Forget the Swamp, forget SUU, SDSU and definitely forget the ASU game – the Beavs are our first serious test in 2022, if we’re going to go back to the Rose Bowl.
We’re at Game 5, both teams should have their correctable problems largely addressed, and both teams are dead serious about wanting to play in Las Vegas to determine who will represent the PAC in Pasadena on January 1, 2023.
Utah remembers the sting of getting ambushed in Corvalis last year, and there won’t be any deficit of motivation or focus for this game. Oregon State lost a game they should have won against USC at home on Saturday, but it would be a mistake to assume they have a hangover about what might have been.
Utes Offense vs OS Defense
The Beavs are really aggressive on defensive, with an odd front and lots of athletes who swarm and cover very effectively. We all remember it well.
The Utes offense took a major blow when TE Brandt Kuithe’s season ended in Tempe, though Dalton Kincaid #86 has been highly effective, and Thomas Yassmin #87 took no time in getting himself on the highlight reel with a 58 yard reception. USC transfer McClain Munir #4 had snaps vs ASU, so don’t be surprised when his name is called.
To help buffer the loss of Kuithe, the Utes WR corps proved their larger presence against SUU wasn’t a one-shot performance, with Devaughn Vele #17 and Solomon Enis #21 in particular having good performances vs ASU. Jaylen Dixon #25 added a TD on a jet sweep, and the other jet quick WR Money Parks #10 is showing the praise from fall camp wasn’t false.
The RB room got a little bigger after Chris Curry went down against SUU, with QB3 Ja’Quinden Jackson #3 showing the talent & character he brings to the team, not content to ride the bench behind Rising and Barnes. Freshman Jaylon Glover #1 showed how he ran for 6000 yards in his HS career in Florida, a nice combination of power & elusiveness at 5-7/205. The Utes have four legit RBs, with Micah Bernard #2 in particular a serious pass threat, and Tavion Thomas #9 looking to continue the breakout performance he had last year.
The OL appears to be gelling as expected, and though they don’t always blow massive holes in the defense, at the P5 level and above that’s a rare phenomenon.
OS Offense vs Utah Defense
It’s still early in the season, but USC’s defense was not supposed to be really strong, so it’s unclear why the Beavs only got 14 points in that big game at home. QB Chance Nolan is more than a game manager, but OS does rely a lot on the run game… another memory from last year’s game. Nolan threw 4 picks vs USC, so he’ll want to atone for that performance, but threw to 7 receivers in that game, including a 30 yard rumble by tough guy Jack Colletto, who seems to be the heart and soul of the offense.
The Beavs ran for 167 against USC (including sack yard deductions) so the Utes’ defensive status as run stoppers will unquestionably be put to the test on Saturday. Long gone is Baylor, who terrorized us in Corvalis. The top RB appears to be #8 Jam Griffin, a 5-9/210 lb SO from Georgia.
This hasn’t been a pivotal aspect for either team so far this year, but football is a three phase game, so don’t be surprised if ST is a major factor on Saturday.
OS Head Coach Jonathan Smith is the real deal, he’s the coach that program has been searching for, was a nice QB for them when they had notable success. Smith has quickly instilled toughness and discipline in a program that was bouncing around in the lower third of the league, and he’s recruited impressive talent.
The game is a 12 noon kick, which is 11am in Corvalis, so it’s possible there could be a slow start for the Beavs, but I wouldn’t count on it. It will be important for Utah to start fast and strong, because Oregon State is a team that will beat you if you don’t bring your A-game.
My sense is Utah knows everything that is on the line with this game, and dropping this one if not optional if we’re going to play in Las Vegas, and then (hopefully) in Pasadena. Our player leadership will make sure the players are primed, and the coaches will have a solid game plan ready.
I’d bet Smith knows he’ll need to be unconventional on offense to have success against our D, so it will be a tough combination of playing disciplined in assignments, along with enough punch to bottle up their run game. We struggled with that combination last year, I sense Scalley, Bishop, Tafuna, Phillips, Fillinger and the Reid brothers want that game to be seen as an unambiguous anomaly.
On Offense, Ludwig and Rising have a number of weapons to try and make the Beaver defense wilt in the high desert in the sun. A fast start is the preference, of course, but if need be it may take a while to see where we need to attack their D, and with what weapons, what plays.
I think the Utes get redemption for last year.