Avinash: What are your thoughts on Utah winning one of the ugliest Holy Wars in recent memory? Do you feel like the Utes have something going or is there a ceiling on their success?
Taylor Henry: Utah's defense is very opportunistic, which helped them extensively yesterday. The issue for me is the way they take care of the ball on offense, as well as their lack of offensive firepower. Eventually leaning so heavily on your defense will come back to bite you. Utah will be good, but I don't consider them a serious contender in the Pac-12 this year.
Gabey Lucas: The Utah of the first two games has been the Utah I widely expected this year - really tough but lacking that offensive capabilities to assert their will over other teams, and for that reason I was a bit surprised when people were predicting them as Pac 12 contenders. That being said, I still would take their strengths and weaknesses over a team like Oregon who at least at the moment has insane skill players (seriously, I'm jealous) but doesn't have that physicality in the lines and on defense.
I think Utah's a fundamentally above average team and Kyle Whittingham's a tremendous coach, but you still need to be able to move the ball downfield better. I've held the position since last December that this year they will have a bit of difficulty and not have as much statistical success as last year, probably in the W/L column as well, but that any blips that come their way this year won't be permanent. They have the foundations down for long term success, that's for sure, but this year I think will end up a down-ish year, relatively (though relative from a 10-3 season isn't too bad) unless their offense all the sudden finds some magic.
Which you never know...could happen.
Ryan Larson: To an outside observer, a 20-19 win over BYU where the Utes turned the ball over six times would be cause for panic or a signal the Utes can't compete with stiffer competition. That's not actual the case though. First, you've got to realize that the defense was insane in this game for the Utes. They only allowed the Cougars to have two good drives the entire game and allowed only 13 points off of six turnovers. The Utah defense can compete with any defense in the country with performances like this.
The offense was more concerning, but there's still reason for optimism. Turnovers are a random stat, and it's totally improbable that the offense will give away the ball six times in every game for the rest of the season. Outside the turnovers, the offense actually moved the ball well. The team only punted three times and four of the giveaways ended promising drives. Not only that, but Troy Williams throws a pretty deep ball when it's not into triple coverage.
If Utah limits the turnovers then they have the skills necessary to be a competitor in the Pac-12 and especially in the wide open South. Maybe I'm trying to will Utah into contention, but after watching them win ten games with an often times disastrous offense last season, I don't see any reason yet that tells me they can't match that or improve upon ten wins. Just stop turning the ball over so much.
Gabey: Well put. Their defense is nasty and can definitely keep them in any game, it's just a matter of if their offense can capitalize on that.