Utah Utes Smack Alabama Tide: Sugar Bowl Recap

JeremySenior Writer IJanuary 2, 2009

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Wow! Barry Switzer needs to eat a huge piece of crow for saying none of the Utah players would be recruited to play for Alabama. Utah made eight sacks and caused two forced fumbles. Prior to this game, Alabama only gave up 13 sacks all year.

I do not want Alabama fans to say that Utah applied pressure because Andre Smith was out. Despite being out-weighed by 60 pounds, defensive lineman Greg Newman drove Alabama’s All-American Center Antoine back five yards.

The Utes were able to apply pressure to Alabama which gave John Parker Wilson trouble. When he was not being sacked, he was under pressure.

The biggest surprise beyond the Utes applying pressure was the fact that neither team was able to rush the ball. Alabama, who has a great running back in Glenn Coffee, was held to 36 rushing yards for an average of 2.8 yards-per-carry. He also had four receptions for 40 yards and a touchdown.

Utah seemed to not want to run the ball at all, using four and five-wide sets. The Utes rushed for 17 total yards. Their leading rusher Matt Asiata had 29 yards and a touchdown early in the game to make it 14-0.

The Utes' offense started out very quickly and seemed to be able to come up with big plays on third-down and running shorter routes. It helped when Alabama continually missed tackles. Utah quarterback Brian Johnson, game MVP, ran the offense most of the night. They used the no-huddle offense and were able to provide protection for Johnson.

Johnson threw for 336 yards and three touchdowns. This was the first time a team threw for over 300 yards against Alabama. The Ute receivers stepped up huge with Freddie Brown making 12 catches for 125 yards and Brandon Godfrey catching six passes for 75 yards.

Alabama did make a run in this game by returning a punt for a touchdown and then scoring a touchdown on a short field.  The longest drive was 50 yards, but Alabama  missed one of two field goals.  AP coach of the year, Nick Saban, was out-coached in this game because Utah ran the no huddle, forcing Alabama to keep the same scheme.

When Utah used their standard offense, Alabama started to apply pressure. That is when Utah went right back to their no-huddle and four and five-wideouts. Alabama was unable to apply pressure. Utah was also able to get key third-down conversions by going 6-of-14 which is decent, but 'Bama struggled going 4-of-13.

Game predictions said that Alabama was too physical and came from the mighty SEC, but the Utes smacked Alabama around and took it to them. As I pointed out earlier this week in comparing the schedules last week, I was waxed, but the Utes' win over ranked BYU, TCU, Oregon State, and Air Force.

This compared to the wins over an over-rated Clemson, a solid Georgia, good LSU, and then a loss to Florida.

We will see how much respect the Utah Utes get from this win. Look for Utah to possibly be ranked No. 3 in the country, but most likely four.


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