February 26, 2007

Spring camp 2007: Offense

The 2007 football season is officially upon us. Recruiting classes have been signed, and spring practices start as early as today for some schools around the country. Sufficient time has passed since Eric Weddle ended Utah's 2006 season to allow some objective reflection on the team compared to expectations and take a glance at the future.

Assigning grades to each individual position is nearly impossible, as each player relies heavily on the performance of the other ten on the field. The quarterback and running backs can do very little if the offensive line has a hard time blocking the defensive line. Receivers can't make plays if the quarterback is off target. A corner can't cover a receiver if the quarterback has enough time in the pocket to read Homer's Odyssey. In previewing 2007, it seems appropriate to review 2006 and look at the past and the future through the team nature of the game.

2006 Offense: C

Simply put, the offense in 2006 was not what it was hyped up to be. Brett Ratliff started the season looking nothing like the quarterback who played brilliantly in the Emerald Bowl, misfiring to open receivers, making bad reads, and throwing horrible interceptions. Tommy Grady was even worse in his limited snaps. The running game was putting up respectable yardage, but the actual production from the backfield was virtually non-existent until Weddle was utilized as a two-way threat. The receivers looked lost and confused at times, lining up incorrectly, running wrong routes, or flat out dropping passes. The offensive line played well most of the time, but the unit never seemed to "out-physical" the other team. It appeared at times the offense was going through the motions, expecting plays to happen instead of going out and making them. Yet there were times the offense played brilliantly, looking like a group that could score at will against anyone. Bitter-sweet times where the Utah fan would stand and cheer, all the while thinking in the back of his or her mind, "Where was this offense against Boise State, UCLA, or Wyoming?"

That being said, the Utah offense was good enough to rank third in the conference in both scoring and total offense, but when compared to the pre-season expectations, the results were far less than anticipated.

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