Brad Rock: College football in Utah like UFO sightings
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — I caught a show on TV the other night that featured amateur videos of flying saucers, some of which looked more like random specks in the sky. They might have been raindrops on the lens, for all I knew. The show also theorized about government cover-ups.
This got me wondering if any of the sightings were legit; whether the truth really is out there. Which for some reason led me to the college football season, which begins with fall camps on Thursday. Strange, unexplained things seem to be happening there, too.
Soon I was suspecting cover-up conspiracies and sabotage at every turn.
I know I'm sounding a little crazy, because in my right mind, I actually think all the major colleges in Utah will do quite well and appear in bowl games this year. They each have their issues, such as inexperience, injuries and personnel changes, which happens every year to every team. But if you want to get all X-Files about it, you have to figure something mysterious is happening. Call it cosmic karma, hard luck or alien intervention, but the bad things have already begun.
Forthwith are a few items that are keeping me awake at night, wondering what's out there:
I know all about quarterback Riley Nelson being feisty and smart, a regular New Age Doug Flutie. I love the guy's attitude and personality, but I'm still not sure he's a great college quarterback. His biggest win in 2011 might have been Oregon State, which lost nine games last year. Tulsa? It's a step above Idaho.
I'm still thinking BYU will regret Jake Heaps leaving.
BYU also lost Josh Quezada, the running back that transferred after being moved behind Michael Alisa on the depth chart. BYU is neither deep enough nor confident enough to do without players the caliber of Heaps and Quezada.
The Cougs also seem to have lost a little swagger, though maybe that's a good thing. Last year at this time they were talking national championship. This summer there has been little of that. Small wonder.
With Notre Dame, Georgia Tech, Utah, Washington State and Boise State on the schedule, I don't see this being better than an eight-win season — and that's due to the weak November schedule.
Speaking of schedules, once again it will be hard to pay attention to the Cougars after Halloween. BYU vs. Idaho, San Jose State and New Mexico State isn't exactly high suspense. In fact it's downright sleep-inducing.
Jordan Wynn is slated to return at quarterback, but if you ask me, he's bound to get hurt again.
I'm not in the Wynn-haters club, but I've seen him injured too often to expect him to get through an entire year unscathed. Backup Travis Wilson hasn't played a down of college football.
Yes, Wilson was exceptional this spring. No, that doesn't equate to starting in the Pac-12.
Then there's that awkward issue with Brian Blechen, the star safety who has been suspended for the first three games. It's a bad sign when your emotional leader takes some emotion from the season before it begins.
Utah lost its first four Pac-12 games last year. This year it opens conference play on the road (Arizona State), then plays at home against USC. Could be tough, gonna be rough.
The Utes better not plan on going anywhere more exotic than El Paso in the postseason.
With both Adam Kennedy and Chuckie Keeton back with starting quarterback experience, this could be a good thing, but everyone knows how that two-quarterback deal worked out at BYU.
The town wasn't big enough for the both of 'em.
Meanwhile, linebacker Bobby Wagner and running back Robert Turbin have graduated to the NFL.
The Aggies are picked to finish second in the WAC, which is good news, except for this part: Is there still a WAC? That's like being the last passenger on the Edmund Fitzgerald.
USU has Wisconsin, BYU, Utah and future Mountain West colleagues San Jose State and Colorado State on its schedule. If the Aggies win any of those, it will be a nice boost. If they drop them all, it's back to the old low-budget Aggies.
So there you have my UFO (Unidentified Football Occurrences) list for 2012.
It shouldn't be a bad year for any of Utah's colleges. But a knockout season?
Beam me up, Scotty.
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