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The Utah Utes are 4-0 this season for the first time since 2004. While this 4-0 record was expected by some, the Utes have to feel fortunate after almost giving away games against Michigan the first week of the season, and this last week against the Air Force Academy. This week the Utes welcome Weber State into Rice-Eccles Stadium, which will surely be an emotional return for Weber State Head Coach Ron McBride.
What did we learn about Utah vs. Air Force?
10 of the last 11 games against the Falcons have been decided by 10 points or less, so what did we learn about Utah from the Air Force game? Not as much as you would think. The Utes survived another tough one from the cadets. This always seems to be the case. Air Force presents tough match-ups for Utah and if you can mark one on the win column in this series, you did your job. There is one thing that solidified what we knew about the Utes and that is that the defense is dominant. Holding the Falcons to 53 yards rushing, 300 yards below their average of 353 is definitely of note. Even though Air Force quarterback Shea Smith went 7/13 for 138 yards and a touchdown (2 INT's) shouldn't really concern Ute fans. The Utes went into the game trying to stop the Falcons #1 chance at winning and they dominated the game.
What questions remain about Utah?
There are questions that remain about Utah, many questions. The biggest question mark continues to be mistakes. This week it seemed to be something we haven't seen since the Michigan game. Brian Johnson had many difficulties in the pocket this last week. The Falcons rushed Brian Johnson hard from the defensive line and the secondary stayed with the Utah receivers long enough to make Johnson indecisive. Johnson held on to the ball in the pocket versus the Falcons. We saw this in the 2nd half of the Michigan game as well. The Utes need to work Brian Johnson into a rhythm more if they can. One thing that would have helped Johnson versus Air Force is the running game. It was a very good running performance by the Utes for most of the game, but for some reason in that 2nd quarter, Andy Ludwig was interested in throwing the ball. With the Utes up 9-0, Darrel Mack and Matt Asiata already had a 5-yard average for the game. It would have been nice to see the Utes stick with their 2 backs and take the ball away from the Air Force offense. In the 2nd half, that is what Utah did. Mack and Asiata ran where they wanted to. Mack had 18 carries for 101 yards and 3 TD's while Asiata had 19 carries for 116 yards. In this specific game it would have been nice to see the Utes put the game away very early when they had the chance to do it, and they did have the chance to bury the Falcons early.
What can Utah expect from Weber State?
The Utes can expect the Wildcats to play hard. Earlier this season the wildcats gave Hawaii everything they could handle for about 2 ½ quarters. Offensively the Wildcats go to former Springville High star Trevyn Smith. He is averaging just over 88 yards a game. Quarterback Cameron Higgins has been very good for Weber State this year and is coming off a great week at Sacramento State where he was 21/33 for 380 yards and 4 touchdowns.
What can we expect from Utah vs. Weber State?
While this game will be emotional for Head Coach Ron McBride and Kyle Whittingham, there isn't any reason for Ute fans to be concerned about Weber State. The Utes are much stronger at all positions. Ron McBride will have his team ready to play hard but this game should be over early. The Utah defense should keep Trevyn Smith in check and the Utah Offense which has had no problems putting up yards and points should have no trouble ending this game early.
The Utes and the Wildcats have only played twice with the Utes winning both games in 1978 and 1984.
This should be a fun game because of the in-state factor and the relationship between Utes Head Coach Kyle Whittingham and Wildcats Head Coach Ron McBride. Other than that, the Utah Football team should get some rest in this game. If the 1st team offense and defense are still in through the 3rd quarter, it means Head Coach Kyle Whittingham wants his guys to simply get some extra reps. Utah fans should look for the Utes to be 5-0 and working to get healthy to face PAC-10 Oregon State next Thursday night.