Not much to take from this game as New Mexico is probably the worst FBS team in the nation. They're so bad that they MIGHT be a .500 team in the FCS.
Steady. That's the best way to describe this team. They're as steady, level-headed, and consistent as any team in America. There are 20 teams with more talent, but this is a real team that works together and is building towards something big.
The offense wasn't as good as the 56 points on the scoreboard and the defense was better than the 14 New Mexico put up, with 7 of those coming off of a fumble return for a touchdown when Luke Matthews decided to cough one up.
Terrance Cain set a Utah completion percentage record by going 20-23 for 248 yards and 3 touchdowns. He currently leads the nation in passer rating at a ridiculous number of 204. Cain's performance epitomizes this team; workman-like, efficient, and consistent. The sad part for Terrance is that as soon as Jordan Wynn is healthy, Cain goes back to the bench as the backup. There is no quarterback controversy, so people need not wonder or try to stir things up. Cain has been magnificent, and very well could the start again this week against a poor San Jose State team, but this is Jordan Wynn's team. He's the quarterback. If the Utes want to win a nation title, something that is seemingly within reach, he's the guy that is going to take them there.
The Utes were able to do pretty much anything they wanted against New Mexico, expect run the ball for more than 4 or 5 yards a carry. They finished with misleading 180 yards on 35 carries, but much of that came in garbage time from quarterback Griff Robles and walk-on running back Tauni Vakapuna who accounted for 107 yards between the two of them. The inability of Matt Asiata and Eddie Wide to break a long run has to be somewhat of a concern, especially with the poor defenses they've gone up against the past two weeks. If that continues this week against a San Jose State team that is giving up almost 200 yards a game on the ground, the concern will grow. In defense of the running backs, the downfield blocking has not been great this year by the receivers.
Jereme Brooks is just plain good. 6 more catches for 99 yards and another touchdown. He's on pace for over 1,000 yards receiving and 16 touchdowns. Those sound like fringe All American numbers to me. Only three receivers caught balls. The receiving corp is deep, but unless more guys are making catches, it's somewhat wasted. Nice to see the tight ends used more than in the past two games.
The offensive line gave up a sack. How dare they. The streak is over, but they can start a new one this week against San Jose State. Terrance Cain was rarely pressured and the line was getting a good initial push on running plays. Continuing the blocks downfield and helping spring Wide and Asiata for longer gains needs to be a priority going forward.
The biggest concern offensively has to be the fumbles. Three of them this week for a total of six on the season leaves the Utes at -3 in terms of turnover differential. Not many teams have a negative turnover differential win their conference.
Defensively, this team continues to surprise and amaze. New Mexico's only points came on a fumble returned for a touchdown, and a drive late in the game when mostly backups were in for Utah.
The stars of the game were Lamar Chapman and Matt Martinez. Chapman was everywhere displaying his 4.3 speed with 8 tackles, two of them for losses, and a sack. He's never going to have the shut-down corner skills that Brandon Burton has, but Burton is an elite blitzer from the corner spot and his speed is going to get him a lot of tackles. Martinez had 7 tackles and an interception return for a touchdown. He's all over the field and has been the best linebacker the past two weeks. J.J. Williams could be back this week. If not, he'll be back in a couple of weeks against Iowa State. I wouldn't want to be the coaches who have to decide which of the four linebackers doesn't start.
The run defense was stellar again holding New Mexico to 69 yards on 37 carries. The linebackers are getting to where they need to be and the defensive tackles were disruptive all night. No different than the first two weeks.
The defensive ends did a much better job getting to the quarterback against New Mexico than last week, evidenced by the five sacks, although two were from Lamar Chapman. Derrick Shelby is still the team's premier pass rusher and had he played, the sack numbers could have been even better.
New Mexico picked up most of their receiving yards in the second half against the second and third stringers. Brand Burton and Lamar Chapman did a great job again of shutting down the Lobo receivers and Justin Taplin-Ross and Blechen continue to lay the wood with big hits. There has to be a bit of disappointment that no DBs picked off a pass as there were plenty of opporunities. Burton dropped one early and JTR had an easy pick six that he dropped as well. Maybe this is why these DBs don't play receiver.
Is Shaky Smithson the best return man in the country? After his bad first week, he's broken off two punt returns for touchdowns, and threatened to take back a few more. His 223 yards in returns against New Mexico is a school record and he'll have more chances to break that going forward. The best part about Shaky's returns is he does a lot of them without great blocking. The Utes still need work in that area, and if they can shore it up and improve, Shaky could be taking kicks back on a weekly basis.
Personal fouls aren't hurting now, but they will at Air Force and at Notre Dame. The Utes currently rank last in the conference in penalties yards per game at 78. A good chunk of that can be attributed to the personal fouls.
Quite the ho-hum game from my vantage point. The Utes did what they had to do in defeating an inferior opponent. Shore up the fumbling issue and quit with the dumb penalties and they'll be on their way to 8-0 before TCU comes to town.
Utes Turn the Lights Out on New Mexico
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