August 29, 2007

The lowdown: Utah Utes

Throughout the 2007 football season, BeaverBlitz.com will run
a story previewing Oregon State's upcoming opponent through the view of an expert
from that team.

This week, Tom Cella from UteZone.com
was kind enough to take time out to give OSU fans insight into their first opponent,
the Utah Utes.


Last year Utah concluded an 8-5 season with a 25-13 victory over Tulsa in the
Armed Forces Bowl. The Utes were 5-3 in conference play to tie for third place.
Currently boasting the second-longest postseason win streak in the nation, the
Utes are looking to improve in conference play in year three of the Kyle Whittingham
era.


The Utes have won four of their last five games against PAC-10 opponents. Oregon
St leads the series currently at 8-4-1, however the Utes have won the last two
meetings between the two schools and three of the last four. Utah is 64-48-1
all-time when the season opener is on the road. The last time the Utes began
a road win over a PAC-10 foe was in 1999 at Washington St.


The Utah offense:


Brian Johnson returns to start at quarterback after missing last season
while recovering from knee surgery. Johnson was a second team all conference
selection as a sophomore in 2005 and was recently named to the 2007 Preseason
All Mountain West team.


Johnson started the first 10 games in 2005 before injuring his knee. He led
the MWC and ranked No. 4 in the nation in total offense (337.0 ypg) and finished
first in the MWC and No. 11 in the nation in pass efficiency (151.0). Johnson
is a very capable runner and passer as evidenced by his 2005 stats. The big
question for 2007 will be Johnson's mental mistakes that cost the Utes games
in 05.


Heading into fall camp, the Utes returned ten starters on offense and regained
the services of top five in the nation QB Brian Johnson. As is usually the case
however, the fall camp injury bug hit the Utes hard with an ACL tear to the
knee of starting left tackle Jason Boone and sent ripples that affected
not only the offensive line rotation but the defensive line as well. Moving
over to take Boone's vacant spot at left tackle, Zane Beadles has made
a smooth transition, but is a sophomore and is under a lot of pressure to protects
Johnson's blind side. Taking over at left guard duties is junior Corey Seiuli,
a JC transfer from 06 with plenty to prove. The loss of Boone is significant,
but Beadles proved he can step up last season and will be looked toward again
this year to do the same.



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