Utes: Simplest way to win the Pac-12

Deseret News file photo

Deseret News file photo

Talent is huge when building a great college football team. There’s nothing bigger.

Except health.

People tend to remember a team’s talent a lot more than its injuries. Utah starts its season this week, having not had a starting quarterback play the whole season since 2008. While both the 2004 and 2008 BCS bowl teams had plenty of NFL players, they also remained mostly injury-free.

It’s impossible to avoid injuries, yet they usually determine what type of season results. Thus in 2004, Alex Smith, Marty Johnson, Quinton Ganther, Steve Savoy and Morgan Scalley played in every game. Eric Weddle and Sione Pouha played in 11 and 10 games, respectively.

Similarly, Brian Johnson, Matt Asiata, Darrell Mack, Eddie Wide, Freddie Brown, Bradon Godfrey, Mike Wright, Stevenson Sylvester, Koa Misi and Paul Kruger played in all 13 games in 2008.

Football is so fast and violent, it’s nearly impossible to avoid major injuries to key players.  That’s why depth is so critical in a conference like the Pac-12. If you have talent beneath the talent, you can get through. If not, you end up with 5-win seasons.

As a side note, here is the column I wrote following the Utes’ Fiesta Bowl-clinching win over BYU in 2004. It might be worth a read, since this sort of thing might not be happening again anytime soon.




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