SALT LAKE CITY — In a game of inches, timing is everything. The difference between winning and losing a football game can simply be having a player in the right place at the right time.
For Utah senior LB Brian Blechen, being in the right place at the right time is something that he has made him stand out from the pack in his first three years up on the hill.
In his first ever college game, Blechen intercepted a Pitt pass in overtime, setting up a game winning field goal. Later that year, he intercepted a San Diego State pass in the end zone to preserve a 38-34 win over the Aztecs.
Blechen finished his freshman season with 67 tackles, four interceptions and was named to four freshman All-American teams. The future looked bright for "the Beekeeper", but as is the case with everything in life, things don't always go the way that we think they should.
Sidelined with a three game suspension and a pretty bad case of tendonitis have both slowed down the safety now turned linebacker over the last two seasons.
|2012||9||38||20||58||--||3.5 /11||1||--||5||1 /4|
|2011||13||44||34||78||2 /12||8 /19||3||--||2||3 /60|
|2010||13||37||30||67||1.5 /19||3.5 /25||2||1||5||4 /16|
|TOTAL||35||119||84||203||3.5 /31||15 /55||6||1||12||8 /80|
But one thing has always remained constant — Blechen's football IQ is off the charts.
Though the Utes had a disastrous 2012 campaign, Blechen made sure they at least ended on a positive note, clinching a 42-35 win over Colorado with a late interception.
Whether it is a game saving interception, a big hit or a crucial pass breakup, if he can stay healthy, Brian Blechen has a chance to be Utah's next "Star" in 2013.
What to expect in 2013
Brian Blechen is a very physical, almost violent football player. Blechen's senior year will put him at linebacker which is he has basically been — a linebacker playing safety.
Playing Blechen at linebacker does many things for the Utah defense, but greatest of all it adds speed. Speed has been one of Utah's greatest deficiencies since joining the Pac-12 conference. Blechen is not a fast safety, but will be a fast linebacker.
Because of Blechen coming in, it takes out a slower player and also leaves a spot for Tevin Carter (slated to start on post-spring depth chart) who is supposed to be a speedster at safety to replace Blechen's spot.
Getting Blechen closer to the line of scrimmage will put him in better play-making positions for him. He is simply not fast enough to cover wide receivers. However, he has a better chance covering tight ends from the linebacker position. This also gives him a chance to be more of an instinctual disruptive player as he can drop into coverage, play the run (which he is very good at), and rush the passer if his number is called.
There is one main issue that would hinder not only the move the linebacker but Blechen's senior season. It is the same reason that kept him out of spring for precautionary reasons. Blechen has some tendonitis in his knee that is being rehabbed. It is simple, fix the tendonitis and the Utes will have a great linebacker. If the knee continues to force Blechen to miss time it could really hurt a defense that needs not only a playmaker, but a senior leader.
A career that started with a game-clinching interception against Pittsburgh is primed to have a big senior season to finish his career at Utah off right.