Suddenly, the prospects for the University of Utah football team aren't nearly as bright as they were only two weeks ago. Since winning their first two games, the Utes have lost their last two games to even their record at 2-all.
So far, all the hometown fans have seen of the 1990 Utes are two losses and two touchdowns.On Saturday night, Utah lost to Hawaii for the fifth consecutive time, 19-7. Seven days earlier Utah lost to Fresno State 31-7. Both games were played in Salt Lake City.
Things won't get easier anytime soon. Utah plays the University of Wyoming on Saturday night in Rice Stadium. The Cowboys are 4-0 and appear to be BYU's top challenger in the race for the Western Athletic Conference championship. The Cowboys have beaten Temple, Washington State, Arkansas State and Air Force.
Like Hawaii, Wyoming will come to Salt Lake City riding a four-game winning streak over Utah.
"We've got to go back and solve some problems," said Ute coach Ron McBride after the Hawaii game. "We solved some more problems last week. We played a lot better this week than last. We've got to get better, though. We need to score more than seven points."
The Utes' first order of business this week will be fixing the offense. My how times have changed. For years, the Utes have had one of the nation's top offenses and one of the nation's worst defenses. Now the defense is solid finally and the offense is struggling. Utah is averaging 17 points and 348 yards per game.
From the beginning, the Utes have tried to produce a balanced running-passing attack. It hasn't worked out that way. The Utes still must rely on the pass. They have totaled just 350 rushing yards in four games - which ranks last in the WAC.
"We moved the ball, we just didn't score," said quarterback Mike Richmond.
Indeed, the Utes had the ball at the Hawaii 25-, 21-, 35-, 43- and 9-yard lines and came away scoreless each time.
What little offense there was came mostly through the air. Tight end Mike Anglesey caught four passes for 73 yards, wideout Bryan Rowley three for 66 and wideout Sean Hutson five for 39.Halfback Steve Abrams rushed for 80 yards on 21 carries.
On defense, the story again was linebacker Anthony Davis, who had what for him has become a routine Saturday night. He had 11 tackles, including six solos and one sack. Already this season he has collected more than 50 tackles, more than half of them solos.
Against Hawaii, defensive backs Emanuel Powell and Sean Knox had 17 tackles between them.
"It's disappointing to lose," said McBride. "There's not much you can do except continue to fight and try to improve."
At least the Utes are still healthy. Mike DeHoog, the team's best offensive lineman, sprained an ankle Saturday, but he is expected to be ready to play against Wyoming. Cornerback Mark Swanson, who missed the Hawaii game with a sprained knee, also is expected to return this week.