Utah football: Bye week should allow Utes to regroup
The Utah Utes spent most of the offseason plotting how they could win games with Matt Asiata while they broke in a new quarterback.
Now they have two weeks to figure out how to win without him.
"It's a good time for a bye week," Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said Saturday in the understatement of the night, following the Utes' 30-14 win over Louisville.
The Utes desperately need the time to recover from a game in which they not only lost Asiata for the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, but may have also lost defender Lei Talamaivao, who cracked his fibula.
In addition, offensive lineman Zane Beadles suffered a deep laceration on his leg that ended his night early and defensive back Joe Dale was hampered by mysterious cramping/tightening in his legs.
Sophomore Mychal Robinson suffered an ankle injury and running back Eddie Wide, now the starter in Asiata's absence, suffered a hip injury that temporarily sidelined him. Also going out, with a hip problem, was defensive back Lamar Chapman.
The Utes, who will practice only on Tuesday and Wednesday this week, hope most of the injured players can heal in time to play at Colorado State on Oct. 10.
Their biggest focus scheming-wise will be at running back, although Whittingham said the Utes might not need to make many adjustments if Wide can continue to produce like he did Saturday.
He had a career-high 19 carries for 129 yards in Asiata's absence. Wide can't be expected to average 20-plus carries like the Utes wanted Asiata to, Whittingham said, but if Utah can get backup Sausan Shakerin healthy (shoulder, wrist) and can work receiver Shaky Smithson into the running back rotation more, the Utes might be all right.
"We'll find a way to piece it together," Whittingham said.
Smithson, who practiced some at running back prior to the Louisville game, had four carries for 18 yards.
Outside of the injuries and the challenges they present, the Utes said they are satisfied with where they are as a team heading into the break.
The offense had its best game, although it continues to get bogged down in the second and third quarters. Against Louisville, the Utes managed only 118 yards in the second and third quarters combined.
Defensively, the Utes also improved against the run, holding the Cardinals to 80 yards rushing in an effort that senior Kepa Gaison termed as "redemption" for the Utes' poor showing against Oregon when they allowed 217 rushing yards.
Overall, the game was "a good time to find ourselves," offensive lineman Tony Bergstrom said.
Now, it's a good time to get healthy.
Oct. 10, 4 p.m., the Mtn.