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Hans Olsen’s Ute Recap

This game taught me a lot about both USU and the U of U, but I only have time to write a little. My hope in writing this is to help you understand that what you see on field isn’t always what the issue is. My other primary objective is to help you understand how good of a team USU is.

My biggest take away from this game was the realization that people in Utah still want to think USU is a pushover. The responses I got from Utah and BYU fans were “Utah’s O-line got dominated!” I love when people just brush things over with a single uneducated stroke. Don’t worry; I do it all the time.

Let me help inform you on the details I saw in the trenches. The story on the line was as much about the USU defensive calls (half back blitz pickups, base pass protection calls, and QB recognition) as it was the O-line. Was the O-line perfect? Far from it, but they weren’t the main reason the Ute offense got staled from time to time. In fact, they were the reason they got the win in the 4th quarter. When a team runs the “drain the clock drill” it’s driven by the offensive line’s ability to wall off defenders and that’s just what the Ute’s linemen were able to do. The rest of the offense simply needs avoid fumbles or picks.

Now, as for the offensive breakdowns, let’s look at USU’s ability to blitz. They were able to execute multiple overload blitzes going against this Dennis Erickson scheme that resulted in: confusion, mismatches, and mental errors on the offensive side. In the Dennis Erickson high-speed offense you allow for multiple outlet passes. Outlet passes can consist of a HB on a quick chip 3 yard out, a TE fake pass pro quick chip slip to the flats, or just simple quick routes with no blocking intention. When a defense runs a delayed blitz or hides an overload blitz by late shifting it’s hard for extra blockers in an offense (i.e.: HB’s and TE’s ability to read and react and remain in protection and abort their route responsibilities). This puts extra pressure on the O-line and QB because now they’re left with 5 or 6 blockers while facing 6 and sometimes 7 rushers. Hence the name overload blitz. At times there will be unblocked blitzer because of the simple math equation: more defenders and less blockers. Believe it or not, there are situations where an offensive lineman is responsible for 2 bodies and has to make a judgment call on who’s most dangerous allowing 2nd most dangerous to come free. At that point it’s up to the QB to get rid of the ball.

Now, the question you may be asking is, why then were the outlets not open if blitzers were engaged? Well, they were, for a short period of time. The USU safeties and OLB did a fantastic job of converging on those quick and short routes, which left Utah with -1 or +1 in gains. If you watch the final 5 minutes of play you’ll see that Utah went with their most versatile pass blockers at HB and matched up 1-on-1 giving Travis a pocket and that resulted in completions. It’s a chess match people. Can I get an extra man in a route? Are they going to overload me? Can Travis react? In the end, Dennis Erickson and this offense won the match. I only saw one instance where an offensive lineman was blatantly beat on a pass rush and gave up a sack. This was a result of lazy feet and bad hand position. The O-line did give up other pressure off of powerful bull rushers and solid D-line play, but they held their own most of the night. I’m not saying they were great; I’m saying they were okay and still have room for improvement. I’m fully confident that they will make adjustments.
There are so many things that are taking place in a game. This is just a small sample of all the detail that occurs in each play call.

USU is no slouch; as long as they stay healthy they’ll be number 1 or 2 in the MWC. I’ve got them tagged as being as good if not better than 6 or 7 teams on this Utah schedule. Moving forward USU couldn’t be in a more perfect situation. They get a games worth of film and a DII team to clean it up on next week.

This is a good win for the University of Utah, so take it for what it is!

I wanted to drop a quick line on here about K Scott. My heart is broken for him. I watched him work this off-season. I know the time that went into preparing himself for a break out year. He’s a natural born leader and a good friend. He’s as charismatic as Frank Dolce and as friendly as a deacon passing the sacrament. I have a soft spot for that kid. Here’s to a speedy recovery buddy, can’t wait to see you back on the field. Football is a real female dog sometimes!

 

Hans Olsen
ESPN 700 Host 2 – 6 PM