Utah vs. Washington - Position Grades

Grading out each position after Utah's Pac-12 home opener vs. Washington…

Quarterback:
Jordan Wynn = A
Jon Hays = C-
For the first time this year, Jordan Wynn looked confident and capable at the helm of Utah's offense. Wynn threw the ball confidently, and completely managed the game. In the first half, Wynn completed 63% of his passes for 149 yards, moving Utah's offense up and down the field against Washington. Utah's two red zone turnovers prevented the Utes from putting up more first half points, but neither mistake was due to Wynn. Wynn's only interception came when Devonte Christopher ran the wrong route.

Coming out of halftime, every fan, player and coach expected Wynn to return and play the second half of the game. It was only moments before the start of the second half that it was discovered that Wynn could not even take snaps from the center his injury was so bad. Enter Jon Hays. With Washington scoring a touchdown on their first possession of the 2nd half, the pressure was on Hays big time. His first pass attempt was on 3rd and long, and was a dump off to John White who ended well short of the first down marker. After another Washington scoring drive, Utah HAD to answer with some points. On the first play of the drive, Hays threw the ball deep (while back pedaling) to a streaking WR…the ball was intercepted, and Washington was well on their way to a victory. Once Hays had a chance to settle down, he started to buy some time with his feet, allowing WRs to get open down the field. Hays finished with decent stats, completing 73% of his passes from that point on, for 150 yards with 1 TD and 1 INT. Hays held the ball too long on some occasions, and abandoned the pocket prematurely.

Running Back: C-
John White entered the Washington game knowing that he was unlikely to have another big yardage day. The Washington secondary had proven vulnerable, and Norm Chow's game plan called for a heavy dose of Jordan Wynn and Utah's WRs. However, when White was called upon, he had to fight and claw for every inch he gained. White finished with 35 yards rushing on 14 carries (2.5 average). White added 2 catches. For a featured RB, the production was abysmal. Not all of the fault should be placed on White however, he ran hard, and generally hit holes. The OLine let him down, and failed to get any pads on Washington's thin LB group.

Wide Receiver: A-
For the second straight conference matchup, Devonte Christopher surpassed 100 yards receiving. Utah's star WR finished with 5 catches for 125 yards (25 yard average). Washington had trouble all night containing Christopher. Opposite of Christopher, Utah's freshman WR Dres Anderson had another solid night, showing excellent speed and strong hands. As a group, Utah's WRs finished with 13 receptions for 224 receiving yards and 1 TD. Utah's WRs played hard all night, and did everything that was asked of them.

Tight End: A-
Norm Chow's Tight End group appears to be gaining confidence from the coaching staff and quarterbacks. With Freshman TE Jake Murphy sidelined with injury, Dallin Rogers has emerged as a go-to player for Utah's offense. Rogers finished the game with 6 receptions for 56 yards and a TD. Rogers particularly seems to excel in 3rd down situations. Westlee Tonga had his first reception of the season to move the chains in the first half.

Offensive Line: C
Utah's Offensive Line lacks cohesiveness, which is not surprising considering each of the first 4 games have featured a different primary group of Offensive Linemen paired together. Against Washington, Sam Brenner played out of position at Tackle, while Latu Heimuli earned his first start of the year at Guard. The most disappointing aspect of this team however is not the rotation, rather it's the disappointing play of Senior Left Tackle John Cullen. Entering the season, Cullen was supposed to be a standout player for the Utes, adding nearly 20 pounds of muscle while still possessing the quickness that earned him the reputation as the top Juco Offensive Tackle in America just 2 years ago. Cullen got abused against USC, bounced back with an average performance against BYU, and was very bad against Washington. Cullen gave up a bad sack in the first half, and continues to make mental mistakes that kill drives. His false start in Washington territory took Utah out of Field Goal position, and out of a manageable 4th and 1 scenario. It will be interesting to see what unit Tim Davis deploys against Arizona State, as the unit may be bolstered by the return of Utah's best Offensive Lineman in Tackle Tony Bergstrom.

Defensive Line: B
Utah's defensive line dominated the trenches in the first half, but ultimately gave way to fatigue in the second half. Star Lotulelei had a tremendous outing, finishing with 6 tackles, including 2.5 TFLs. Both are exceptional numbers for an interior defensive lineman. Derrick Shelby also had a nice night, finishing with 5 tackles and a sack.

Linebackers: B-
Again, a story of two very different halves for the Utes. In the first half, Utah's linebackers flew around the field making plays. Brian Blechen finished with a career high 12 tackles, tying for team lead in tackles with Chaz Walker. Boo Anderson, Matt Martinez, and Trevor Reilly all registered TFLs, and J.J. Williams had an interception. As a group, the Ute linebackers totaled an impressive 46 tackles. However, in the second half the group wore down, perhaps due to their distinct size disadvantage. Washington's tight ends were also able to find open space across the middle of the field and move the chains. Ultimately missed tackles proved too much for Utah's defense to overcome, with the linebackers failing to wrap up and bring down the Huskies powerful running back Chris Polk.

Cornerbacks: B-
There is a continuing trend among Ute opponents this season, they are challenging Utah's young secondary…Ryan Lacy in particular. Lacy is a capable corners, but made some mistakes against Washington when he failed to recognize situation, down and distance. Conroy Black didn't have his best game either. Together however, Utah held Washington's 1000 yard WR Jermaine Kearse to 70 yards receiving…a respectable number, yet not overwhelming. Kearse helped their case with a few drops. Reggie Topps came in as a nickel back, and got a big sack for the Utes.

Safeties: C
Utah's young safeties continued to show signs of potential against the pass. Washington didn't find many opportunities down the field, instead choosing to attack Utah's corners on the short outs, as well as attacking Utah's linebackers. Eric Rowe did some real nice things, and matched up reasonably well against the Huskies athleticism. At Strong Safety, the Utes still have not found someone that they can rely on. Quade Chappuis got his first career start at Strong Safety after his strong performance at BYU. Unfortunately for the walk-on sophomore, he did not play well. Chappuis took some horrible angles on runs, and missed many tackles. For much of the second half, Chappuis was benched in favor of Michael Walker. Walker never really got into rhythm either, crashing hard to provide run support, but didn't seem real comfortable with Washington's offense.

Special Teams: C-
Utah's night started horribly with a fumbled kick return by Ryan Lacy which Washington returned for a touchdown. Lacy was yanked, and Utah's special teams rebounded to a respectable performance. Kicker Coleman Peterson made both of his extra point attempts. Punters Nick Marsh and Sean Sellwood combined for an average of 46 yards, with Marsh's long of 62 yards. Charles Henderson replaced Lacy in kick returns, and had a nice return of 23 yards. On kickoffs, Utah had all touchbacks. Ultimately however, it comes back to the fumbled kickoff return by Ryan Lacy which changed the game.

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