Monday, February 20, 2017

Farwell to 2016: Utah Utes

It was a season of highs and lows in the PAC-12 in 2016. The Washington Huskies turned a major corner, making it to the national semifinal before getting smothered by Alabama. The Huskies were one of four teams that won 10 games or more. On the flip side, half of the teams in the conference finished under .500, including two major surprise teams in Oregon and UCLA. The conference's prize QB, Josh Rosen, was injured for most of the season, and under performed when he was available, and Jake Browning became the new star QB of the conference until being upstaged by Sam Darnold at USC. The biggest story was the emergence of the Colorado Buffaloes, who shocked everyone by winning the South. Here is our farewell to the 2016 season, team by team, in the PAC-12...

Utah Utes
9-4 (5-4)

2016 Schedule
Beat Southern Utah 24-0
Beat BYU 20-19
Beat San Jose State 34-17
Beat USC 21-17
Lost to California 28-23
Beat Arizona 36-23
Beat Oregon State 19-14
Beat UCLA 52-45
Lost to Washington 31-24
Beat Arizona State 49-26
Lost to Oregon 30-28
Lost to Colorado 27-22
Beat Indiana 26-24 (Foster Farms Bowl)

MVP Offense: RB Joe Williams
Williams was essentially called off of his couch and out of retirement to helpo a depleted unit at Utah, and he exploded onto the scene with a fury. Williams exploded for 1407 yards rushing in just 9 games, and scored 10 times. He averaged 156.33 yards rushing per game, and averaged 6.7 yards per carry on 23.33 carries per game. Williams absolutely crushed UCLA in a 52-45 win, as he rushed for 332 yards and 4 scores against the reeling Bruins, and ran for 150 yards or more 5 times on the year.  MVP Defense: DB Chase Hanson, DE Hunter Dimick
DB Hanson led the team with 90 tackles on the year, and picked off 3 passes. He finished with 7.5 TFLs and forced 3 fumbles, while breaking up 9 passes and causing 2 QB hurries. His best game came against Colorado, as he finished with 13 tackles in the narrow loss. 
Dimick was a force up front with 21 TFLs, and recorded 14.5 sacks. He finished with 54 tackles on the season, and batted down 7 passes as well. Dimick finished with 9 tackles against Arizona State, and finished with 6.5 TFLs in that same game.  Others of Note
Troy Williams was eratic at times for the Utes at QB, and never seemed to have it all fully together from week to week. He completed only 53% of his passes, and finished with 2757 yards with just 15 TDs to 8 INTs. 
Tim Patrick was the lone Ute receiver to finish with over 27 passes. He put together a line of 45-711-5, and averaged 15.8 yards per reception. Raelon Singleton led the team with a 17.19 yards per reception average.
Cody Barton, Marcus Williams, and Sunia Tauteoli all missed 2 games on defense. Injuries became a real issue at points on both sides of the football. 
Pita Taumoepenu joined Dimick as the only other Ute defender to finish in double figures in TFLs with 12. He fell short of double figures in sacks with 9.
Utah QBs had 63 passes broken up on them in 2016.
The Utes fumbled 21 times in 13 games. 
Marcus Williams led the Utes in INTs with 5. Utah picked off 18 passes as a team. 
Utah averaged 60.54 tacckles per game, while opponents made 74 per game, as Utah won the defensive efficiency battle. They allowed just 23.9 points per game. 
Best Win: USC 21-17
The Utes got the Trojans early, and when they were down. Utah struggled offensivly in the win, as injuries had started to mount, but the Utes got away with what turned out to be a very high quality win early in the seaosn, their second in the first 4 games of the year (BYU being the other). Worst Loss: Oregon, California
These losses kept Utah from winning the PAC-12 South in 2016, hich were joined by the loss to Colorado that eliminated the Utes from the race. If you are getting eliminated, losing two games to teams that combined for just 8 wins on the year is a bad way to go. Not only did Utah not get close to winning the division for the first time, they have these losses to look back on in shame.  2017 Non Conference Schedule: 8/31 North Dakota, 9/9 at BYU, 9/16 San Jose State
THe trend of cupcake non conference scheduling in the PAC-12 continues with this easy slate. The Utes will win games against North Dakota and San Jose State outright, but will have their hands full against what should be a very good BYU club on the road. Going 2-1 or 3-0 is the highest probability.

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