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SALT LAKE CITY -- What in the world happened after the 27-0 loss at UNLV in 2007? Is that the single-most embarrassing loss in Utah football recent history? How many times did Frank "The Tank" Summers say, "Fill it up again!" during that game? Should Ute fans try to erase that game out of their memory? The answer to that question is a resounding no.
What? Don't erase it? Let's dig into the stats from that disaster in 2007 game before we answer why. Summers had 190 yards rushing on 29 carries. That translated into a 6.6 yard/carry average and two touchdowns. Summers also had one reception for 29 yards and he happened to score on that play as well. The Utah team as a whole gave up 340 yards of offense, turned the ball over four times, and lost the time of possession battle, albeit by just over a minute, but they still lost. They looked awful. The Utes were coming off a 44-6 win over a ranked UCLA team, obviously feeling pretty good about themselves.
Why shouldn't we erase that memory from a few years ago? The most incredibly boring thing happened to the University of Utah football program after that. They learned their clichés. They learned to take it one game at a time. They learned that they need to do whatever they could to help the ball club. They needed to be grateful for the opportunity to play, to play hard, and the good Lord willing, everything will work out. They learned that they couldn't look ahead. They learned the focus they needed to complete a college football schedule. The coaches learned to dot their i's and cross their t's. Since they learned those lessons in 2007, the Utes are 32 and 4. Something happened after that loss. Perhaps nobody in the Utah football program will admit to it, but it opened their eyes.
Saturday's game against the Rebels features some interesting storylines:
Terrance Cain QB Stats
What is the Utah quarterback situation?
It has been well-documented that Jordan Wynn has a sprained thumb. He has been listed as day-to-day and will be a game time decision. I think the Utes will be fine if Cain starts and plays the whole game. I see the Utes giving Eddie Wide and Matt Asiata as many carries as they can handle Saturday. One thing that was extremely evident in UNLV's loss to Wisconsin last week was the dominance on the interior. Utah will be able to push the Rebels around and Ute fans should expect the running backs to have big days. Who is Bobby Hauck and can he help the UNLV football program?
Hauck was the head coach at Montana since 2002. He went 80-17 in his time there and took the Grizzlies to three FCS title games. He has an impressive resume and Kyle Whittingham respects him, "Coach Hauck is in a situation where it's going to take some time, to get his players recruited to do the things he wants to do, but I think he is off to a great start and I think it showed in the way they played intensity wise and emotionally. He is going to do a very good job there."
Red Zone Efficiency (2009 and 2010 seasons)
Will the Utes make the improvements needed to be an elite team?
The Utes will be looking to clean it up. 11 penalties in the game against Pittsburgh, turnovers on special teams, there is no doubt that Utah will have spent time on those areas this week in practice. It is widely known and discussed that a football team will make its most improvement from week one to week two. We shall see. Defensively, look to see the line dominate. They will be in the backfield all afternoon.
Offensively, does Wynn play? If not, how does Cain handle the situation? Either way, expect the Utes to establish the run. Don't be surprised to see both Eddie Wide and Matt Asiata with 20 carries, each.
Countdown to the PAC-12:
This is the last time the Utes will play UNLV as a member of the Mountain West Conference.