Interview With Utah Blog Writer Sean Reynolds

Sean Reynolds, the writer over at BlockU.com graciously agreed to answer some questions for me. This is becoming a bit of a theme for me, and after speaking with Mark Kieffer, you can expect to see at least one interview per week from me. On to the questions!

Paul Conrad: Up front, I confess, I don't know as much about Utah's game plan as I probably should. That said, looking at the statistics, Utah's Offense, Defense and Special teams have been dominant and are in the 75th percentile virtually across the board and in some instances considerably higher. What should Iowa State expect from the Ute's on Offense this Saturday?

Sean Reynolds: Utah's offense has appeared very fluid this season. That's not a surprise to many of our fans because they brought back a great deal of players from 2009. At quarterback, Jordan Wynn is a sophomore and looks every bit as good as advertised during the offseason. Of course, the Utes have also played so pretty bad defenses and I'm guessing that has something to do with it. Because of that, I'm not expecting an offense that puts up 44 points per game over the next few months as the schedule toughens up considerably.

 
The Utes are a very high-tempo offense that runs the spread option similarly to what you see at Florida. That, of course, was introduced to the program under Urban Meyer when he spent two years coaching here in 2003 and 2004. Kyle Whittingham, our current head coach, has kept much of that offense and has seen pretty solid results over the last five seasons.
 
So expect some option looks, but also don't be surprised if Utah tries to grind it out. They've got two fantastic backs in Eddie Wide and Matt Asiata and it would not shock me if the coaching staff relied on them a bit more than they have the past four games.

PC: In the same vein, what defense does Utah run, and has the defense been successful against a team with a balanced running/passing attack like Iowa State runs?

SR: Utah likes to run the 4-3 defense and it has essentially been Whittingham's baby since he became the Utes' defensive coordinator in 1995. Utah has had some of the best defenses nationally under Whittingham and this year doesn't appear much different, even though they replaced a ton of talent due to graduation and the NFL draft. If there is a spot on the program where the team generally reloads, it's here.
 
The Utes' defensive strength heading into the season appeared to be against the run. Sure enough, in the opener against Pitt, they shut down Dion Lewis. In the secondary, that's where we had so many more questions because of the talent lost. However, though the competition has been weak, they do appear to be good here, as they rank 12th nationally in pass defense.

More after the jump

PC: Utah moved up to #10 in the rankings this Sunday, and while meaning no disrespect, your opponents have gone 4-15 so far on the season. I saw some of the game against Pitt, in which Utah was very impressive. Can you elaborate on why Utah deserves to be ranked 10th?

 

SR: I don't know if Utah deserves to be ranked 10th. We're happy with the ranking, but you're right - this team has yet to be truly tested against good teams. That will come and if we're not a true top-ten team, that will also show in the coming weeks. With that said, fans are optimistic because Utah had a very similar early season schedule last year and didn't look nearly as good. They played some bad teams to start 2009 and struggled in a handful of those games, rarely dominating the opposition. This year, though, they're running through the bad opponents. That's a good sign. With that said, I think every Utah fan thinks Iowa State will be the first barometer game this season. 

PC: From all accounts, the Utah defense is very young, with only 3 starters returning to the team in 2010, how has the young defense improved week to week and what kind of improvement would you like to see this week?

SR: The defense has pretty much looked stout from week one on and that has been a surprise with how much talent they lost after the 2009 season. It's hard to really ask for much more improvement when you're toward the top of the nation in almost every important category. The bottom line is that this year's defense has only given up one touchdown in three games. That's impressive no matter who the opponent is and hopefully it continues over into this week.

PC: Last week, Iowa State faced Texas Tech, they, like Utah this coming week, had a bye before facing us at home. Tech had some serious problems getting into the game in the first half, comparatively, how has Utah done coming off of bye weeks in the past?

SR: Kyle Whittingham is 5-0 after a bye at Utah and I think that number speaks for itself. When given the extra prep time, Utah is pretty damn good. That number rises when you include bowl games (Whittingham is 5-0 there, too).

Thanks to Sean, and look for my answers to his questions on BlockU.com later this week!

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