Ute fans have waited over a year for their beloved team to play its first game as a member of the Pac-12. This was not worth the wait.
Forget about USC, Utah had trouble moving the ball against the Big Sky. 292 total yards against Montana State is not going to cut it in the Pac-12.
"We won't win a game in the Pac-12 if we play like this the rest of the way," said head coach Kyle Whittingham. And he's absolutely right.
Sure, it was opening night, and the Utes are still working through Norm Chow's new offense, but thank goodness they opened up against the Bobcats, because they probably would have lost had they played like this against any other team on their schedule.
Maybe Chow didn't want to show the Trojans anything. The Utes offense was more conservative than a Rick Perry rally. Maybe that's why Jordan Wynn was dinking and dunking passes for a grand total of 101 yards on 23 attempts. Or maybe, Wynn's shoulder isn't really fully healed and the reason he only took one legitimate shot downfield is because he couldn't. His longest completion was 15 yards.
When Utah ran the ball up the middle on a 3rd and 17, some of the over 45,000 fans at Rice-Eccles Stadium actually started booing. After flying high the last year knowing their team was finally a member of a BCS conference, Ute fans waited a full two quarters to boo. That's how bad it was. Not that it wasn't deserved.
If Wynn plays like this, the Utes are doomed. Fans may start clamoring for Jon Hayes. Maybe playing under center rather than taking snaps in the shotgun will take some getting used to. But I think this was more of an aberration rather than a sign of things to come. I'm hoping he finds the confidence again to become the rocket-armed gunslinger we thought we knew.
On the bright side, John White is the real deal. After shaking and shifting his way for 150 yards and two touchdowns, at least we know the running game is capable of some big plays.
The defense was also pretty stout. I would have liked to have seen more pressure on Bobcats quarterback DeNarius McGhee, but holding Montana State to just 75 yards rushing and 183 yards passing is pretty solid. It was also nice to see Coleman Peterson connect on his two field goal attempts and all three extra points.
But every phase of the game needs to improve, and quickly, if the Utes are to have a chance in the Pac-12.