Monson: Utah wins, but it can’t beat the Theory of Relativity
Published: September 1, 2012 10:07PM
Updated: August 31, 2012 08:53AM
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Paul Fraughton | The Salt Lake Tribune Utah players thank their fans in the MUSS after defeating Northern Colorado 41-0 on Aug. 30.

The Theory of Relativity ruined everything but the partying at Rice-Eccles Stadium on Thursday night, and it was, indeed, attributable to equations of mass and energy.

Utah had all of it, Northern Desperation had none.

Any questions?

Yeah, there are still plenty, while answers are yet in short supply, and here’s why: No matter what the Utes accomplished in their opener here, including the final score of 41-zip, they did it against one of the worst football teams in the country, a second-tier outfit coming off a winless, 10th-tier season.

Everybody knew that coming in.

Including the Utes themselves.

Kyle Whittingham said before and after the game that his team was supposed to win. Defensive end/linebacker Trevor Reilly was candid about that in the postgame, saying, in so many words, that the Utes were the bigger, badder team before this thing was ever played.

That fact pretty much canceled out any usefulness any fool wanted to attach to the outcome. It was simply a win, bought with the few hundred thousand large Utah handed over to the N. Colorado Bears for their trouble. It was college football’s version of prostitution.

Wham … bam … and the Utes got what they paid for — an easy, empty victory.

When Whittingham was asked afterward what he learned from the game, he said: “That’s a good question.”

He later added: “We understand there are bigger challenges on the horizon.”

The main tidbits culled from watching were: Jordan Wynn’s arm didn’t fall off when he threw the ball — “Overall, I was pretty pleased with my performance,” he said — and Brian Johnson can, it turns out, call plays from the booth without a brain freeze, a fact that left Whittingham satisfied.

Johnson’s new offense is all over the place and much more adventurous than Norm Chow’s was a year ago. How effective it will be against teams that actually match up against Utah … well, that information comes later in the course of study.

John White, who gained 119 yards, with a TD, on 24 carries, is already convinced: “The new offense is really explosive and balanced. It’s going to be that way the entire season. I can’t wait.”

The defense was decent, too.

“They couldn’t run on us,” said defensive end Joe Kruger, “and that’s our No. 1 priority every game. … Just shove it down their throat.”

Kruger wasn’t bad at stopping the pass, either, picking off a Bear throw early in the fourth quarter and taking it 23 yards to the house for Utah’s final score.

The relative numbers read like this: The Utes outgained UNC, 414 yards to 114. The Utes had 193 rushing yards to the Bears’ 35. The Utes had 221 passing yards to UNC’s 79. The Utes scored six touchdowns to the Bears’ none. After a slow offensive start, Utah plowed ahead and the defense kept it there.

It was dogged, determined defensive dominance against a team destiny demanded had to be deterred, destroyed and dominated.

Simply said, there was a whole lotta D.

Offensively, Whittingham said the Utes “didn’t stretch the field enough. We just have to get better.”

The defense, he said, “did exactly what it was supposed to do.”

Still, it didn’t mean that much because … well, nothing did on Thursday night. A potentially good team beat a lousy one. It was the football equivalent of watching a five-ton steamroller move over a tomato. Yeah, the tomato got smashed. No revolutionary physics there, and no brave new lessons learned. Those will have to come in the weeks ahead.

It took no Einstein to understand and concede that.

Never had relative theory been more in force.

GORDON MONSON hosts “The Big Show” weekdays from 3-7 p.m. on 1280 and 960 AM The Zone. Twitter: @GordonMonson.