Previewing Utah’s 2022 Schedule With Unrivaled: UCLA
SALT LAKE CITY- Summer is around the corner which means it’s a great time to start thinking about the 2022 Utah football schedule. While we are still a few months out from fall camp, it’s never too early to start previewing the Utes’ opponents with the help of Alex Kirry and Scott Mitchell of Unrivaled. Last week we previewed Utah’s seventh game of the season against USC, with the help of the Voice of USC Football, Pete Arbogast. This week we go to the sixth game of the season against UCLA with the help of sideline reporter Wayne Cook.
UCLA On The Rise
Since Chip Kelly took over the Bruins in 2018 it has been a tough climb for UCLA to get back on track. According to Cook, Kelly wasted no time trying to build the team how he wanted it, which ultimately meant taking several steps back with the hope of moving forward.
“We have a lot of offensive weapons back, we lost a few weapons up front, but because of the way Chip Kelly built this team and I’ve been trying to tell people this- that first year they gutted the team,” Cook said. “It was almost like we were coming off of a probation. Our numbers were so bad and we struggled. We played a very young quarterback early on in Dorian Thompson-Robinson and it was a rough go.”
“You started seeing in the Covid season, even though it was a 3-4 record that we could have won every game we played in,” Cook continued. “I think every game we played in, we lost by a total of 14 points so you could see it turning. This last year was 8-4 very easily could have been 10-2. You can see it developing, probably not as fast as most modern-day people would like it to, but I really like what coach is building.”
Many believed DTR would move on after last season, however, he chose to take his super-senior season with the Bruins in 2022. DTR’s career has not been the smoothest, but Cook believes Thompson-Robinson has made strides in his game, and could be much better in his final year at UCLA.
“Dorian- I think him only playing one year of high school- we’ve watched him mature,” Cook said. “If you know quarterback play, he’s doing a lot of things better now. I even remember last year saying, ‘Holy cow, when did Dorian learn to throw a short crossing route with touch?’ He was never doing that before and now all of a sudden he’s done it and figured it out he doesn’t have to throw it here every time he throws the ball. He’s making quicker decisions, he’s learning how to run. He moves forward now, he doesn’t go backwards.”
Cook’s Thoughts On The Utes
Cook was very complimentary about Utah and their process of becoming one of the top teams in the Pac-12.
“Utah’s earned it,” Cook said. “This is another program that has shown extreme patience and really stuck to what they were doing. They were close and kept knocking on the door until they finally got in. I almost wish more programs would do that across the country. I think Utah has been a great example.”
Cook also has an appreciation for Utah quarterback Cam Rising and his style of play. One aspect, Cook finds annoying about today’s college football game is the hyper-focus on stats and not actually watching how the players play. From Cook’s perspective, if more people actually payed attention to how an athlete looks performing rather than just the stats racked up that guys like Rising would be Heisman Trophy candidates.
“I hate that so many people out there- and lets be honest we have too many people involved in this that don’t- they look at stats,” Cook said. “It’s like people who look at Troy Aikmen’s stats and tell me he isn’t good enough for the Hall of Fame. You just need to shut up and go away. Like I don’t care about stats, did you actually watch him play? I just think people are funny sometimes. I think he’s about as pure of a quarterback as I’ve ever seen and I’m being serious when I say that and not just because he was a UCLA guy, but because he was awesome. The idea that Cam Rising does this in a little bit of an old-school way, but at the same time he is a modern quarterback because he has the agility of these big, strong quarterbacks. He can move and he can run. Who knows how that Rose Bowl would have turned out had he not got hurt or if you had a full secondary? I actually thought you guys would have won that game.”
Prediction For The South
Looking at how the South stacks up in the Pac-12 for 2022, Cook sees a little bit of a different picture when it comes to who will come out on top.
“What I’m hoping for in the Pac-12 South- I don’t know that SC is going to make the jump everybody says,” Cook said. “I think they have a bunch of skill guys, but I don’t know that they did what they need to in the trenches. I think Arizona is going to get better, but it’s going to take them a while. I really do think UCLA and Utah are the two best teams in the South. I think UCLA has a lot of new faces on defense, but they’ve done a really good job of keeping some guys, and getting some guys out of the portal that will really, really help. They have maturity and leadership.”
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