Bleeding Red: Offense really clicking with Travis Wilson at QB

Utah’s off to a promising start
Finally the offense is rolling
All I can hear is my beating heart
Four more wins and Utah goes bowling

COMMENTARY — Four more wins and the Utah Utes can go bowling.

The fearsome Pac-12 slate is still on the horizon, so celebrating a shot at going to a bowl this early would be premature, however the Utes did play very well last week. Fresno State is obviously not the same level as last year, with many of their stars now making a living in the NFL. Nevertheless, it was still a step up in competition from Idaho State.

The special teams continue to be, well, special. Utah had its first kickoff of the year returned after starting with 14 straight no returns in the first two games. Punter Tom Hackett averaged more than 55 yards per punt without a single return. On the other side of the ball, Fresno State intentionally kicked away from the explosive Kaelin Clay, resulting in some poor punts and good field position for the Utes.

The defense was solid, but not spectacular.

The real treat last week was watching Utah’s offense. Even Travis Wilson is starting to earn my respect. Wilson made some good reads in handing off in the running game, and had a decent block in the backfield on a reverse. Wilson’s best throw of the day was a perfectly thrown ball that hit Dres Anderson in full stride in the end zone for a 38-yard touchdown.

Utah QB Travis Wilson | Photo by Tom Smart/Utah Sports Information
Utah QB Travis Wilson | Photo by Tom Smart/Utah Sports Information

I think I have figured out why I have been so slow to jump on the Travis Wilson bandwagon. Please bear with me for a minute, because this is going to take a bit of an explanation.

I absolutely love Dr. Pepper. It is my soda of choice, and it’s not even close. Earlier this year, when I learned about Dr. Pepper licorice, I could not wait to try this tasty treat. After searching for it in local stores for months with no success, my wife finally ordered a package on-line and surprised me for my birthday. I was so excited to taste it that I could hardly contain myself when I unwrapped my licorice present.

6859492815d90d22cd05366b678109e9The problem was that I was somewhat disappointed. The Dr. Pepper licorice was pretty good, but it just wasn’t what I was expecting. The anticipation and excitement that had built up over several months had created unrealistic expectations to the point that nothing short of real Dr. Pepper sliding down my throat could have satisfied me.

On the flip side, sometimes we get pleasant surprises when our expectations are not so high. Case in point: The movie Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.Not only did I not have high expectations for this movie, I had no expectations whatsoever. To my surprise, this film tickled my funny bone to the point that I was laughing chocolate milk out of my nose.

So what does this have to do with Utah football? Travis Wilson is my Dr. Pepper licorice. During Wilson’s freshman year, no one was calling louder than me for Kyle Whittingham to finally start the promising freshman. I was so excited to see a true freshman start and play well that I created unrealistic expectations for Wilson going forward which he could never fulfill.

The good news is that Wilson is playing well. The better news is that if the unspeakable happens and Wilson goes down again, the Utes’ QB cupboard is far from bare.

This week Utah has a bye as it prepares to go on the road against Michigan next week. So keep calm, recharge your batteries, and get ready for The Big House in Ann Arbor on Sept. 20.

On a side note, at 2-0 the Utes are already one-third of the way to the six wins needed to be bowl eligible. Fans are taking notice and are coming out in droves to support their team . . . at least if you believe the numbers.

Packed house? Fresno State at Uath, Salt Lake City, Utah, Sept. 6, 2014 | Photo by Dwayne Vance, St. George News
Packed house? Fresno State at Uath, Salt Lake City, Utah, Sept. 6, 2014 | Photo by Dwayne Vance, St. George News

Apparently, Utah had 45,925 people in attendance at the Idaho State game, the fifth-largest crowd in the history of Rice-Eccles Stadium. It doesn’t sound quite right does it? Granted, 800 seats have been added to the stadium this season, but it just didn’t feel like a capacity crowd.

The official attendance tally for the Fresno State game was 45,864, making it the sixth-largest crowd of all time (edging out both the 2008 TCU game and the 2012 BYU game). Being the naysaying lawyer that I am, I’m going to call foul.

Seriously, Comic Con at the Salt Palace Convention Center was twice the draw as the football game last Saturday with more than 100,000 real live bodies in attendance.

It’s one thing to call these games sellouts, because the tickets were indeed actually sold. It’s another thing altogether to creatively count people in attendance who simply were not in the stadium. Even with the 800 seats that were added to the stadium this year, I am very confident that there were far more than 800 empty seats, so there is no way that last week could rightfully be called the sixth-largest crowd in history.

Why do I care? Because my son and I actually sat in the stadium during many of the top 10 crowds in Utah history. During those games the stadium was absolutely rocking with the Idaho State and Fresno State games paling in comparison. It is an outright insult to those prior crowds to even pretend that they were bested by the milquetoast crowds that have turned out for the last two games.

Speaking of exaggerations and untruths, we have the U.S. Congress as Exhibit A. I’d be laughing chocolate milk out of my nose at the futility and antics of Congress if it was not so truly pitiful and sad. Have I mentioned that I’m running for Congress in Utah’s 1st Congressional District and I hope to have a chance to make a meaningful and positive change in Washington?

Dwayne Vance is a columnist covering the Utah Utes. The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of St. George News.

Email: sports@stgnews.com

Twitter: @oldschoolag

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2014, all rights reserved.

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