I am tempted to give the QBs an A-, but with only 2 offensive touchdowns, and a long period of time where the offense stalled out I can't do it. Jon Hays started his first game since December, and came into the game with more than his fair share of critics. He silenced them, or at least should have. Hays came into his first start of the season, the Holy War, throwing punches. He was tough, he was gritty, and he threw a good ball too. The stat line was solid, but not gaudy, though it could have been, Hays received very little help from his receivers. Dres Anderson dropped a perfect 55 yard bomb from Jon that probably would have ended up in a touchdown. Anderson dropped a second pass from Hays on 3rd and long that would have been good for a first down. With that being said Hays was effective in the passing game, connecting with Westlee Tonga and Dres Anderson on touchdown passes that were on point. Hays looked mobile, escaping a few sacks and moving out of the pocket to make plays, but Jon also showed he isn't scared to stay in the pocket to make a play even if he is going to take a hit. Travis Wilson was a non-factor, Jon Hays clearly showed he is the QB that puts Utah in the best position to win the game.
Running Backs D+
John White IV was ruled out of the game during pre-game warm-ups. Utes fans everywhere had anxiety flare up upon that discovery. Jarrell Oliver was given that start and wasn't able to do much with it. On 11 carries Oliver ran for 24 yards, with a long of only 4 yards. Oliver hit the hole a few times with explosion, but was never able to get to the second level. Kelvin York had 4 carries for 7 yards. York was shaken up in the 1st half, but returned at the end of the game. He had a good looking 8 yard carry when Utah was attempting to run out the clock with under 2 minutes left, but on the very next play York ended up running backwards for a loss of yards. Lucky Radley probably had the best game of the trio with 9 carries for 22 yards. Radley was shifty on a few runs gaining decent yardage, but he also missed a few holes due to his tendency to dance to the outside. Radley's longest carry of the game went for 9 yards, and it looked like he could have been gone when he initially found the edge. This unit could have benefited from better running blocking, but with that being said they produced little to no spark, and Jon Hays' 11 yard scramble was the best run the Utes had all game, not acceptable.
Wide Receivers B-
The good, the bad, and the ugly were on display by the receivers much like the first two games of the season. Reggie Dunn was by far the best WR against BYU, catching 6 balls for 56 yards. Dres Anderson displayed some good and some flat-out ugly football on Saturday night. Dres dropped two perfect balls thrown by Jon Hays, both of which came at crucial points in the game. Dres redeemed himself with a great touchdown grab on a 39 yard ball from Hays. The BYU defender interferred with Dres on the play, but Anderson was able to hang on for 6. He finished with 2 catches for 53 yards. Devonte Christopher had one nice catch for 14 yards, but that was it. Luke Matthews had one catch as well, good for 6 yards. Kenneth Scott who looked unstoppable against Utah State didn't catch a single ball against BYU. This unit is far too talented to play so inconsistent, as they have through the first quarter of the season. They will need to step it up in Pac12 play.
Tight Ends and H-Backs A-
I was going to give this unit a B+ and then I re-watched Westlee Tonga's 17 yard TD, and Max Moala going airborne for 19 highly entertaining yards and bumped this group to an A-. Along with Moala and Tonga, Karl Williams, Jake Murphy, David Rolf, and Dallin Rogers all caught passes. These guys stepped up as Hays' safety valve the entire night and did a good job. Westlee Tonga's one-handed touchdown snag will be one of the top plays of the season, and to do it against Kyle Van Noy makes it a little more impressive. I still believe these guys are being underutilized, but it was a solid showing all around.
Offensive Line C
For the third straight week the O-Line was shifted around, and I believe this week's unit will be the group used by Utah moving forward. Cederick Jeremiah Poutasi (CJ) made his first career start as a true freshman and held his own. He graded out at over 80, which is solid against BYU as a true freshman. Sam Brenner started at the other tackle spot and was solid as usual. The interior line didn't get much of a push in terms of the running game, and Utah ended up with 49 total rushing yards, which is pathetic. The pass blocking was decent, though Hays was thrown around some; including being sacked 4 times. This unit improved from Utah State, but it is still not where it needs to be in order for the Utes to be consistently successful in the Pac12. The penalties were limited by the O Line, I only recall 1 penalty on Vyncent Jones moving early.
Defensive Line A
The Defensive line dominant against BYU. Star Lotulelei played like a man worthy of a lot of NFL hype. He was everywhere. He rushed the pass, he batted passes down, he forced a fumble, ruined BYU's option plays, and he blocked a kick that nearly won the game. Star looked like a man possessed on Saturday night, and continues to be the anchor of the D. Dave Kruger played the BYU game with as much intensity as Star. Kruger's energy was radiating around Rice Eccles and he constantly broke into the back field. Joe Kruger also played a fantastic game. Early on Joe had what should have been an easy safety that turned into a facemask penalty, but other than that Joe played like a savage. Joe and Dave had a combined 10 tackles, 2.5 TFL, and 2 sacks. Nate Fakahafua was active as well, dropping back into pass coverage, rushing off the edge, and keeping contain on the option. Trevor Reilly's night was a lot like Nate Fakahafua's, faking a pass rush and dropping into coverage or the opposite . Viliseni Fauonuku continued to create havoc for the Utes when subbed into the game. Seni made several plays in the back field including a sack. Tenny and Niasi were also subbed in holding their own against BYU's O Line.
The linebackers played a solid game against BYU. They did very little spectacular, but they also made very few mistakes. The DL and DBs had a few personal fouls throughout the roller-coaster Holy War, whereas the Linebackers played a clean game. Boo Andersen started his first career game as a Ute after recovering from a season ending knee injury last year. Boo played smart and hard-nosed football from the first play to the last and adds great depth, leadership, and toughness to this unit. L.T. Filiaga also made his first career start and also played well. LT had 6 tackles and forced a fumble. He blew up a few running plays before they had a chance to get started making it an extremely difficult task to lead block for Michael Alisa. Dave Fagergren put in another solid performance, making a few big sticks in key situations. Fagergren did miss a few tackles, but nothing that turned into a big play by BYU. Jacoby Hale moved back to Linebacker in Saturday's game making a few nice plays on blitzes in the 2nd half. V.J. Fehoko dropped an interception that he needs to come away with. Other than that VJ was relatively quiet, and has yet to have his breakout game.
Cornerbacks and Safeties B+
I was tempted to give this group an A or A-, but all the personal fouls they were flagged for, the dropped interception by Topps, and Moe Lee allowing the late conversion on 4th and 12 earns them a B+. Ryan Lacy, Moe Lee, Reggie Topps, Quade Chappuis, and Tyron Morris-Edwards all played really good football for the majority of the game. Lacy had a key interception that led to Coleman Petersen's 48 yard field goal midway through the 3rd quarter. Tyron Morris-Edwards looked impressive in his first career start. He led the team in tackles (tied with Topps) and made a few good plays breaking up passes as well. Reggie Topps had 8 tackles and a critical sack late in the 4th quarter, but he also received a personal foul on Ryan Lacy's interception. Moe Lee scooped up a fumble and returned it 47 yards to the house, this was on a drive where BYU had picked up four 1st downs and were moving into Utah territory. Quade Chappuis made a couple big hits in the secondary including one that received a personal foul. Moe Lee also received a personal foul right after Quade's. While emotions were high the whole game, the secondary needs to stay focused and not give opponents free chunks of yards like they did Saturday night.
Special Teams C
Even with the Pac12 Special Teams Player of the Week, the Utes only a C for their performance against BYU. Tom Hackett and Charles Henderson each received A's for the effort they gave against BYU, but from there everything was mediocre to horrendous. Coleman Petersen had his first field goal attempt of the night blocked from 37 yards out. Impressively, Coleman was able to put it behind him and drill a 48 yard field goal in the 3rd quarter. The Utes kickoff returns were below average, DeVonte Christopher had one return for 15 yards and Charles Henderson had one return for 18 yards. The Utes kickoff coverage was decent on the whole, but late in the game Mike Hague ripped off a 32 yard return against the Utes breaking several poor tackles. Thretton Palamo also received a personal foul on a kickoff that was a touchback, giving BYU the ball at the 40 to start, doesn't get much dumber than that. Sean Sellwood had a rough game, shanking a few punts giving BYU the ball with great field position, and failing to get a punt off resulting in BYU swarming him for an easy turnover on downs. The Utes also had a breakdown in punt coverage allowing J.D. Falslev to break off a 34 yard return, it occured on Sellwood's best punt of the day. The Utes failed to break down and missed several tackles that need to be made. Charles Henderson had two good punt returns on the day, including a 57 yard return that nearly went for 6.
Overall, I would give Coach Whittingham and Coach Sitake an A- for the energy and defensive game-plan instilled against BYU. Brian Johnson did a solid job with the offense. No John White IV, first week without Wynn after spending the whole offseason prepping for him, and an O Line that is still figuring it out... BJ did alright in my book. Coach Jay Hill gets an F for special teams and the running backs. Special teams are supposed to be a staple of the Utah Utes and this year it seems more like an achilles heel. Coach Dan Finn has been mixing and matching his O Line and it seems like maybe he has something that he can work with, but 49 yards on the ground does not warrant a high grade for Finn. Coach Shah, Sitake, and Whittingham need to work on discipline, too many personal fouls by the D, especially the DBs. I loved the call to fake the punt early in the game, snapping it to Jake Murphy as the up-back would pick up that first down 9 out of 10 times. Coach Whittingham showed a lot of guts on that call.
Position Grades in the Holy War
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