Utah, Colorado struggling after move to Pac-12
Utah left the Mountain West Conference behind, hoping a switch
to the Pac-12 would give the program a chance to move beyond its
Colorado left behind the Big 12, figuring the style of the West
Coast conference would be a better fit.
So far, it hasn’t gone well.
Nearing the midpoint of their first season in the Pac-12, the
Buffaloes and Utes are both winless in the reconfigured conference
and searching for answers that may take a while to find.
”We’re off, but it’s just a little bit,” Utah coach Kyle
Whittingham said Tuesday. ”Everyone in this conference is a little
bit bigger, a little bit fast and a little bit stronger than the
previous conference we were in.”
The size and speed isn’t much of a change for Colorado.
In the Big 12, the Buffaloes faced mammoth linemen, gun-slinging
quarterbacks and talented skill players pretty much every week. Of
course, Colorado didn’t exactly fare well against those teams.
Since 2006, when Dan Hawkins took over as head coach, the Buffaloes
have failed to reach a winning record; the best they could do was a
6-7 finish in 2007.
It hasn’t gotten a whole lot better for Colorado in its first
season in a new conference and under coach Jon Embree.
The Buffaloes are just 1-5, their only win over rival Colorado
State of the Mountain West. Colorado still hasn’t won a road game,
extending its away-from-Boulder skid to a school-record 19 games,
and has yet to beat a team in its new league.
The Buffaloes had a chance to beat California in the second game
of the season – a previously scheduled nonconference game – before
falling 36-33 in overtime and followed that by blowing a 10-point
lead in the final 3 minutes in a loss to Washington State. Colorado
never stood a chance in its latest game, a 48-7 blowout at No. 7
Stanford on Saturday that had Embree chewing the team out.
The Buffaloes are 11th in the Pac-12 in total offense, middle of
the pack on defense and trying to find a way not to get
”I feel like they’re dealing with it well,” Embree said.
”It’s still important to them to play and try to win, and it’s
still important to them to compete and try to find a way to try and
build what we’re trying to do here.”
The original BCS buster, Utah, was supposed to be one of the
three teams to beat in the Pac-12 South, with Arizona State and
USC. Instead, the Utes are just above Arizona at the bottom of the
division, 2-3 overall and winless in three conference games.
Utah has the conference’s worst offense in terms of total yards,
which doesn’t figure to get much better with quarterback Jordan
Wynn out for the season because of a shoulder injury. The Utes also
have had trouble holding onto the ball, turning it over 10 times
the past two games and a Pac-12-high 13 overall.
Utah had kept games close early in the season but may have had
its worst game last Saturday, turning it over five times as No. 22
Arizona State turned a close game into a rout. The Utes, on the
heels of their first three-game conference losing streak since
2002, held a players-only meeting after the loss to the Sun Devils
in an effort to get themselves straightened out.
”It’s not a time to panic or feel sorry for yourself,” Utah
offensive lineman Tony Bergstrom said. ”It’s one of those things
where you dug yourself into a hole and got to dig yourself out.
It’s something that’s just going to require more work and attention
Colorado needs to do the same thing or it’s going to be an even
longer season for the Pac-12’s two newest teams.
AP Sports Writer Lynn DeBruin in Salt Lake City contributed to