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Utah QB Watch: Whoever Starts Must Have A Simple Playbook

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – If Utah is serious about competing for a Pac-12 championship, it would be wise for them to have already internally named a starting quarterback.

Unlike any other traditional football season this one is a sprint and I mean a Usain Bolt lace up the cleats as tight as you can, tie them in a double knot and go … sprint!

Normally you have to pace yourself through a football season. This pace is often referred to as a marathon pace. If you burn too much energy too early in the race you will never finish. A marathon pace requires a methodical, even-keeled mindset. Don’t get too excited about an early-season victory against a USC-type opponent and don’t get too down on a tough road loss at Arizona State.

With only the max potential of seven games, the Pac-12 is pretty bold in thinking with the ever-changing climate of the COVID-19 pandemic, that they will play seven games in seven straight weeks. Therefore, Utah has to start fast and never look back.

Key To Success Is Simplification For Utah QB

How do you start fast if you are Utah, you ask? The answer is simplifying the playbook. I know, I know, in an article last week I said that a simplified playbook could lead to a stagnant offense with limited production, but I’m changing my mind and I’m also thinking the defense needs to do the same.

In 1995 while I was playing for the Detroit Lions a similar situation arose. We had started the season 0-3 and the coach was at a loss as to how to fix the situation. We didn’t have a lot of time to turn it around. In fact, only two teams prior to the 95 Lions had started the season 0-3 and made the playoffs. Essentially, we had dug ourselves in a hole and dramatically shortened our season.

The solution was a simplified offense. The results were staggering. I threw for 4,400 yards and 33 touchdowns. Two wide receivers had over 1,000 yards in receptions and over 100 catches. We did it all with 8 passing plays. Yes, you heard right 8 passing plays. Oh, and some guy named Barry Sanders rushed for 1,500 yards and we made the playoffs.

Players play better when they are not thinking, in fact, it’s impossible to play effective football on either offense or defense if you have to think too much. It’s the problem with the Dallas Cowboy’s defense right now. The system is too complicated.

Give the quarterback at Utah simple effective plays and keep the defense simple so these young inexperienced players can fly around the field and make plays. Don’t worry that the other teams will catch on and adjust. By the time they do most of the season will be over. Plus, you can add more complexity as the season goes on, but don’t stifle the players with too much too soon.

On another note, if Utah has named a starting QB by now shouldn’t we know? I mean, doesn’t Utah want to sell tickets and create fan excitement? Oh wait, there are not going to be any fans at the games. Shouldn’t inquiring minds know? Hey, Utah is a public school aren’t we entitled to know?

The answer is no.

It’s not because you can’t handle the truth. It’s just a good strategy by the Utah coaching staff.

The two quarterbacks at Utah fighting to be the starter have different styles. Jake Bentley is more of a pocket passer and less of a run threat. Cam Rising is more athletic and very capable of running. This changes how Arizona will game plan for Utah on defense.

Is this a significant problem for Arizona? It’s not earth-shattering, but it causes the team to split its focus defensively and that can make them less effective.

The word of the day is simplify.

Keep it simple and you will have great success in the sprint of a season.

Scott Mitchell hosts the Helmets Off podcast and KSL Unrivaled on KSL Newsradio. Find him on Twitter here.

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