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7 Questions, Utah Utes Edition

North Dakota v Utah Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images

For this week’s 7 Questions we’ve got an extra super special guest - ATQ’s very own RavenousUte! He was kind enough to give us some background on Utah’s coaching & a few of the matchups we can expect to see this Saturday.

1. Having coached at Utah in some capacity for over 2 decades (and head coach since 2005), Kyle Whittingham has one of the longest single-team tenures in college football.

What’s the Utes fans’ barometer on him look like right now, do you see him staying on for the foreseeable future? What does he do well, where could he improve?

Rav: Whittingham has a mixed barometer with the fans. Some feel that 8-9 wins in the Pac-12 are his ceiling. Most of us realize that we are lucky to have him and lucky he isn’t poached. To be honest he isn’t going anywhere. He already negotiated a retirement package with the former AD Chris Hill where by he will get paid handsomely and still be able to contribute to the football team when he eventually retires.

What he does well is obviously defense and special teams. What he doesn’t do well is offense and recruiting. Lots of questions have been raised since [former QB] Jack Tuttle left the team. But Whittingham is very hard-nosed and stubborn. He will do things his way. Biggest thing this season has been seeing if he can keep his hands off the offense and let OC Troy Taylor do his job.

NCAA Football: Colorado at Utah Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

2. Obviously both QB Tyler Huntley and now RB Zach Moss’s injuries are a huge drag for Utes fans. What do we know about the next men up at both QB & RB?

QB Jason Shelley is a bit of an X-factor. Not really a highly-touted recruit, but I think he could be effective Saturday, if Troy tailors his offensive scheme to him. I think Troy Taylor is underestimated as an OC. He has implemented a double tight offense that keeps defenses guessing. Max Browne breaks it down here.

NCAA Football: Arizona at Utah Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

RB Armand Shyne will be replacing Zach Moss and he has had a number of touches this year spelling Zach. Currently he is averaging 4.6 yards per carry and will be spelled by TJ Green, and this game will probably see playing time for freshman Devin Brumfield.

Obviously turnovers are a concern with bringing in new players in the offense and could be the deciding factor Saturday.

3. Who’s another Utah player for us Oregon fans to watch on offense, and what should we look for? Not necessarily your most prolific player - let’s hear about guys that provide something unique for your team or are otherwise instructive.

WR Britain Covey... he’s back! It was his brilliant acting that allowed the fake punt return in Autzen 3 years ago. He’s not just a receiver - he’s a runner and a passer as well. Currently, Britain is 3/3 passing, with a Passer Rating of 488.8 and 2 touchdowns. Britain is shifty as they come, which is why he is our punt and kickoff returner as well. He makes the offense special in allowing Troy to call triple options, double reverses and flea-flickers. Did I mention he used to play QB in high school?

4. And how about one on defense?

Defense is hard to choose... Chase Hansen and Brandon Anae get a lot of mention, so I’ll go with CB Jaylon Johnson. Incredible hands and he can probably keep up with anyone but N’Keal Harry in this conference. Still I have to mention DEs Maxs Tupai and Mika Tafua. Maxs hits hard enough to break ribs, like he did to USC’s Mark Fink. Mika is a RS freshman and might be as scary as Brandon Anae in a year.

NCAA Football: Southern California at Utah Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

5. What’s an advantage Utah might be able to exploit against Oregon this Saturday?

Well the obvious answer is Rice-Eccles Stadium. Utah is averaging 107% seating capacity this year and if Pullman noise was bad, RES will be worse. I hope Cristobal is piping in noise for practices.

”Despite holding only about 46,000, Rice-Eccles Stadium is as loud as any in the Pac-12. Another factor is the elevation at Salt Lake City–4,226 feet–which can wear down opposing defenses.” --Husky Haul website

Oh also, Herbert has a tendency to stare down receivers. That can be deadly vs the Utah D.

NCAA Football: Southern California at Utah Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

6. What’s a weakness or disadvantage specific to this matchup that you guys are worried about?

Injuries and turnovers obviously. Too many factors when you have to replace two starters in one game on offense.

7. And the obligatory predictions - let’s do the final score, plus one other key team or player stat. What say you?

24-21. Utah wins this game in the trenches and wins the war. I think we have the advantage especially in the first half with your starting center out. Oh, and a key stat - Utah has only allowed 31.11% third down conversion at home.

Thanks again for your time, Rav! And GOOOO DUCKS!!!