Summer is what some would consider a win-lose situation. The weather is great, but the sports aren’t. Thankfully that time of the year has come and gone. Football takes center stage now, and we’ve finally got our first look at the three major in-state football teams. Let’s take a look at what we learned about each team after week one.
Let’s start with the Utah Utes. They beat the Aggies of Utah State, 30-26. Travis Wilson was better than I expected him to be. I thought he was the third best quarterback in the state. That hasn’t changed, but he proved he is going to be a solid quarterback. He made plays when he needed to, and his poise late in the game was impressive for a sophomore. Ute fans should be happy with his progress from last season. The skier converted kicker was also a pleasant surprise.
There were a lot more negatives than positives for Utah. Their secondary is the weakest it’s ever been. Case and point: the Aggie touchdown late in the first half. It was a simple fade route that led to an easy touchdown. Utah has defended that play better in the past.
Even though the Utes rushed for over 140 yards on offense, I walked away unimpressed with their running backs. A co-worker of mine said that Kelvin York, the Utes starter going into the Utah State game, had NFL potential. I could be wrong here, but NFL players don’t usually get benched after the first quarter of their first game as a starter. Even the back-up didn’t live up to the hype. Karl Williams, the third string walk-on running back, was the only Ute to score a touchdown on the ground. Williams struggled as well. Late in the game he had a chance to finish it with another touchdown, but he was stuffed at the goal line on three consecutive rushes.
Utah State fans should feel crushed. The Aggies should have won that game. Missed opportunities and mental mistakes were the difference. The Aggies won every statistical category, except for the actual score. With that being said, I think Aggie fans should feel encouraged about several things.
Utah State has identified play-makers at the wide receiver position. Travis Van Leeweun, from Timpview High School, showed he is capable of making big plays. The offensive line was also a positive. They had the most experienced offensive line in the state, and it showed. They did a good job of giving Chuckie Keeton plenty of time to make plays.
Chuckie Keeton, by the way, is unreal. He’s the best quarterback this state has seen in quite some time. Call me crazy, but I think he’s better than John Beck and Alex Smith. Alex Smith only played two years of college football and John Beck only had two good seasons out of the four he played for BYU. Keeton has been good since playing as a freshman, and he’s only getting better. It wasn’t his fault Utah State lost. If Utah State recovers the onside kick, rather than Utah, the Aggies walk out of Salt Lake City victorious.
BYU was a difficult team to evaluate, because of the field conditions. The images that came out of Charlottesville, VA were incredible. The locker rooms and hallways were flooded and the field looked like a swamp once the storm passed. Unfortunately for BYU, field conditions don’t justify key mistakes at critical times.
Jamaal Williams is the real deal. He will end up as the best BYU running back of all-time, if he stays in school all four years. My prediction, when it’s all said and done, is that he becomes one of the top three running backs in state history. He is that good.
Sadly, the five large bodies who are supposed to open holes for him are not that good. BYU was worried about their offensive line going into the opener, and they validated that concern. They had trouble opening holes, and they repeatedly got beat on passing plays. If they don’t improve dramatically, BYU could be looking at a bowl-less season.
The Cougar defense is better than expected. They held Virginia to 3.1 yards per play. That’s rock solid. That’s a top 10 caliber performance once again. The secondary proved capable, and I think this defense will continue its tradition of being one of the nation’s best.
Taysom Hill, the new Cougar QB, can’t be adequately evaluated. I know his completion percentage was atrocious at 33 percent but have you ever tried throwing a football that’s dripping because it’s so wet? It’s impossible. The weather greatly affected his play, and if you can’t admit that, then you don’t know sports very well. I give him a pass and will wait to know more after his performance versus Texas.
My underlying evaluation of all three teams is this: there isn’t a team in this state that will challenge for a BCS bowl game. A bowl game for any of these three teams should be considered a positive considering the schedule of all three team