Column from an Arizona paper takes a look at the age difference between Utah's players and Arizona's. While the writer doesn't come out and say the Utes have an unfair advantage by using return missionaries, it sure comes close.
Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez is quoted on the difference in age as saying, "A lot of people talk about young players being inexperienced but I think the biggest factor is strength," he said. "You're not as strong when you're 18 or 19 as you are when you're 22, 23, or 25."
This certainly isn't a new thought, that Utah or BYU or other teams that have many return missionaries on their teams have an advantage in age, but I'd say there can be just as many misses as there are hits. Sometimes players return and they just aren't at the same level or can't get back to the same level as they were before they left. Serving missions isn't exactly like attending a two-year weight lifting camp after all.
Sometimes players go on missions and never return at all as they head to another program or maybe give up the sport altogether.
The Utes may have an advantage when it comes to strength in older players, but is it enough to translate to a win on Saturday? Is Rodriguez doing a little too much pre-game whining?
- Lya Wodraska
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