So let's pretend the Utes are without running back John White and safety Eric Rowe on Saturday, which absence do you think would hurt the Utes more?
If it were last year I'd say certainly John White's. He was the steadying force and the only consistent producer for the offense.
This year though, I'm saying it would be Rowe's. As Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said Tuesday, the Utes are suddenly extremely thin in the safety positions, starting with Brian Blechen's suspension.
Strong safety Quade Chappuis is doing what he can, but still, he isn't the kind of player a team is going to hesitate to challenge. Moreover, corner Moe Lee was worked over by Utah State Friday. If BYU paid attention to that film, you can bet the senior is going to get tested again and again.
Finally, Utah's linebackers might be talented but they are still inexperienced. Put it all together and the Utes just don't seem to have much in the way of options to shore up their defense.
Backup safeties Terrell Reese, Michael Walker and Tyron Morris-Edwards all made some nice plays in fall camp, but can they make great plays consistently in a game? We might find out.
As far as the offense goes, all camp the Utes have talked about how many playmakers this team has. If that is true, the Utes should be able to cover for White's absence to some degree.
Freshman Jarrell Oliver is extremely fast but needs Utah's suspect offensive line to open up some holes for him.
Better options for the Utes might be DeVonte Christopher and Dres Anderson. Both receivers have the ability to turn short passes into big gains.
Also, don't forget the tight ends and their abilities. Dallin Rogers, Jake Murphy and David Rolf are all physical players the Utes have planned to use in a variety of ways, including some two-back sets. Now might be a good time to experiment with that plan.
Finally, Jon Hays is a better quarterback than he was last year. He looked improved in both spring and fall camp and looked more confident against Utah State than he ever did last year. He might not be a marquee quarterback in the Pac-12, but he should be able to get the ball to Utah's playmakers.
Those are my thoughts, yours?
- Lya Wodraska
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