Saturday, November 21, 2009

A Tale of Two Seasons: Part X of XIII

A tattered and beaten Cosmo the Coug (as he deserves) usually hangs by the neck from my doorknob throughout the year, except for a few choice occasions when he braves the outdoors…to hang by his neck from the MUSS flag on my car. Anyone who calls himself/herself a Utes fan should appreciate this gesture—an indication of how important the U vs. Y game means to everyone.

But I can honestly say the game against TCU was even more significant last year, and this year proved the same.
Before your Utes pride lashes out at me, remember last year.

As if the hype of No.10 Utah vs. No.11 TCU was not enough, it was the first time the Utes would be in black jerseys—the first blackout game in school history.
The Utes fans responded and Rice-Eccles Stadium was rocking (literally)…at least until TCU scored 10 points in 9 minutes. Jaws dropped and worry lines began to appear.

The Utah defense settled in, and finally the game slowed down. It became the defensive battle I was expecting. After two Louie Sakoda field goals, the fans came back to life.
The Utes pinned the Horned Frogs deep right in front of the notorious north end zone. I was standing 15 yards from the play right in between the players and the fans, and I could FEEL the noise. I knew TCU quarterback Andy Dalton could too because he promptly stood up and called a Timeout.
The 3rd quarter was the peak for each team's defense as the score held tight at 10-6. The 4th proved to be one of the most amazing quarters of the 2008 season.
TCU found a rhythm again and were moving the ball, but Utah had a "Bend don’t break" defense. The Horned Frogs managed to grab two field goal attempts, which they promptly missed both times.

After the second miss, fans could feel that something magical was about to happen. Brian Johnson led the offense 80 yards, capping it off with a pass to Freddie Brown for the touchdown and a 3-point lead.
The fans rushed the field to celebrate their undefeated Utes. The only thing standing between the Utes and a BCS game was San Diego State and the y.
This year, the tables were turned. Utah was the team with a loss going on the road to face a top-ranked undefeated team who were wearing new jerseys. That is where the script changed. TCU scored quickly and Utah responded to tie the game.
Then TCU started to kick our asses, and the feeling amongst the Utah fans in attendance was "Let's just go home."
I was prepared for a loss because TCU has been playing well this year, but I thought it would be close…10 points or less please.
A final score of 55-28 was hard to take, and even thinking about it now it makes me feel queasy. However, as I said to the TCU fans before the game, “If the frogs win, I will jump on the bandwagon for them to get in and win a BCS game." So GO FROGS!!!

Now Utah will turn their attention to San Diego and the cougs to close out the year again. But I have a hunch it'll work out…

Friday, November 13, 2009

A Tale of Two Seasons: Part IX of XIII

With TCU on the horizon, everyone has been so focused on pulling out a second win that I was worried we'd ignore the ever-present threat of the Lobos.

However, all my fears (and everyone else's) were for naught as we not only beat them, we kicked their sorry asses to next week—I almost feel sorry for them.

With freshman quarterback Jordan Wynn getting his first start, the Utes safely avoided the trap and made their match up against TCU a showdown for the Mountain West Conference Championship.

Last year the Utes also came away with a win, but it wasn't very convincing as we came away with one touchdown and two field goals. It was a hard fought game as previous games against New Mexico have been.
Even with the team not looking it’s best against the Lobos, I personally hit a zone that night in Albuquerque. My best photos were from that game, including a crucial block against a Lobos kick that made the difference between win or lose.
After David Reed fumbled a punt in the second quarter, New Mexico had the ball on the Utah 42 yard line and moved down the field before attempting a field goal. I watched as James Aho approached the ball, swung his leg back and kicked it. But instead of it sailing through the up-rights, Aiona Key jumped above the line and blocked the ball, and I snapped my camera, capturing the moment forever. The Utes left with a 13-10 win, and I had my picture of the year.
As I said earlier, usually games against New Mexico are difficult, but with the Lobos suffering from a new head coach and such a bad offseason only comparable to ones the Oakland Raiders face, this year's game was almost too easy.

Wynn started just as I hoped, and threw to Jereme Brooks for a 69 yard touchdown pass in the first quarter that gave the Utes an early lead.
Our offense kept racking up points, finishin with 45 points and 557 yards. They had finally executed the big win everyone was looking for.
As soon as the game against the Lobos was over, attention turned to the showdown against TCU just as it did last year. However, the roles are reversed this year as they are the undefeated team hoping for a shot at the BCS, and Utah is the team with an early loss to a non-conference team. We're aiming for any chance at a BCS game, along with a shot at the Conference Championship.

Even with a freshman QB and having to go to Amon G. Carter Stadium on Saturday, I feel the Utes will give TCU a run for their money. Just like TCU did last year when they came to Rice-Eccles Stadium for the first black out.
In J. Wynn I trust.

Friday, November 6, 2009

A Tale of Two Seasons: Part IIX of XIII

I saw Terrence Cain and Corbin Loukes at a practice game for the Utes last spring and wasn't impressed. My coworker, Chris Kamrani, thought Cain showed potential, but instead, I noticed a skinny little white kid by the name of Jordan Wynn.
Wynn didn't seem any faster or stronger than the others, but the way he took control during a 2-minute drill made me wonder what the future held in store.

And despite being a true freshman, that "skinny little white kid" kicked ass on Saturday against the Wyoming Cowboys, just as I had hoped.

Week nine truly proved to be a tale of two seasons.

Week after week of close calls last year and underperforming, the Utes had their best offensive game of the year racking up 549 yards of offense and 49 points in a personal ass kicking of Colorado State.
We won all of those games, but it didn't compare to the beating the Rams took as Corbin Loukes, Matt Asiata and Jamie Brooks all rushed for touchdowns, and Freddie Brown and David Read caught passes from Brian Johnson for six points.
The feeling that day was awesome as the team appeared to be finally showing the college football world their greatness.
This year I was hoping for the same type of performance from the team against Wyoming. It didn't quite go as planned, but I think we're finally on track…thanks to Wynn.
It was a close game up until halftime, but to be honest, it looked bad. Then, miraculously enough, quarterback Terrence Cain was pulled for Jordan Wynn. I cheered internally, hoping that Wynn would lead us to victory.
With Wynn as the QB, the Utes scored back-to-back field goals and then threw a touchdown pass at the beginning of the 4th quarter, bringing us to the lead. The game ended 22-10, and I couldn't be happier.
Now that Wynn has seen time, we are back to the same point as earlier this year, waiting to find out who will get the nod on Saturday to start. Luckily, the New Mexico Lobos are the worst team in the nation, so even if I started for the Utes we would have a shot at winning.

This week will be the breakout game for the Utes no matter who starts as quarterback, which is why I'll be in the stands instead of out on the field. I just want to see a big, big Wynn.