As I sat in the Los Angeles Coliseum on Saturday, watching Utah get beat by USC, a fellow sports writer said to me, “Well, this isn’t Laramie.”
In more ways than one.
It’s true that looking at the L.A. skyline, and seeing 65,000 fans in the stadium, is different sight than the windswept plains of Laramie. But the bigger shift is in talent and depth. There are no teams so talent-shy that the Utes can just roll over them.
That’s the thing about Utah: it’s still too thin. Jake Murphy, Kenneth Scott and Brian Blechen are out with injuries and QB Travis Wilson has ongoing issues with his sprained index finger. That much alone is enough to keep the Utes from winning another game this season.
I believe the Utes will win again, twice, if Wilson’s hand normalizes, making them bowl eligible. If he’s not healthy, I don’t see them winning any more games. In which case the Utes will look, on paper, worse than ever. In real life, they did have better overall ability this year than the last two.
Utah doesn’t release specific details on injuries; the program is highly secretive about it. But after catching an up-close look at Wilson’s hand last Saturday, I didn’t think it looked all that good. There was purple scarring and the hand looked tender to me. I’m thinking it’s more serious than a sprained finger.
At any rate, Wilson was progressing until the injury against Stanford. Now he can’t complete a significant pass. If that doesn’t improve, look for Utah to finish with a four- or five-win season. In which case you won’t be able to tell the difference between this year’s Utes and any other Pac-12 year.
Laramie, they hardly knew ye.