The Washington State Cougars haven’t faced the Utah Utes since 2014, which means it’s possible the last thing you remember about Kyle Whittingham’s crew is that they blew a 21-0 first quarter lead in Salt Lake City the last time these two teams met.
What will the Cougs be facing when they travel to Rice-Eccles Stadium this time? We caught up with Shane Roberts from our friends at Block U to get some thoughts.
CougCenter: How are you feeling about curb stomping UCLA? Like the season's back on track after that four-game skid? Or still uneasy?
Block U: It feels back on track, overall, but there are still some reservations about parts of the team. The offense seemingly figured things out, even though UCLA is terrible on defense. On defense we aren’t seeing the havoc plays like we’re used to, namely sacks, so it’ll be interesting to see how that progresses.
How has Utah's offensive philosophy changed this year with Troy Taylor as offensive coordinator? Will fans see something different than what they were accustomed to seeing under Kyle Whittingham?
The Utes are way more efficient through the air, and Tyler Huntley isn’t scared to attack you in all phases. Normally, Utah has been very ground and pound, this year it’s more the opposite, the Utes have been better through the air.
What dynamic does quarterback Tyler Huntley bring that Troy Williams didn't?
Tyler’s ceiling is crazy high, and he’s so efficient in passing the ball. Williams was always around a 50% completion percentage, where Huntley is around 65%, and that’s very promising for the young QB. Huntley is also a true dual threat, and he likes to break out of the pocket and catch wides out down field when DBs turn their head. As long as the damn o-line doesn’t get called for ineligible penalties, he opens up the field unlike a QB we’ve seen in a long time.
Utah hasn't faced many high-volume passing teams. How are you feeling about facing the unique animal that is the Air Raid?
It’s a great question. Utah has a very young secondary, but they are very talented, especially true freshman Jaylon Johnson, he’s special. What I think it comes down to, though, is if Utah can get some pressure on Falk. Falk likes to hold onto the ball and take his time in the pocket, and Utah needs to make him pay for it. If Utah can get him moving around and out of the pocket, that’ll help out the youngsters on the backend.
If Utah wins the game, it's probably going to happen like this:
Utah wins both lines of scrimmage. Utah’s o-line, which is replacing 4 guys that were drafted, has been up and down. If they can give Huntley time, and Zack Moss holes to run through, I think the offense will be able to move the ball. On defense, like I said above, if the front can get to Falk, that will create some opportunities to make some big plays. It’ll be tough, but I think Utah has the guys to do it.