While Hays did not pass for 300+ yards, he did exactly what the coaching staff asked him to do. Jon Hays went 12-21 (57%) in the passing game on Saturday, with 2 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. Hays' 9.5 yards per attempt was a season high. Hays should have had another touchdown throw in the first quarter, but the perfectly placed pass was dropped by Devonte Christopher.
Running Back: A
Once again, John White IV was awesome for the Utes. Facing stacked boxes, White managed to accumulate 114 rushing yards on 27 carries (4.0 per carry), reaching pay dirt twice. White also continues to improve in blitz pickups, and had a couple of big time blocks. At fullback, Shawn Asiata had his best game of the season, blasting opponents over and over and over. Asiata was a force that made John White's job much easier all night. Asiata also caught 3 passes for 21 yards.
Wide Receiver: B
DeVonte Christopher made a world of difference in the Utah passing game. Christopher beat Arizona far more often than his 3 receptions lead many to believe. Still, Christopher brought the big play threat that Utah needed, and finished with 79 receiving yards and a touchdown. Christopher dropped another touchdown after running a nice route down the field. Reggie Dunn had one of his best receiving games for the Utes, showing signs of becoming the deep threat the Utes hope he can become. Dunn finished with 3 receptions for 64 yards and a touchdown. Kenneth Scott also made a couple of nice plays for the utes.
Tight End: C
Ever since Dallin Rogers' season ending injury, Utah's tight ends have been quiet. Kendrick Moeai got the start, and Jake Murphy also saw a lot of time. Though Moeai and Murphy haven't been as involved in the passing game as many expected, they have been effective blockers in the run game.
Offensive Line: A
One of the better games for the Utes' offensive line. This group clearly feels most comfortable as a run blocking team, and despite facing 8 men in the box on Saturday, this group was still very physical. While Arizona is not a strong pass rush team, Utah should feel very good about only giving up 1 sack on the night, and giving Hays plenty of time to find open receivers down the field…something that has not happened at times this season. Utah finished with 152 yards rushing on the night, thanks to the performance of the offensive line. On the grades front, John Cullen had his best grade of the year, winning 90% of battles. Tony Bergstrom also had a great night, winning 86% of plays. Brenner, Mason and Stevens all finished with a respectable 83%.
Defensive Line: B-
Arizona entered Saturday's matchup as one of the worst rushing teams in the PAC-12, opting to pass far more than run. Arizona took advantage of the neglect by catching the Utes off guard on many occasions, rushing for a total of 131 yards in 32 attempts (4.1 per game). Joe Kruger led the defensive line in tackles with 5. Derrick Shelby had a TFL, and Nai Fotu had a sack.
Matt Martinez had his best game as a Ute, finishing with 8 tackles (most on the team), 0.5 TFLs, and picking up a game changing interception. Chaz Walker had 7 tackles and 0.5 TFLs, and Trevor Reilly finished with 5 tackles. The trio topped the Ute defense in tackles, exactly as Kalani Sitake would like.
The task was tall, but Utah's secondary did as good of a job as any team has this season in defending Nick Foles and the Arizona passing attack. Foles looked visibly flustered most of the game. The Utes did a good job of showing different coverages, and stiffening in their own territory. Mo Lee, Ryan Lacy, and Conroy Black all recorded pass break-ups. Conroy Black had a HUGE interception in the end zone which he nearly returned to the house. Reggie Topps also recorded 2 TFLs and a sack.
This wasn't the finest game we've seen from Eric Rowe and Brian Blechen as a duo. Eric Rowe had good moments flying around down the field, and finished with a Pass Break-Up (that could have been intercepted) and a Fumble Recovery. The safeties did get lost a couple of times, which Foles capitalized on.
Special Teams: A-
Utah's special teams continue to be a baffling group. On Saturday, this group had a huge positive impact on the game. Greg Bird had possibly the best single game performance I've ever seen from a Special Teams player that wasn't a returner. Bird blocked 2 punts, and downed 2 punts inside the 20. A phenomenal special teams performance for Bird. Punter Sean Sellwood had an exceptional game punting. Sellwood punted 4 times for an average of 50.5 yards per punt, with a long of 67. In the return game, Reggie Dunn gave the Utes excellent field position all night. Dunn finished with 83 return yards, with a long of 47. Griff McNabb made a good decision to pick up a rolling punt, which he returned for 14 yards. The downside for Utah's special teams came on the opening kickoff, where they nearly allowed Arizona to return a punt reverse for a touchdown. Thanks to slick surfaces, the returner fell harmlessly to the ground near midfield. Also a problem on Saturday was place kicker Coleman Peterson, who made only 2/4 attempts, missing 2 kicks that were makeable. Peterson's misses this week kept hope alive for Arizona, and could have cost Utah the game had Conroy Black not made the interception in the end zone. Still, Peterson gets a pass for the misses due to the fact that he didn't miss a field goal during the middle third of the season.
Utah at Arizona - Position Grades
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