What went right:
Jordan Wynn shook off early rust and looked much better than he did in 2011
The young linebackers were solid against both the run and pass
The tight end passing game was fantastic
The defensive line was everything it was billed to be
The offense proved that it has a lot of weapons, almost more than it can use in a game
The pass blocking was excellent
Sean Sellwood is as good as they come
What went wrong:
Wynn's long ball was a mess and needs to improve as the competition level increases
Placekicking needs a ton of work
Offensive line run blocking was sub-par
Multiple interception chances were dropped by the secondary
Looking back now I guess I may have set my expectations a little too high. Utah did very little wrong in this game, so why did I leave the stadium with a sour taste in my mouth? I kept kicking myself as I walked back to my car thinking "how can you complain about a 41-0 win?" yet I couldn't help but feel a little disappointed. Now, after going over the stats and really thinking things over I finally think I know why.
Northern Colorado is not good. They're not. They finished the game with just 114 offensive yards and didn't cross midfield once. But I expected this as I studied up on the Bears and prepared to write my game preview earlier this week. Yet after the game and after that stellar defensive performance I still felt a little dissatisfied. I guess in my mind I expected a shut-out or close to it (I predicted 48-6) but I also hoped to see a little more ‘flash' from this highly-touted D. The flash wasn't there, but the stats definitely were, and that's what I overlooked as I walked out of the stadium last night.
Utah held Northern Colorado to 1.5 yards per rush attempt, 3.0 yards per pass attempt, and just 7 first downs throughout the game. They returned an interception for a score and, again, didn't allow the opposition to cross midfield all game long. They controlled the game from the defensive side of the ball rather than offensive. So where's the ‘flash'? It's in the numbers, not in the highlight reel.
Offensively I expected similar. Utah put 41 points up on the scoreboard and was never in a position of losing this game; but they didn't score in the first quarter, and this bothered me. They didn't have a pass completion longer than about 10 or 15 yards through the air. They didn't have a long, breakaway touchdown run. They didn't score with the ease and simplicity that I walked into Rice-Eccles Stadium expecting to see, and this really bothered me.
Then I went home, took a step back, and realized that last night's offense was special too.
We saw the future of the program at the quarterback position score not one but two touchdowns. We saw Jake Murphy emerge as an extremely dangerous playmaker and an elite player on this team. We saw Jordan Wynn throw for 200 yards, complete over 70% of his passes, toss 2 touchdowns, and lead the Utes on multiple scoring drives – all after not playing in a live game since last October. We saw John White return to form as he rushed for 121 yards through just three quarters averaging over 5 yards per carry. But the ‘flash' wasn't there on the ground or in the air, and this bothered me.
But after taking a day to soak it all in and realize what happened last night, what REALLY happened last night, I now can say that 41-0 was impressive. Not often does your quarterback hit for 70%, your defense hold the opponent to less than 120 total yards, your running back scamper for over 120, and a 6'7" 280-pound defensive end return an interception for a score and you can legitimately say there is room for significant improvement.
This Utah team is good and they showed it last night. They didn't show it with a big play or a SportsCenter highlight; they showed it with a dominance so quiet that if you weren't looking for it – if you were looking for something that wasn't there – you didn't see it. I didn't see it last night, but I see it now. You build a champ one step at a time and last night Utah took their first step – it just took me a little time to realize it.
Game Review: Northern Colorado at Utah
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