What do we know about the Utes? Not much.

Friday , August 29, 2014 - 12:31 AM

Extra Point

The funny thing about overreacting – or underreacting, for that matter – is you don’t know you’re doing it when you’re in the heat of the moment.

In real life, that causes all sorts of problems.

In football, it causes replays; hours and hours of replays.

That explains where coach Kyle Whittingham and his University of Utah football players were coming from after Thursday night’s season-opener at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Well, sure, they whipped up on the inferior Idaho State Bengals, 56-14, just as expected. But what, if anything, do they know now that they didn’t know, say, 10 minutes before kickoff?

The answer?

“We’ll have to analyze the tape,” Whittingham said, more than once.

His players joined the refrain.

In the post-game interview room under the stands at the south end of the stadium, media types gathered, anxious to ask questions of Whittingham and his Utes. It was, after all, the first game of the season … a critical season at that.

We wanted some analysis, stat.

They happily obliged, with a caveat: Let’s see what the tape shows.

“We’ve just got to look at the film, senior defensive end Nate Orchard said.

“We’ll have to go back and look at the film and see what corrections we need to make,” he said on another occasion.

Whittingham is right and so is Orchard. Ditto for the other guys, who said similar things.

They put up 56 points, which was great and all but … big deal.

These early-season cupcake games are on the schedule for one reason only. They’re warm-ups for the big boys and paydays for the little guys.

But what do they reveal? To the overreactors, they reveal plenty. Each flaw is horrible and every little success is going to change the season.

And to the rest of us? Meh.

To be sure, the Utes did some nice things Thursday, especially when it came to special teams, where return man Kaelin Clay put on a show. The speedy senior scored not one, but two TDs. The first was a 46-yard punt return; the next was a 100-yard kick return.

He delighted the crowd, his teammates and coaches.

“It was pretty exciting,” Whittingham said with measured excitement.

The Utes cranked out 589 yards of total offense. Receiver Dres Anderson caught four passes for 111 yards and Kenneth Scott caught four more for 57 yards and a touchdown.

Quarterback Travis Wilson passed for 265 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed for another, which was nice because it showed he isn’t afraid to get hit after missing most of last season with concussion issues followed by a serious health scare.

Defensively, Orchard looked good. He had eight tackles and 2 ½ sacks.

But all those things – the returns, the passes, the touchdowns and the tackles – mean the Utes could win the Big Sky Conference in a runway. But other than that, they don’t mean much because they came against an inferior product. They did what they were supposed to do but beyond that, it must all be put into the its proper context.

“We did out-athlete them a bunch,” Whittingham said, speaking the truth. 

For the Utes, the true measure of Thursday’s game won’t be known until Whittingham and the boys watch the tape.

“Well, we’ll see,” the coach said.

Yes they will.

Jim Burton is the Standard-Examiner’s sports columnist. He can be reached at 801-625-4265 or at jburton@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter @StandardExJimbo

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