-state fives, etc. I’ll say I think local clashes are important and have had a place in the past, but the scenery changes and it always feels like the little guy is getting kicked out.
The last time I spoke with Harlan, BYU, and the Big 12 wasn’t officially a thing, so my thinking about the future of the Utah-BYU series has changed a bit.
I think Utah-BYU is important. I think this should continue, I want this to continue beyond the six games scheduled until 2030, but let’s be rational. If you know that you already play an ACC team and a Big Ten team every year, is it really a good idea to start a Big 12 team there every year?
I say no, but in a few years, yes, play BYU. Don’t let this series go by the wayside, but playing Cougars every year probably makes less sense than 10 days ago.