QB Jon Hays (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)
With the first Pac-12 game of the 2012 season just two days away, we decided to sit down with Block U to discuss some important things - mainly, Utah's quarterback situation, their defense, and their traditions.
Thanks to Nick Marek, our newest writer on staff, for penning the questions you see below. And definitely head on over to Block U if you want to chat about the game, but be respectful (I know you will be).
House of Sparky: How have you guys handled the news that Jordan Wynn is no longer your starting quarterback and instead he will be coaching from the sidelines?
Block U: I think a good number of Utah fans kind of expected the news long before it actually happened. Jordan Wynn has never played a complete season at Utah and had, prior to the USU game, two season-ending injuries that required extensive surgery. So, when the news hit, it wasn't a big surprise. That said, we felt bad for him. You could tell he really wanted to play and lead this team to success - to prove all those who doubted him wrong.
Unfortunately, he couldn't deliver and it's sad ... it always is when a career is ended. Even so, with how sketchy Wynn looked in the opener and for the first few drives against the Aggies a couple weeks ago, it became clear that not only was he physically limited now because of his past injuries, but that he was also mentally limited. He just wasn't the same as the Wynn we saw in 2009 and 2010.
House of Sparky: What are your expectations for the program this year after getting snubbed in overtime to Utah State and then beating a ranked, cross-town rival BYU the following week?
Block U: We're still trying to figure everything out. The team looked competitive against BYU and that has certainly given us hope that maybe, over time, this team can progress into something decent. I don't expect many fans believe we'll win the Pac-12 South, but the hope is there that they can become a respectable team that plays hard and well the remainder of the season.
The thing we've got to realize, though, is that it's just one game and a week ago, everyone was ready to write off the season after the USU debacle. So, you don't want to get too down or too up until there is evidence of something forming here. Hopefully, against ASU, we can play more like the team that knocked off BYU and less like the team that struggled against the Aggies.
But there is definitely some hope. Utah did an almost 180 in terms of preparation and play this past week and did so without their starting running back and two of their best defensive players, who are expected back this Saturday. John White IV, the running back who sat out last Saturday's game, was essentially the Utes' offense last year and it was nice to see that the offense didn't just evaporate without a running game (and let's be clear, they lacked a running game against BYU).
If White returns, and they say he will (though they also said he'd play last weekend), the offense should have one more weapon and, with Utah's defense, it'd be foolish to count them out in any game.
House of Sparky: Almost every football expert picked USC as the pre-season favorite in the Pac12 South. Do you feel Utah deserves more recognition in the Pac12?
Block U: I think they have to earn it. I see no reason to believe they should be a favorite at this point. I guess that could change with a win Saturday, though.
House of Sparky: Did you see any weaknesses from the Sun Devils during the ASU-Missouri game that Utah needs to take advantage o this weekend?
Block U: Since the ASU-Missouri game was literally the game before BYU-Utah (on the same channel and everything), I haven't had a chance to watch it. But I've read about the contest and it appears turnovers could be a problem and that gives me hope considering, against the Cougars, the Utes forced a lot of turnovers ... well, what should have been turnovers, but weren't because of the bounce of the ball.
This defense is stingy and very capable of causing some major turnovers. So, there is certainly some hope there. If ASU has four turnovers again this weekend, I like Utah's chances.
House of Sparky: Does the program have any unique gameday traditions?
Block U: Unique is subjective, I guess. There aren't many traditions that are solely Utah-based and that's because much of the program's success has been recent (last 20 years or so). I think our student section (the MUSS) is pretty great, but, again, not very unique. There is Crazy Lady, who dances at the start of the second half to the theme of Blues Brothers and the new Taiko Drum that they roll out prior to the fourth quarter. Other than that, you've got the Third Down Jump, which is pretty cool and I guess unique ... and happens on every third down.
House of Sparky: Would you rather be in Tempe, AZ or Salt Lake City, UT right now in regards to weather, atmosphere and football?
Block U: I've never attended an ASU game, so, I can't really say in regards to atmosphere. But there is nothing quite like late-September, early-October fall in Salt Lake City. It's the perfect football weather (generally). Now, if you're talking about late-October and November, well...
Thanks again to Block U for answering our questions!