I am able to sleep less and less each night. My mind races with thoughts of optimism and fear. Things like “school” and “work” are becoming mere afterthoughts.
That can only mean one thing: football season is here. With only two days left until the Utah Utes’ football season kicks off, all eyes fall on Rice-Eccles stadium where the Utah football team will face the Utah State Aggies on Thursday evening. Last year, the Utes suffered a brutal overtime loss to the Aggies, which was a major contributing factor to Utah’s less than stellar 2012 season. This time they look for redemption.
This game will be a tough first test for Utah, as much of the team that beat them last year will be back to shake things up again. This includes their star, Chuckie Keeton, who is a dual-threat quarterback that would worry any defense. Last year, he put up more than 300 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns against the Utes. To beat the Aggies this year, Utah will have to contain Keeton as much as possible. Sure, he will probably break for a run or two on Thursday, but for as much of the game as possible the Utes have to make him play a traditional quarterback position. Let him try to win the game with his arm rather than his legs.
The Utes’ defense will be tested of their mettle early this year seeing how the Aggies’ defense is nothing to laugh at. In the Aggies’ last six games, five of them saw their offense put up more than 500 total yards. Trevor Reilly and Co. will have to deal with the Aggies’ running backs, who always seem to impress, and also have to work to contain the threat of the run from Keeton. If the linemen are able to do their job containing the run, the pressure will be put on the young and inexperienced Utah cornerbacks. I’m not expecting Utah’s defense to completely shut down the dynamic Aggies’ offense, but if they can hold them to less than 300 offensive yards it would be a good sign of things to come.
Even though I am worried about what the opposing quarterback will be able to do to, I am even more concerned about what Utah’s quarterback will be able to produce. With Travis Wilson now having some games under his belt and a full offseason as a starting quarterback, it is now time to see what he can really do. He is no longer a freshman coming in to replace an injured first-stringer, he is now a full-fledged starting quarterback. With offensive weapons like Dres Anderson and Kenneth Scott, and a new offensive coordinator at the helm, Dennis Erickson, this game will really show the Utah fans what the offense is capable of doing.
Although this may not be the most intriguing game on paper for the Utes, I think it will prove to be one of the most important. The loss to the Aggies early in the season last year set a certain tone for the whole season: disappointment. Now the Utes have another chance to change that outcome and set a new tone for the season in front of a boisterous and passionate home crowd in Salt Lake City.