Before a crushing 20-12 defeat to the Air Force Academy Saturday, Sept. 8, star receiver Brent Casteel tore his ACL and is out for the season and starting defensive tackle Robert Conley got injured, putting him out for 3-5 weeks.
These injuries compounded the growing list of problems for the University of Utah, who have already lost starting quarterback Brian Johnson for at least 2 more weeks and starting tailback Matt Asiata for the year.
And, oh yeah, starting offensive lineman and all-conference player Jesse Boone was done for the season and essentially his career before the season even began.
However, despite this ridiculous amount of continuous injuries, the Utes had chances to win the game on Saturday, with the biggest blown chance occuring on the last sequence of the game. Down one possession at eight, new starting quarterback Tommy Grady hit Derrek Richards with a pass to move to the 1-yard line late in the game. However, the Utes failed to punch it in, most notably with two failed runs up the middle. These failed runs are yet another indication of how stupid head coach Kyle Whittingham and offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig often are with regards to their play-calling.
Both Whittingham and Ludwig tried to defend the play-calling afterwards. Whittingham noted that "'he likes anybody's chances when their on the six-inch line," as if anybody should score from there no matter how predictable the play, while Ludwig insisted that the 3rd-down play in which receiver Eddie Wide took a direct snap forward was "a play that has worked for us in the past."
Yeah, that was when you had NFL safety, second-round NFL draft pick and play-any-position Eric Weddle carrying the ball.
That is also considering that you have running backs who struggle just to average 3 yards per carry without running against a stacked goal-line defense.
Both teams were absolutely inept on offense until the Utes stopped the Falcons on a failed fourth-down run from midfield. However, Grady promptly responded by throwing an interception, leading to a Falcon touchdown and 17-6 lead moments later.
Utah responded with a shocking 74-yard, 4-play drive that took just 33 seconds to cut the lead to 17-12 after a failed two-point conversion run. Air Force scored a field goal in response, leading to Utah's stalled drive 99/100 of the way to paydirt to essentially end the game.
The Utes will now be 0-3 after their home defeat to UCLA next Saturday.