The Utah Utes are hopeful they can break their losing streak here in Corvallis, but I'm not so sure. Picking Oregon State to win and go 6-0 for the first time in program history. That being said, here are a few things the Utes have to do to have a shot at an upset.
1. Start fast. Night games in Corvallis are nutty with a jacked up crowd in a small, loud stadium. The Utes would be well served to put together a solid drive to take some of the frenzy out of the home crowd and allow quarterback Travis Wilson to settle in. It would be ideal if that drive featured running back John White a lot, but I'm not convinced the Utes can run against the Beavers.
Perhaps the best solution would be to open up with a few slant plays that have worked so well for the Utes to give Wilson a few plays to settle down then let him take some shots downfield.
1. Get John White involved. White may not be able to dominate the Beavers' defense like he did last year when he ran for 205 yards, but the Utes have to have some semblance of a run game to at least make OSU respect that phase of the game. Otherwise, Oregon State's defense is going to key on Travis Wilson and make life very, very hard for the freshman. Utah's offensive line might be improved, but not enough to handle a full-on assault by Oregon State.
The best case scenario is for Wilson to be able to stretch the field with some shots downfield to give White a bit of room to run.
2. Get pressure on the QB. The Utes can't afford to let Vaz get comfortable in the pocket, if he does, he and speedy receivers Markus Wheaton and Brandin Cooks are going to pick apart the Utes' defense.
Star Lotulelei has had some brilliant moments this year. Tonight would be a good time for a few more.
3. Tackle better. Defensive end Trevor Reilly said the Utes needed to get back to basics in practice and work on their tackling. The Utes can't afford to have such fundamental breakdowns like they did against UCLA.
4. Win special teams. Oregon State has plenty of firepower and a talented enough defense to beat the Utes, but Utah can help itself with field position and solid special teams. The one big weakness in Utah's special teams is field goal kicking. Whittingham doesn't have much faith in Coleman Petersen's ability even though he is 3-of-4 from 40-49 yards. Look for the Utes to go for it on fourth down as they did against UCLA, particularly if the weather is bad tonight.
5. Be willing to adjust the offense. The Utes have been slow to make adjustments during games with their offense. Why that is could be a combination of factors including an inexperienced coordinator, using three different quarterbacks and major changes to the offensive philosophy. The Utes believe they've found some consistency in their offense. It's time they show some variety too, they're probably going to need it to beat the Beavers.
Switching to the NFL, former Ute linebacker Koa Misi pleaded no contest to felony battery Friday and paid $42,000 to a Santa Barbara man who he punched in April of 2011. Misi also agreed to 400 hours of community service, according to the Santa Barbara News-Press.
Misi was a two-time all MWC honoree and three-year starter from the Utes from 2007-2009. He was drafted by Miami in 2010 as the 40th overall pick.
Prosecutors say Misi broke down the apartment door and struck the man in the face after the man made comments to Misi and his friends from a balcony while the group walked down the street.
I remember Misi not only for his hard-hitting ways as a Utah football player, but his calm demeanor off the field, so it was surprising to hear he was involved in such an incident last year.
Here is hoping he can learn from it, put it behind him and move on in his life and career.