Bear Notes, v11, #7

Wed 9/10/2003 3:25 PM

Cal at Utah, Thursday 4:45pm, ESPN

Utah is 1-1, 2-0 ATS, Sagarin #55
Cal is 1-2, 2-1 ATS, Sagarin #44
Spread: Utah by 2

Utah's starting QB, Brett Elliott won't play... Utah beat Utah State and lost at Texas A&M by 2.

More than you ever wanted to know, complements of Peter Dudley
Both Utah and Cal face a short week this week for a nationally televised game. Although the Bears play away, Utah was away on Saturday in Texas, so I'm not sure either team has any advantage from the short week.

The Utes will be missing several key players, and some others are questionable:

QB Brett Elliott (out), 2-time all-MWC DE (out), starting running back Marty Johnson (out), OG Kemeoatu (questionable), WR Savoy (questionable)

Utah will play either sophomore talent Alex Smith or senior Lance Rice, who started five games last year before giving way to the injured Elliott. Smith saw action against Utah State and was 5 of 7 for 86 yards, with four rushes for 0 yards. Smith also tossed two TDs in that game. He did not appear in the A&M game.

The Utes scored on a 45-yard bomb on 4th down with 8 seconds left to pull within 2 of A&M last Saturday. They failed the 2-point conversion to tie, in the process losing their QB to a broken wrist. The Utes outscored the Aggies 26-7 in the second half. In their first game, they scored 26 in the second half (19 in the fourth quarter) in a 40-20 win over Utah State. Considering that Cal has performed better in the second half in all three of their games, this is a game to watch right to the end.

Some amazing statistics from Utah's loss to Texas A&M:

    Including punts, Utah ran 104 plays.

    That was 41 more than A&M ran.

    Utah held the ball for 37:23.

    The two teams combined for FOURTEEN FUMBLES

    Utah fumbled nine times but only lost three

    Utah attempted six 4th-down tries and converted 4

How do you fumble nine times and hold the ball an ENTIRE QUARTER longer than the other guys? That probably explains why the Utes were able to score twice in the final six minutes--A&M's defense must have been nackered.


The Utes are 1-1 under their new coach, Urban Meyer. Meyer came from Bowling Green, where he was 17-6 including 5-0 against BCS teams, with two wins over ranked opponents. Bowling Green started 2002 with eight straight wins and entered the top 20.


Even though Utah lost their starting running back to injury, junior Brandon Warfield has filled in nicely, averaging 177 yards per game rushing (4th nationally). He has 69 carries in two games with 4 TDs and a 5.1 yards per carry average. He is an all-America candidate who averaged 102 yards a game rushing last year. (The other guy led the nation in rushing until his season ended with a knee injury.)

He will be running behind a line made up of 2 senior tackles, two juniors (RG and C), and one sophomore (LG). The Utes also have two seniors and one junior at TE. The OL has not allowed a sack in their two games, so they seem fairly accomplished and solid at that position. The only question is Kemeoatu's RG spot, where the depth chart shows two freshmen behind him... but he could return this week.

All in all, this appears to be a capable offense, with a very strong running game. The good news for the Bears is that they could be tired on a short week and Warfield carried 36 times on Saturday. The season is still young, though, and Utah has a bye next week.

Still, with just 18 completions in 40 attempts and 11 yards per catch, this is not as balanced an offense as KSU or CSU. The Bears defense will focus on Warfield and, hopefully, hold him in check. The Bears should also focus on creating turnovers--nine fumbles in one game is a fluke, but it may be indicative of a fumble-prone team.


A&M racked up 223 rushing yards on Saturday on 38 carries (6 ypc). They did not attempt too many passes but were reasonably efficient when they did (12 of 18 for 145 yards, or 67% completion and 12 yards per catch).

They are missing their key defensive starter, two-time all-conference DE Kaufusi. Without him, their DL contains two seniors and two sophomores. The linebacking corps is mixed as well, starting one senior, one junior, and one sophomore. Their DBs are old, though, all juniors or seniors, with some depth as well. Without Kaufusi, though, the defense returns just four starters overall (two of them DBs).

The Ute defense got two sacks versus Utah State but none against A&M. They have 13 TFL in the two games. They have one INT (vs Utah State) and three fumble recoveries, which puts them -1 in turnovers in their two games.


With the loss of Elliott, Utah have just three offensive starters from last year and will no doubt focus on their running game with Warfield. The Bears should be able to get some pressure on the QB when they do throw, and they should be able to pack the line to stuff the run.

The Utah defense is also young and untested against an offense with potential. Robertson should have time to pick out his receivers, and although not having Makonnen hurts, the Bears have enough talent, depth, speed, and variety in their receiving corps to spin the LBs and DBs heads.

If Cal is to win this game, they must jave a good, error-free game on offense, and stuff Utah's running game. The game hinges on the offense's ability to execute and the defense's endurance and discipline.