Estimated read time: 14-15 minutes
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End of 4th Quarter
Facing a critical 3rd down, Utah tries to throw a screen pass that is well read by the Lobo defense. If I am Utah, why not run a route where the receiver tries to catch it past the first down mark? Instead, the Utes will punt the ball and put the game in the hands of the defense. The Lobos are out of timeouts and will start the drive inside their own 1 yard line. Another great punt by Sakoda. He has placed 2 punts inside the 5 yard line.
Utah's defense is putting a lot of pressure on QB Brad Gruner. Gruner is able to complete 1 of 3 passes for a 2 yard gain, but now face a 4th and 8.
Gruner completes the pass to for a gain of 8 to Roland Bruno, but then are penalized for a personal foul on Rodney Ferguson. That doesn't matter as Gruner then promptly completes a 30 yard pass to Bryan Williams. However, the Lobos run out of time near mid-field as the clock runs out. Poor clock management by New Mexico, throwing 3-4 yard passes over the middle with no timeouts.
Final Score: Utah 13 New Mexico 10
3:46 4th Quarter
The Ute defense holds the Lobos to a 3 and out, and the offensive will take over on the Lobo 48 yard line.
Lobo CB DiAndre Wright hurt his shoulder on the interception on the Utes last drive, and he will not return to the game. Freshman Anthony Hooks will replace Wright.
Bradon Godfrey commits 2 personal fouls on 2 consecutive plays, netting in a loss of 30 total yards. The Utes now face a 2nd and 25 clear back in their own territory. Utah is starting to lose their composure and the Lobos have all the momentum. Utah is forced to punt, and the Lobos will take over on their own 10 yard line.
Utah's defense looks fatigued, and the Lobos are moving the ball downfield with the run game. That is why it was so important for Utah to build an early lead. Instead, the Lobos can run the ball and keep to their strength.
Utah's defense was finally able to put 3 consecutive good plays together after Gruner's 4th down pass near mid-field fell incomplete. Utah will take over on downs.
Score: Utah 13 New Mexico 10
10:54 4th Quarter
On the kickoff to start the 4th quarter, Utah is penalized for a block in the back and a personal foul late hit, sending them all the way back to the 5 yard line to start the drive.
Johnson and Asiata team up for 87 yards rushing on the drive, but a poorly thrown pass by Johnson on 2nd and goal is intercepted by the Lobos and all that was for naught. Johnson had a 20 yard run and Asiata had runs of 23 and 31 yards. The Lobos, however, stop the Utes and get the ball back on their own 20.
Score: Utah 13 New Mexico 10
End of 3rd Quarter
Brad Gruner is moving the Lobo down the field, all while making it look rather easy. He continues to run right up the middle of the Utah defense on option keepers. While the Utes have been able to contain Rodney Ferguson, they are letting Gruner run all over them.
The Lobos drive all the way down the field in 8 plays, scoring a TD on a 11 yard TD run by Ferguson. The Ute defense forgot that New Mexico was primarily a running team, and got ran over on 7 runs, 1 pass on the drive.
Score: Utah 13 New Mexico 10
3:13 3rd Quarter
Lobo QB Brad Gruner connects on a 30 yard pass to Chris Hernandez to give the Lobos some breathing room. Hernandez beat Sean Smith on one on one coverage. Then Gruner makes his first mistake of the game, fumbling a pitch intended for RB Rodney Ferguson on the option run. The Lobos recovered the fumble, but the play nets a loss of 12 yards and forces the Lobos to punt instead of continuing the drive.
Utah will start on their own 31 yard line. The Lobo secondary continues to be extremely aggressive. Each time a Ute receiver catches the ball over the middle, he is drilled by either a safety or corner. Freddie Brown makes a nice catch on the drive after the ball was tipped at the line.
Darrell Mack takes an option pitch 26 yards down inside the 5 yard line. Finally the Utes have the ball deep in Lobo territory. After a 5 yard false start penalty, the Utes run the same hook and ladder play that they did in the 2004 Fiesta Bowl and get the same result, a touchdown. Johnson threw a pass to Jeremy Brooks, who then pitched the ball to Brent Casteel who ran it in from 7 yards out.
Score: Utah 13 New Mexico 3
10:33 3rd Quarter
Ben Vroman's kickoff goes into the end zone, and the Lobos will start the half at their own 20. On 2nd and 8, DE Paul Krueger sacks QB Brad Gruner for a loss of 9. The Ute defense holds and forces a 3 and out.
Utah takes over on their 48 yard line, great field position to start the drive. After gaining 1 first down, the offense again stalls and is forced to punt. The Lobos are blitzing from all angles on every pass play, forcing Johnson to make quick decisions. Louie Sakoda punts the ball 39 yards and it is downed at the Lobo 1 yard line.
Score: Utah 6 New Mexico 3
Halftime- Utah 6 New Mexico 3
Lobo Head Coach Rocky Long must be very pleased with the aggressive play of his team, holding Utah to just 6 points. A low scoring game definitely favors the Lobos. On paper, the Utes have dominated the Lobos, gaining 169 yards (68 rush, 101 pass) while holding the Lobos to only 82 yards (-1 yard in the first quarter, 83 in the second quarter).
Offensively, the Utes need to connect on some deep passes. Johnson has had 4 wide open receivers deep that would have resulted in 40+ yard gains and possibly touchdowns. He has consistently overthrown his receivers on the deep pass. The Lobos know this and are playing very tight defense up front to stop the run and short pass. Unless the Utes can connect downfield, the Lobos will continue to slow down the Utah offense.
Defensively, the Utes have done a nice job slowing down RB Rodney Ferguson, but instead have let QB Brad Gruner run right through the middle of the D-line. Utah will need to do a better job of containing Gruner and not let him scramble for first downs.
Intangibles: New Mexico is leading the turnover battle recovering a David Reed punt return fumble. Utah will need to force some Lobo turnovers to help the offense in field position and momentum.
End of 2nd Quarter
Offensively, Utah will need to spread out the Lobo defense with reverses and counter runs. The Lobos are playing very aggressively on defense, running all 11 players towards the ball.
Utah is able to get something going offensively with a nice option run by Johnson and a few throws over the middle. The Lobo defense continues to fight hard trying to force fumbles on every tackle. two plays in a row the Lobos appeared to have forced Utah fumbles, but luckily the Utes were ruled down.
Right before the half, Sakoda connects on a 38 yard field goal to give the Utes the lead.
Score: Utah 6 New Mexico 3
6:32 2nd Quarter
Utah's offense has fallen out of rhythm and can't get anything going. Johnson has missed 4 open receivers that would have been deep gains or touchdowns for the Utes. The Lobos force the Utes to a 3 and out after the blocked field goal. Sakoda gets off a deep punt that is fair caught inside the 20 yard line.
New Mexico QB Brad Gruner is finding holes in the Ute defense, both on the ground and in the air. The Lobos have made great adjustments offensively since the 1st quarter. Gruner has 24 yards on 6 carries, and is making key throws to keep the drive alive.
The Lobos drive down into Utah territory before the Utes are finally able to stop Brad Gruner. James Aho connects on a 38 yard field goal to tie the game at 3.
Score: New Mexico 3 Utah 3
12:26 2nd Quarter
The momentum shifts to the Lobos as they recover a fumble on the punt return by David Reed. The Lobos have great field position and with a great chance to take the lead after netting a loss of one offensive yard in the first quarter (3 yards rushing, -4 yards passing).
Aiona Key saves the day for the Utes as he blocks a James Aho 41 yard field goal. He has 3 blocked kicks on the season (2 punt blocks, 1 field goal block).
Score: Utah 3 New Mexico 0
End of First Quarter
New Mexico QB Brad Gruner throws a great pass to Roland Bruno for the first down, but the play is called back for having an ineligible receiver downfield. After an incompletion on third down, the Lobos are forced to punt.
Utah takes over on their own 46, great field position to start the drive. The rust from the bye week is showing offensively for the Utes as they are called for their 3rd false start and we are still in the first quarter.
The Lobos are doing a great job defensively on the edges. The successful runs that Utah has had so far has been right up the middle. On 4th and 7, punter Louie Sakoda tries to pass to an open Eddie Wide, but the throw was behind the receiver. Good play call, poor execution on the fake punt.
The Lobos are forced to punt after 3 plays net a loss of 12 yards.
Score: Utah 3 New Mexico 0
5:54 First Quarter
New Mexico wins the coin toss and defers to the second half. Lets see what Brian Johnson and the rest of the Ute offense can put together.
After generating a nice first down, the Ute offense stalls after a false start penalty, a rushing loss and an incomplete pass. The penalty took all the momentum away from the offense.
Lobos will take over on their own 25 after a Louie Sakoda punt. Utah's defense holds the Lobos to a 3 and out, and will start their second possession near their own 30 yard line.
Bradon Godfrey makes an excellent diving catch on 3rd and 6 to keep the drive alive. Utah is stretching the Lobo 3-3-5 defense with the deep ball. Although the 3 deep passes have been incomplete so far, the Lobo defense will be forced to give Utah more of a cushion in the passing game, which will open up the short passing game and running game.
The Lobos are doing a great job of disguising their blitzes and putting pressure on Brian Johnson. Utes are forced to try a 43 yard field goal, which Louie Sakoda hits. Sakoda is now 16-18 on field goals this season.
Score: Utah 3 New Mexico 0**Key Match-up** New Mexico's rush offense (222.6 ypg, ranked #2 in MWC and #13 NCAA) vs. Utah's rush defense (85.9 ypg, ranked #2 in MWC and #9 in NCAA)
Utah's history against New Mexico as a ranked team has been spotty. In 1994, Utah was 8-0 and ranked No. 8 (Coaches) and No. 9 (A.P.) when it lost at New Mexico, 23-21. In 2003, a 6-1 Ute team with wins over Cal and No. 19 Oregon, had just broken into the national rankings (No. 23 Coaches, No. 24 A.P.), only to lose to the Lobos 47-35. The No. 14 Utes broke the jinx in 2004 when they improved to 5-0 with a 28-7 win over UNM in Albuquerque.
Utah's 2004 offense was only able to put up 28 points against the Lobos, so you may be asking me why I am saying Utah puts up 31 points tonight. New Mexico is unsettled at QB this year after starter Donovan Porterie got hurt early in the season. QB Brad Gruner has completed over 50% of his passes, but he has thrown 3 TDs and 5 interceptions. Look for Utah's defense to capitalize on turnovers and give the offense great field position for most of the game.
New Mexico will be giving most of the offensive touches to RB Rodney Ferguson. If Ferguson can get going early, watch out. Utah will need to slow down Ferguson and not let the Lobos control the clock.
MY PREDICTION: Utah 31 New Mexico 17. Let me know what you think. Post your predictions/questions in the comment board.
Keys to the Game for Utah
- Stop RB Rodney Ferguson - don't allow him to get on track
- Mack/Asiata breakout game - Utah needs to dominate the ground via Louks, Mack and Asiata
- Quick drop passes - playing against a blitz-happy 3-3-5 Lobo defense, QB Brian Johnson will need to be quick in getting the ball out to the receivers
Keys to the Game for New Mexico
- Control the Line - on both sides of the ball
- Disrupt Utah's offensive rhythm - play sound defense and capitalize on any mistakes made my Utah
- Put the game on RB Rodney Ferguson's shoulders - let your best player do what he does best, run the football
Utah Miscellaneous Stats
- As the head coach, Kyle Whittingham is 3-0 coming off bye weeks.
- Utah leads the league and is 12th in the nation in scoring, averaging 39.0 points per game. That currently rates as the thirdbest scoring average by a Ute team since the program began in 1892.
- QB Brian Johnson's 55 career combined passing/rushing touchdowns is third all-time at Utah. In second place is Alex Smith (62 from 2002-04).
- Nose tackle Kenape Eliapo is expected to return to action this week. Eliapo broke his foot in the season-opener against Michigan and has missed the last seven games.
- Senior Brian Johnson has tied the school record for most wins by a starting Ute quarterback with 21. Johnson, who is 21-7 as the starter, matched the record set by Alex Smith (21-1 in 2003-04).
- Utah has two backs with nearly identical numbers at the eight game mark. Starter Darrell Mack has 91 rushes for 411 yards (4.5 yards per carry) and Matt Asiata has 90 carries for 451 yards (5.0 average).
- Utah is ranked in the top-10 in the nation in five defensive categories this week. The Utes are third in opponent first downs (114), fifth in opponent third-down conversions (28.4%), sixth in total defense (264.00) and ninth in rushing defense (85.88). Utah ranks 14th in tackles for loss (7.75).
- DE Paul Kruger has 13.5 tackles for loss, which is tied for the eighth-best number of TFL in the nation. His TFL average (1.69) ranks ninth nationally.
- Utah is off to the fourth 8-0 start in school history (also accomplished in 1930, 1994 and 2004).
- Utah has cracked the top 10 for the first time since 2004, climbing to No. 9 in the USA Today Coaches' Poll and No. 10 in the Harris and Associated Press polls. The Utes are also No. 10 in this week's BCS standings, which includes a tie for No. 7 in the average computer rankings.
New Mexico Miscellaneous Stats
- The Lobos have a 7-39 record against nationally-ranked opposition. The record breakdown is 5-19 at home, 4-18 in University Stadium, 2-19 on the road and 0-1 at a neutral site. Current head coach Rocky Long is 1-8 versus ranked teams, the lone victory 47-35 at No. 23 Utah on Oct. 25, 2003.
- New Mexico has faced 15 different ranked schools in its history and has a winning record against only two of them: Fresno State (1-0) and Utah (2-1).
- Fourteen times since 1946 a Lobo team has rallied from at least a 14-point deficit to win. For whatever reason, four of the comebacks have come against Utah, more than any other opponent.
- A total of 21 seniors will make their final regular-season appearance at University Stadium tonight.
- Senior RB Rodney Ferguson continues to lead the MWC and is 18th nationally in rushing at 108.1 yards a game.
- UNM has won 8 straight games decided by 3 points or less, 4 in 2007
- According to this week's NCAA stats, New Mexico continues to have the toughest schedule among the nine MWC schools.