The Ralphie Report sat down with the SB Nation Utah Utes blog, Block U, for a little Q&A session leading up to tomorrow's game. It wasn't easy because we have been raised since birth to hate each other, but somehow we were able to put our disdain for the other's schools aside for a moment.
You can check out my answers to their questions here.
Hate week. Rivalry week. Tradition. History. It's the one week each year where we... what's that? We're not actually rivals? Well then, since conference realignment has brought us together I guess we will have to do the best we can. How do most Utah fans feel about Colorado?
I think most Ute fans are indifferent toward Colorado. That might sound more harsh than it actually is. They just don't see it as a rivalry and the fact your team isn't really contending for the Pac-12 South right now makes it that much easier to ignore what they've done this season. But boy if you win Friday, coupled with Cal knocking off ASU and USC beating UCLA, we'll be mighty pissed and that definitely could spark some true hatred!
Utah's first year in the Pac-12 has been up and down. After a 0-3 start in conference play the team has now played their way back into the Pac-12 South race with 5 wins in the last 6 games. How are Utah fans feeling about the season so far?
I think Ute fans are feeling quite a bit better about this season than they were in September. It was actually an 0-4 start to conference play, so the comeback has been even more remarkable. Certainly no one expected things to be this difficult, especially losing Jordan Wynn, but now that the team has been able to settle down a bit, things have improved greatly and we're optimistic about where things are going. For a stretch there, though, it looked like we were going to park ourselves at the bottom of the weak Pac-12 South.
How has Jon Hays played in his time as the starting quarterback this year? Is he a threat to start next season or will the job likely go back to Jordan Wynn when he is healthy?
Jon Hays got off to a rough start. His first full game was a disaster, as he threw three interceptions. His second game was better, but then he regressed against Cal (again, three picks), before really turning it around the last four weeks. Hays is not a great quarterback, but he’s doing just enough to keep the offense from being catastrophic. In the last game, against Washington State, Hays had some huge throws in the second half and it really altered the dynamics of the game, because John White IV was struggling to find anything on the ground early. That’s not the first time Hays has been effective enough through the air. If he continues to just manage the offense, he’ll be okay.
With that said, it’s hard to imagine Hays as the starter again next year. He’ll only lead this offense if Jordan Wynn once again is injured and we hope that isn’t the case, because the offense returns so many weapons that Wynn could really do some damage if he remains healthy.
We mentioned Jon Hays and we know how good running back John White IV can be, but who are the other players on offense that the Buffs defense will need to key on?
Utah has a very young and quick receiving core. DeVonte Christopher is still probably Utah's best receiver and he's made some big plays the last few weeks. With the Utes' passing game being fairly anemic right now, it's often up to the receivers to step up and go the extra length to make a play. When they do that, Utah's offense can move the ball and look decent enough doing it. When they don't, as was the case early against the Cougars last week, it all falls on White and it's not easy running when the defense is stacking the box.
Over the last four weeks the Utah defense has really started to catch fire, keeping UCLA and Oregon State both under 10 points and holding an extremely potent Arizona offense to only 21 in Tucson. What is the Ute D doing so well lately and who are the unit's MVP's?
The Utes' defense has been their saving grace this season. They are, at least in my view, the best in the conference. That wasn't always assured, though, as the secondary had a lot of questions entering this season and while they've been vulnerable at times this season, they've stepped up at key points and defended some of the best quarterbacks in the conference about as well as anyone could ever expect. The run defense is also fierce and probably the MVP, as a whole, of the entire defense. If you're a run-first team, like UCLA was two weeks ago, it's going to be difficult doing anything on the offensive side of the ball.
Anything that Buffs fans that are heading to the game should know? Tailgating, bars, parking, etc? How much are the liquor laws really different than they are here?
Tailgaters are welcome in the area just south-east of the stadium. It’s a pretty big lot and you’ll find most Ute fans are very welcoming. As for bars, most are located downtown in a few neighborhoods surrounding the University campus. If you’re staying downtown, you can hit up a few bars, or microbreweries, then take TRAX up to the stadium. TRAX is the light-rail line that runs throughout the valley and has several stops downtown. It lets off just outside the stadium, so it’s easier than parking and you don’t have to deal with game-day traffic.
Utah’s liquor laws can be strange. But you’ll probably not notice them too much. A few years ago, the state did away with club memberships, so now you can enter a sports bar or club without buying a membership. There are also liquor stores throughout parts of the city that sell the liquor you’d see in any other liquor store. Beer can be purchased in stores, but it is that pesky 3.2 stuff. I really don’t think the difference is all that massive, but some beer snobs might.
Predictions on the game?
I think Utah is determined and playing its best football of the season. Colorado is not a good team, so I think the Utes should win. I hope I'm right and I'll go with a 35-10 Utah win.
Last time I saw the Utes in person was the Utah, Kentucky, Stanford, UNC Final Four. Can you briefly give us a look of what to expect from Utah basketball this year?
Expect them to lose every game they play and they're a lock for the bottom of the Pac-12.