Jordan Wynn made his triumphant return from a thumb injury, but was mostly cast aside as the Utah running game and special teams were the story in the Utes' 56-3 pasting of San Jose State.
The Utes opened things on their first play from scrimmage with a little bit of trickery as Eddie Wide took a hand-off from Jordan Wynn, and flipped it to Reggie Dunn who raced 43 yards down the sidelines untouched for the first points of the game. San Jose State looked outclassed and demoralized less than 3 minutes into the game.
Eddie Wide and Matt Asiata were much improved this week, especially Wide. They hit the holes harder and faster than in weeks past and could have each gone for over 100 yards had they played the whole game. Neither had the long game breaking run that I've been clamoring for, but both had opportunities to do so and were tripped up at the last second by a defender. Going forward, the coaches have to be much more confident in the ability to break off a long run by their two superstar running backs with the way they ran against San Jose State. Tauni Vakapuna is making a strong case to be the starter next year at running back.
Wynn wasn't at a full strength yet as evidence by his short throws for most of the game. The offensive line kept him clean and healthy, but he did most of his damage on short five step drops with quick throws instead of dropping seven steps, going through his reads and throwing one deep. The game plan can be attributed to keeping Wynn off of the ground as he wasn't hit one all game.
By the end of the second quarter, with the game well in hand, I expected Wynn and the Utes to take more shots down the field. There was a nice throw to Dallin Rogers for a touchdown, but not opening up the offense to try a few new things once the outcome was determined to try a few new things out was a bit surprising.
The defense has turned into a wall. If not for a long kickoff return that setup a field goal, San Jose State likely wouldn't have scored a single point all night. Only 61 total yards in the first half for Spartans is tremendous, and they would have been held under 150 for the game if the starters didn't come out so early. The defensive line was dominant again in stopping the rush and the linebackers, particularly Matt Martinez, were plugging every hole instantly. Every time that a Spartan runner made it more than 3 yards past the line of scrimmage, he was met with a giant wall of about 4 players, that would eventually include 8-9 players in a gang tackle. Every single defender makes a move to the ball and helps. That's the sign of not just a good defense, but a great defense. This is shaping up to be a great defense that is only going to get better once J.J. Williams comes back and Derrick Shelby is fully healthy. Shelby looked much better this week and had his best game of the season.
I'm going to say it now and stand by it until I see differently. Brandon Burton is an All American and the best corner in the conference. You never hear his name because they don't throw at him. He locks down his receiver as well as anyone out there. Lamar Chapman continues to make his case as an All Conference player. The Utes may have the best cornerback duo in the Mountain West. Not what most of us would have guessed going into fall camp.
Special teams seemed to be on the up and up as the Utes had what is technically a kick return for a touchdown after the San Jose State punter (who is also their starting quarterback) rolled out for a rugby style kick and kicked it off of the arm of one of his blockers in front of him. Reggie Topps picked it up at the 10 yard line and ran it back for six on a play that you won't likely see ever again. Very Strange. The Utes also partially blocked another kick that setup a touchdown. Sean Sellwood averaged over 50 yards per punt with nice high spiraling kicks and the punt coverage was great all game long with San Jose State unable to return one. He even took a fake punt 17 yards for a first down and lowered his shoulder to run over a defender.
There isn't much to say other than Utah is very good and San Jose State is awful. They're definitely worse than UNLV and could be worse than New Mexico (although that may be a stretch). The talent wasn't there for the Spartans to compete in this game from the start. You couldn't help but feel bad every time one of their players went down with an injury, as it happened all game long.
I don't think I'm going out on a limb when I say that this is one of the top 10 teams in the country. They've eliminated problems that were plaguing them earlier in the season. Great teams and coaching staffs are able to do that. No turnovers, no fumbles, and only one penalty was a giant leap in the right direction. On any given day, they can beat anybody. Alabama, Ohio State, Florida, Boise State, TCU. None of these teams should scare the Utes. Utah is just as explosive, just as well coached, just as experienced, and just as good as any of those teams. Put them on a neutral field and I'd be inclined to take the Utes against each of those teams.
Utes Run Wild On San Jose State
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