2009 Sugar Bowl Stream-of-Conciousness Notes
Utah WR David Reed
Utah WR David Reed
Posted Jan 2, 2009

Utah pulled off the shocker of the bowl season by thoroughly dominating Alabama in a 31-17 win, and Pete Fiutak analyzes it all with his quarter-by-quarter, play-by-play look at the 2009 Sugar Bowl.

Fiu's Stream of Consciousness Notes

2009 Sugar Bowl – Utah vs. Alabama

By Pete Fiutak
Welcome again to my pretentious, goofy and self-serving stream-of-consciousness thoughts and notes on the big games, the broadcasts, the ads and the teams for the attention deficit disordered. E-mail me with your own thoughts and notes and what you'd like to see. 


- I’m in the minority here, but I really do think Utah has a shot to win this game. I don’t think it’s going to happen, I think Alabama’s defense will be too disciplined and too good, but this should be a solid game. At the very least it’ll be better than the last Sugar Bowl.

- C’mon Sugar Bowl. A few screaming fireworks during the national anthem? What’s next, shorts, dark socks and white shoes?

- I hate it when this happens. The Liberty Bowl is fantastic, but how many people are sticking with it with the Sugar Bowl about to get rolling?

- That’s not a good sign. Utah is getting ready to come out of the tunnel and they’re singing, “Just what makes that little old ant/think he’ll move that rubber tree plant … “

- Oooooooooof!!! Who’s watching the Liberty Bowl? That was an AMAZING fumble return for a touchdown by Kentucky lineman Ventrell Jenkins. That was the coolest stiff arm in the history of stiff arms. ECU QB Patrick Pinkney’s mouthpiece went flying.

First Quarter

Alabama on its own 27
- Alabama should come out running on the left side behind Mike Johnson, just to show that the loss of Andre Smith isn’t that big a deal.
- And that’s what the Tide does with Glen Coffee powering for four.
- Alabama needs to use that big offensive line and keep hammering the smallish Utah defensive front. Even if it doesn’t work early, it’ll open things up late.
- 2nd and 14. Bama can’t be in third and long situations.
- America, meet Paul Kruger.
- John Parker Wilson got a ton of time and panicked. To be fair, it was his first throw of the game. JPW overthrew Julio Jones, but Jones should’ve made the catch.
- Stevenson Smith blew past Mike Johnson like he was standing still and blasted JPW for the sack … cut the sideline and reading Nick Saban’s head: “(bleep)ing Andre Smith. (BLEEP)ING ANDRE SMITH.”

Utah on its own 33
- This is a great Liberty Bowl. A great, great Liberty Bowl.
- Perfect start for Utah. Put the ball in Brian Johnson’s hands, let his receivers get the ball in space, and let him make plays.
- Two throws, two first downs.
- Wow, wow, wow, wow, wow. No one ever agrees with me on this, but Bama, in this situation, should take a time out. Four plays, four completions, and Johnson is in a rhythm. It’s early, but Bama will get scored on in a heartbeat if it doesn’t gather itself in a big, big hurry.
- Touchdown. Holy crap that was easy. That was up tempo, crisp, concise, and freakishly good. Five plays, 69 yards, 1:19. Brent Casteel was open and got the score.
- No matter what happens the rest of the game, Utah has officially succeeded in forcing Bama fans to collectively wet themselves.
- Game on.

Utah 7 … Alabama 0

- No why couldn’t Florida do this? Instead of going red state and powering Tim Tebow a million times, why not actually use the spread in the SEC Championship Game?

Alabama on its own 28
- Was Alabama’s defense ever set on that drive? 
- Calm the game down, Alabama. Get the running game going. Crank out some yards, get a little time in, catch your breath …
- And then JPW throws a bad pick to Robert Johnson.

Utah on the Alabama 32
- I hate it when teams do this. You go five plays and march for a touchdown with the short to midrange passing game, and what do you do when you get the ball back? Throw a deep post and run the ball. Now it’s 3rd and 10, and …
- I’ll shut up now. Johnson hits David Reed for a deep past to get down to the five.
- Johnson is so smart. He doesn’t panic, he doesn’t force anything. The play breaks down and he just chucks it away.
- Oh, Matt Asiata in the Wildcat. I can’t believe everything is working. Alabama hasn’t arrived yet. Asiata shouldn’t have been able to do much, the right side of the Utah line blows away the Bama defensive front, and it’s 14-0 lead and we’re less than seven minutes into the game.
- Cut to Saban on the sidelines. “So the Cleveland Browns job is open, huh?”

Utah 14 – Alabama 0

Alabama on its own 20
- Again, Bama, settle this down. Start running, get a good drive going, and get your offense going.
- No, no, no, no, no. JPW had a wide open Nikita Wilson for the haymaker, but he overthrew him. That’s the panic play call. That’s the rookie play call. That’s the “our D doesn’t have it tonight” play call.
- False start Mike Johnson. That’s not going to be the last one on him in this game.
- Oooooh, Johnson is down with what looks like a leg injury after getting rolled up. He’s up, but now Bama is down to LT No. 3.
- At the moment, how January 1st is USC? That’s so yesterday.
- JPW needs his receivers to make plays. He’s finding them in the hands and the ball isn’t sticking.
- 3rd and five and JPW runs for the first down.
- All the running plays are going to the left side.
- Utah isn’t buying on any fake JPW is trying to make. Utah’s D is playing very, very disciplined.
- How Big Ten does Alabama look right now?
- JPW is smarter than this. He’s not getting much help, but he’s also failing to read the Ute pass rush.

Utah on its own 35
- Charissa Thompson. Google her. Trust me.
- Alabama’s defense simply isn’t coming up with any plays. There’s no pass rush, there are missed tackles, and the receivers are blowing past the Tide secondary.
- Johnson is pitching a perfect game. He’s five steps ahead of the Tide defense.
- Again, I’m going to be annoying with this … get a time out. Bama isn’t matching up with Utah and it needs a break.
- Pass interference, and Brent Casteel is talking some serious smack. Bama has to do something in a big, big hurry to change things up.
- That was an iffy pass interference call, but Ali Sharrief never got his head around.
- 21-0 Utah … and there are four minutes left in the first quarter. Bradon Godfrey housed the Bama corner on a brilliant route, turned around, and ducked in.
- This isn’t Boise State getting past a flat Oklahoma. This is Utah whipping a team that was a heartbeat away from playing for the national title

Utah 21 … Alabama 0

- Is FireNickSaban.com taken?

Alabama on its own 36
- Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the John Parker Wilson show.
- Bama needs some up-tempo of its own. The offense has to find some semblance of a rhythm.
- It’s working. Two big passes and a nice run and Bama is marching.
- Alabama just needs to … settle … down. It’s almost like the offense is anxious to find a 21-point play.
- JPW has to get it into his head in a big hurry that Andre Smith isn’t protecting his backside. A key third down play turns into a huge sack. This has not been a smart quarter of football for Alabama

First Quarter Score: Utah 21 – Alabama 0

Second Quarter

- Bama gets its first good play of the game. Leigh Tiffin nails a 52-yard bomb to give the team something positive.

Utah 21 … Alabama 3

Utah on its own 19
- Keep the energy up, Utah. Keep the tempo up, keep the defense on its heels, and keep on moving.
- And that’s exactly what Utah is doing. Two throws and a first down, and Johnson is keeping the offense hustling.
- Smart play by Johnson. Bobby Greenwood gets some pressure, comes up with the sack, and Johnson doesn’t panic and doesn’t try making something that isn’t there.
- Utah appears to be a tad gassed. The offensive linemen are moving a little slower.
- 3rd and 15. Alabama can turn this around with one big stop.
- And it gets it. Johnson completes the pass, but Sharrief makes a nice stop on Jereme Brooks.

Alabama on its own 20
- That defensive stop doesn’t mean much without a few first downs to settle the game down and halt the momentum.
- Mark Ingram is in. Bama can’t stop powering the ball. Again, Utah will wear down against this Tide line as long as it’s committed to running it.
- JPW has settled down. His throws aren’t sailing.
- Now Bama has Utah’s defense backpedalling and it’s coming from the line. Ingram is thumping behind the line that’s starting to lather up.
- Not yet, but soon, Utah will have to start cheating up and hope the corners can lock down one on one.
- And then you run the risk of that. Utah’s Sean Smith is all proud of himself, but Nikita Stover dropped a touchdown pass.
- The Bama line is opening up ten-mile wide holes and Ingram is taking advantage.
- This drive is going too well to not finish with a touchdown. A field goal would be a defeat.
- Koa Misi blows into the backfield and now it’s 3rd and 11.
- OHHHHH. Utah should’ve had a pick, bobbled, and Terrell Cole just missed.
- Not only was this not a touchdown drive, but Tiffin missed the field goal. That was a heart-ripping drive. EVERYTHING was working for the Tide, and nothing came out of it.
- Bullspit. Like the hot chick in the Bud Light ad doesn’t know what baba ganoush is.

Utah on its own 30
- 6:39 to play in the first half. Utah is all about speeding things up right now, but it wouldn’t be a bad thing to take four minutes off the clock and get a Louie Sakoda field goal.
- It’s 21-to-fricking-3 Utah. Bama has settled down, but this still hasn’t sunk in.
- 3rd and seven and Utah get a huge break with Bama taking a time out as the play-clock was down to three. The Tide had 10 men on the field. This is not the tightest of efforts by Saban’s crew.
- The Bama corners are starting to adjust. Finally, the Tide athleticism is showing up.
- This is where Sakoda has to show why he’s such a punting weapon …
- … and instead, Javier Arenas brings Bama right back with a brilliant punt return for a touchdown to get his team into the game. Utah missed several tackles on the 73-yard return for a score.
- Game on.

Utah 21 … Alabama 10

Utah on its own 26
- 5:21 to play in the first half and the offense is fizzling a bit. Now is when Utah has to act like the veteran team it is.
- Rashad Johnson is having a rough first half. He’s not bringing his normal pop.
- I’ll shut up now. Matt Asiata rumbles for a big gain, but Johnson comes up with a huge hit to force a fumble. And that’ll be all for the rest of the half for Mr. Asiata.
- Utah appears to be a bit rattled while Alabama appears to be hopping around with a bit more spunk.
- 2nd and 11. 3:40 to play. Utah is running out the clock, or trying to, and it appears to have killed the groove.
- Ooooh. 4th and 1 on the Alabama side of the field, two minutes to play, yeah you go for it. If you’re Utah, you make a statement to try to keep this going. Only 15 more yards are needed to give Sakoda a shot.
- And Utah screws it up by getting cute with a weird formation and a gimmick and it got nailed for a false start. Now the punting team is coming out.

Alabama on its own 14
- Utah is getting the ball to start the second half, so you have to try to do something if you’re Bama.
- Utah is playing the prevent and Julio Jones is taking advantage. There’s less than a minute to go.
- JPW is getting time to let Jones run his long routes. Utah isn’t getting close.
- And then it gets close. JPW is forced out of the pocket and comes close to making something happen, but there are only :37 to play.
- HOLD!!! Bama OT Drew Davis tackled Paul Kruger and JPW came up with a dumb pass that should’ve been picked.
- The hold is called.
- :27 left …
- Dump off pass. Bama is on the Utah side of the field with time to try for one big pass to set up a field goal.
- Utah gets a pass rush, JPW is sacked, and the half might end with a whimper.
- Bama settled down, but it’ll need to come up with a three-and-out to start the second half to really get back in this.
- How good is TCU?

First Half Score: Utah 21 … Alabama 10

Third Quarter

Utah on its own 45
- You’ve got to love Fox. No one does a better job of playing the Spot The Big Boobs In The Stands game than the Fox producers.
- Utah has to come out sharp, and it isn’t. A false start on the first play shows just how antsy the team is to get this going. It can’t try to get 21 more points on one drive.
- Wasn’t that a forward pass?  …. Nope. Johnson gets the ball knocked out of his hand, it’s an open hand coming forward, that’s a fumble, that’s a recovery by Bobby Greenwood, and this is the ultimate disaster Utah just :14 into the second half.

Alabama on the Utah 30
- Alright Utah D. Time to show that you can play. Really play.
- Alabama, don’t make the same mistake Utah just made. Take a breath, run Coffee and get the ground game going.
- After the way the first half went, the Utah defensive front should be fresh.
- 3rd and three … roll out JPW and let him make a play.
- Instead, Coffee rips off a diving three-yard run for a first down.
- NOW is when you go to Jones into the end zone and see if he can make a play.
- Close. JPW goes to Jones to the three on a fade-stop that just barely misses.
- Nick Walker finds a soft spot in the middle of the Utes, inexplicably, and JPW makes the smart throw for the first down.
- Now you run it from the seven.
- I know Coffee is the all-star, but I’m more of a fan of Ingram right here. He showed in the first half just how effective he can be.
- 2nd and goal, Wilson has yet to roll out on …
- … Wilson rolls out, finds Coffee, touchdown.
- Bama took Utah’s best punch and it’s not just standing, but it’s hitting with some big haymakers of its own now.

Utah 21 … Alabama 17

Utah on its own 30
- Thank you, Kenny Albert, thank you. He described the scoring, and said that Alabama scored 17 (pause) straight points. In the heat of the game, most announcers would blow it by saying Bama scored 17 unanswered points.
- Now the shoe is on the other foot. Utah has to settle down and that means getting Asiata and the ground game untracked.
- Freddie Brown makes yet another great play thanks to missed tackles by the Bama secondary, and who makes the stop? A hustling Bobby Greenwood, who’s having a huge day.
- So much for the running game. Utah is going to win or lose on Johnson’s arm.
- There doesn’t appear to be anywhere near the same bounce in the Utah step. The timing is a big off, the linemen aren’t hustling up as quickly, and there isn’t the same up-tempo action.
- And Johnson makes up for it by making a terrific read and a great throw to Bradon Godfrey for a first down.
- Chip … chip … chip … Utah is chipping away and it’s working, even though Alabama is starting to get a little bit of pressure.
- Again, Utah isn’t as crisp. A delay of game penalty is inexcusable for a team with this type of offense.
- Crisp, schmisp. Johnson throws a dart that came this close to being picked off, Kareem Jackson, instead, misses the tackle, and David Reed pulls away for a touchdown. That’s how you answer a momentum shift.
- Alabama is getting outcoached and outplayed.
- Fine, I’ll be the one to say it. Not since the volleyball scene in Top Gun has there been anything on a screen as straight-up gay as the ads for the all-new Dodge RAM.

Utah 28 … Alabama 17

Alabama on its own 29
- Javier Arenas is having a great game. Bama is starting every drive around its 30.
- There we go, Bama. FINALLY, the running game starts to test the smallish middle of the Utah defensive front. Don’t stop this.
- Bama goes back to the passing game and JPW is gets sacked by Kruger.
- Bama’s strength in this game: Big offensive line vs. smallish, quick Utah defensive line. So what does Bama do? It goes finesse and the window of opportunity to power over this defensive front is slamming shut.
- However, when Bama’s physical players are getting a head of steam, the power comes through. Coffee was able to catch a pass in space and batter his way to a first down.
-  Bama can’t keep playing with fire. There are too many third and longs.
- I HATE … H … A … T … E this call. Nikita Stover and Bryce McCain were battling down the sidelines with the ball in the air, and Stover was shoving off McCain to create the contact. Pass interference on McCain. No one has ever given me a satisfactory explanation as to why this shouldn’t be a reviewable call.
 - Kenny and Moose Johnston are talking about JPW’s mom. C’mon, Fox, you need to know your stuff here. Show everyone the beauty queen. Not to go all pervy (I know, too late) but duuuuude, your mom …
- Coffee is on the sideline hurt. Ingram isn’t a bad backup plan.
- Again, third and long …
- Short. Another long field goal attempt for Tiffin …
- Miss. Bama just can’t get it going. There’s no one to blame but itself by refusing to use the power ground game.

Utah on its own 31
- Utah’s play-calling is running circles around Bama’s defensive scheme. Everything is clicking because the back seven appears to be confused, and then when there are chances to make plays, there are too many missed tackles.
- Any time Bama decides to get a hand on Brian Johnson would be just fine with the Tide fans.
- Finally, Bama starts to get a little pressure, Utah is out of sync, and finally, Bama forces another punt.
- Louie Sakoda is one of the best all-around kickers in the nation, and he has yet to show it.

Alabama on its own 20
- Again, Bama simply refuses to try to wear down the Utah defensive front. Ingram was so effective on that one drive in the first half, and Bama has forgotten about him.
- Pass interference on McCain. This one is legitimate. He was pulling on the jersey.
- Coffee is still out.
- See, here’s what I don’t get. Finally, Bama does try to get to the undersized Utah defensive front, and the call is a delay which feeds into the Ute quickness up front. It makes absolutely no sense.
- Utah survived the backlash.

Third Quarter Score: Utah 28 … Alabama 17

Fourth Quarter

- 3rd and three, and Kruger rips through to force another sack into the arms of Stevenson Sylvester.

Utah on its own 1
- GREAT punt. Now Bama has to take advantage of this and come up with the big defensive play to tilt the field to its side. The fourth quarter has to be played on its side of the field.
- This should be where Utah uses its power ground game to get free, but it’s almost as if Asiata isn’t getting any work because of that first half fumble.
- And then Asiata gets the ball and does nothing.
- 3rd and nine. Johnson is so smart and so good that Utah should run its normal offense and go for the first down instead of just trying to get some breathing room.
- Brown and Johnson hook up on a brilliant route and Marquis Johnson doesn’t read it correctly.
- 12 minutes to go and it now really and truly seems like Utah is going to win this thing. Bama isn’t showing anything on either side of the ball to show that it can outplay this team.
- 3rd and three and Bama is bringing it.
- Finally, the secondary does its job. Everything was covered and there was a bit of a pass rush.
- Sakoda is averaging 43.8 yards per boot, but Arenas is having the far better game …
- … and then Sakoda hits a line drive that Arenas can’t control and has to let roll. Let’s just say Mr. Saban isn’t pleased.

Alabama on its own 17
- Bama is only down 11. It is now proven that the Tide isn’t able to handle the Utah pass rush, yet the coaching staff isn’t adjusting its play-calling. Wilson has to rush every single throw and is getting popped on every play.
- 3rd and three. Wilson ALMOST gets picked off for what would’ve been a score by Mike Wright. JPW HAS to read that better, and the coaching staff has to be calling better, smarter plays.
- I’m sorry to keep harping on this, but this is not a strong day from the Bama coaches.
- Ooooooh. Bama almost pushed a Utah player into a rolling punt. The official is definitively saying it didn’t hit the Ute, but I want to see that again.

Utah on its own 40
- That sound you hear is the air about to be taken out of the ball and the clock, but Utah has to keep pressing. It’s one touchdown away from ending this, and one field goal away from making it close to over.
- It did hit the Utah player, but the rule is that he was blocked into it.
- 9:17 to play and Utah has run two plays for 15 yards. This is no fluke in any way, shape, or form. Utah is simply beating up Bama on both sides of the line. Utah, for 50 minutes, has been the far better team.
- The Bama coaches are going to vomit when they watch tapes of this game and see how the defense failed to tackle.
- Utah continues to mix it up and everything is working. Everything.
- Seven minutes to play.
- The one thing, besides a turnover, that Utah can’t afford is a big penalty, and it just got tagged with one to negate a big play. 2nd and 19 …
- But Johnson gets ten of it back with one throw. If Saban had something tasteful nearby to break, he’d do it. He looks disgusted.
- Six minutes to play.
- Donta Hightower gets to Johnson, forces an intentional grounding call, and now Utah has to punt.
- I keep saying this, but you had to have seen Sakoda’s great career. He’s an elite kicker who needs to come up with a brilliant boot.
- Running into the returner. 5:46 to go and Bama needs two scores; it just got a nice 15 yard helper to start the drive.

Alabama on its own 31
- Continuing to harp, because Bama didn’t try to pound early, the Utah defensive front is nice and fresh, or at least it’s not worn down, and it’s still getting a big push …
- … and the Utes come up with their seventh sack, forced a fumble, and Stevenson recovers the ball and the defensive MVP honor.
- JPW isn’t picking up anything.

Utah on the Alabama 43
- Apparently the Andre Smith loss really did matter, but Utah has been bringing pressure from all angles.
- 13-0 … and not to dog Boise State, but this really does have a different feel than the 2007 Fiesta Bowl. This has been wire-to-wire dominant.
- Talk about ruining the SEC’s bowl season. Just when it seemed like the league was about to puff its chest out with LSU, Georgia, and Ole Miss coming up big, Bama comes out and does this … or has this done to them.
- Beautiful. Just to add a little F You to the Tide, Utah goes to the trick play hook-and-lateral on a third and six, there’s the frustration penalty from the Tide, and now it’s really over.
- Fewer than four minutes to play and Utah is going to the Wildcat and letting Asiata run it. At this point, Utah, go for it. You can run out the clock and end it, or you can score once more and really make a huge statement for the little guy. 35-17 would look really, really good.
- Forget it. Utah is just trying to end this.
- No joke, literally. I was just about to write that this is a game Bama would like to forget and Fox did its promo to help fight Alzheimer’s.
- Utah fans in New Orleans after a big win is the equivalent of Tim Tebow being named a Playboy All-American.
- Sakoda on for the field goal. 31-17 looks strong, too.

Utah 31 … Alabama 17

- 2:49 to play and Bama is down 14. One big play to Julio Jones …

Alabama on its own 49
- Am I totally nuts here? With this field position, if Bama can do this really, really quickly …
- … and then Stevenson Sylvester gets his third sack. Drew Davis, thrown into the fire, is having a nightmare of an evening … and so is Andre Smith. Right now, Smith goes from being a Tide hero to one of the main reasons why Bama is going to lose this.
- JPW throws a desperation heave, Robert Johnson picks it off, his knee lands the wrong way, and I’m having cold sweats and shivers with the knot in my gut remembering the pain of blowing out my right knee twice. It’ll take me ten minutes to get it back.

Utah on its own 9
- Utah takes a knee to complete the impressive performance that’ll be the game the non-BCSers will rant about for a long, long time.

Final Score: Utah 31 … Alabama 17