Utah at USC- Position Grades

Grading out each position after Utah's PAC-12 opener at USC…

Quarterback: B-
Jordan Wynn threw for 238 yards and 1 TD while completing 50% of his passes. Bottom line, the Jordan Wynn from 2010 is not the same player on the field today. His surgically repaired shoulder will never be the same. This does not mean Wynn cannot be effective, it just means he will have to change his approach to the game. USC was a step in the right direction for Wynn. He looked down the field more often than in week 1, and started to lean on his young and talented wide receiver group. Considering the fact that Wynn faced a heavy pass rush most of the night, and had very little support from the Ute rushing attack. Despite unfavorable odds, he led Utah down the field on what would have been a game tying drive.

Running Back: D+
John White IV carried the ball 20 times for 56 yards (2.8 average) and a TD. White was not entirely to blame for Utah's horrendous rushing attack as the Offensive Line let him down for much of the game. However, there is nobody to blame but White for his first quarter fumble that led to a USC touchdown. Looking back on the game, there may not have been a more pivotal moment. White was average at best in picking up the blitz as well.

Wide Receiver: A-
Devonte Christopher must have taken the criticism from week 1 personally, because he broke out in week 2 in a big way. Christopher led Utah with 11 receptions for 136 yards and a TD. Most impressive was Christopher's effort after the initial play broke down. Opposite Christopher, Ute freshman Dres Anderson had a nice night as well, catching 6 balls for 77 yards. Anderson made several acrobatic catches to keep Utah going. Had Wynn delivered the ball to Anderson in stride, he would have easily broke 100 yards. Luke Matthews also caught 3 passes.

Tight End: D-
Kendrick Moeai and Dallin Rogers combined for 10 receptions in week 1, but combined for only 1 reception in week 2.

Offensive Line: C-
Utah's offensive line was quite poor as a unit. Tony Bergstrom and Sam Brenner had solid nights, as did Center Tevita Stevens. However Left Tackle John Cullen had a very rough season debut for the Utes. Next to Cullen at Guard was Miles Mason, who debuted at Left Tackle in Utah's opener. Mason was not as impressive as in week 1. The unit as a whole lacked cohesiveness, and was equally as poor in pass protection as in run blocking. USC was able to get to Jordan Wynn on a regular basis, forcing throw-aways, off-balance throws, and a few knockdowns. USC had 2 sacks on the night for a combined total of 28 yards lost. USC's defensive line also accounted for 6 batted balls at the line of scrimmage, which is traced back to both the quarterback and the offensive line.

Defensive Line: B-
Coming into Saturday's Pac-12 opener, Utah's defensive line was expected to be the unit most ready for life in the PAC-12. While Star Lotulelei proved disruptive, James Aiono and David Kruger were often pushed out of their assignments. Aiono did not make a tackle against the Trojans, and Dave Kruger made only 1. USC rushed for 152 yards.

Linebackers: B+
Utah's starting linebackers combined for 27 tackles, led by Chaz Walker's 11 tackles. Matt Martinez earned 1 sack, and the group was always around the ball. they struggled at times in pass protection with USC Tight End Xavier Grimble. Grimble had 5 catches for 66 yards and a TD. Brian Blechen was called on to help defend USC's star WR Robert Woods at times, and did an admirable job.

Cornerbacks: B
Ryan Lacy is fast becoming one of the most frequently mentioned names on Utah's defense. At times, he was making terrific defensive plays, including a very nice interception inside Utah territory. At other times, Lacy is being targeted by opposing quarterbacks. For the second straight week, Conroy Black's name was not mentioned very often, which is exactly how he likes it. Black did have a very nice pass deflection on a deep pass. Despite the noble effort by Black and Lacy, USC Quarterback Matt Barkley threw for 264 yards, including 102 to star WR Robert Woods.

Safeties: B-
Eric Rowe and Keith McGill got most of the reps at safety against the Trojans, and were up and down most of the night. McGill still looked lost at times, and Rowe had moments where he looked like the freshman that he is. Both offered some form of run support. McGill finished with 7 tackles and Rowe with 6. Their tackling could have been better at times. Both had moments where they took poor angles to the ball carrier, failed to fulfill assignments, and missed tackles. Both settled in late in the game, and had nice 4th quarters.

Special Teams: D
Utah's special teams are usually reliable, but were far from reliable on Saturday night. Week 1 punter Sean Sellwood was benched in favor of Nick Marsh, who kicked 7 times for an average of 40.9 yards. The biggest play of the night came when Utah had their game tying FG attempt blocked and returned for a USC touchdown to end the game. Utah also gave up a long punt return in the 4th quarter that changed the field position game. The lone bright spot for the Utes was the kickoff coverage. Marsh kicked the ball well, and the coverage unit allowed just an average of 14.5 yards per return.

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