Position Grades - Utah at UCLA

The Utes lost a close one to the Bruins. Here is how each position group graded out

Quarterbacks - C+

It's becoming clear that newly-promoted starter Travis Wilson has the tools necessary to be a quality starting quarterback in the Pac-12. At times on Saturday those tools were put on display, just enough to tease Ute fans into believing they've got something really special. Sadly those times were few and far between as the Ute offense failed to mount a scoring drive until the waning minutes of the game. Wilson made some great throws during the game but looked for the most part like a true freshman starting the first game of his career - his interception thrown into double-coverage in the first quarter made that very clear. He'll get better, and he showed a lot of promise, but you can't go 57 minutes without scoring an offensive point and expect to win.

Running Backs - B+

For the second straight week the Ute running back duo of John White IV and Kelvin York has blasted opponents for chunk yardage time after time. Sadly the two were limited in their attempts due to play-calling that favored the passing game despite a combined rush average of 4.13 yards per carry. Kelvin York looked like a beast and really seems to be hitting his stride at this point in the year. His 4 carries may be the biggest injustice of the ball game. John White picked up 44 yards on 11 carries and looked very good doing it. His injury seems to be a thing of the past. His and York's carries need to increase in a hurry if the Ute offense wants to become dangerous once again.

Wide Receivers - B

Travis Wilson completed 33 passes for 213 yards, both are numbers that previous starter Jon Hays never hit in his 12 games leading the Ute offense. The wide receivers were once again a part of the offense; their absence one of the biggest complaints of fans over the past few weeks. The wideouts combined for 19 receptions, 153 yards, and 1 touchdown all of which are numbers this offense hasn't produced in many weeks. Despite all of the good they did, they fell short in one important area – they didn't make enough big plays.

Tight Ends and H Backs - C+

Jake Murphy was great in the passing game catching 4 passes for 65 yards. David Rolf? Non-existent. Rolf failed to catch a pass and was called for holding once after Utah crossed into UCLA territory. The drive ended in a failed 4th down conversion. The blocking from the tight ends was more of the same, which is to say it was less than stellar at times and still needs to improve, especially if Utah's freshman quarterback if going to have the time he needs to make reads this upcoming weekend against a very good Oregon State pass rush.

Offensive Line - B+

Utah's offense line played perhaps its best game of the season. Travis Wilson was sacked only two times and the Ute running backs were gashing UCLA on the ground when they were given opportunities. Miles Mason was caught holding once but outside of that there were no other penalties committed by the line. After back to back starts with the same starting five it looks like this group may be coming together a bit as evidenced by the improved running game, increased pass blocking, and fewer penalties.

Defensive Line - C

Utah toyed with a 3-4/3-3-5 defense last week against USC and that scheme carried over to this weekend. The Utes started Joe Kruger, Star Lotulelei, and Nate Fakahafua as their three down linemen and after a few early UCLA adjustments they were dominated in the run game. Star was once again Star which meant he commanded a double and triple team throughout the entire second half. When he was taken out of the play the Bruins had a lot of room to run up the middle gashing the Utes for big gains when Utah most needed to get stops. Around the edges the Utes lost contain on multiple plays which allowed UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley to scramble for big yardage often picking up 1st downs on 3rd and long situations.

Linebackers - D

Jacoby Hale showed a lot of improvement this week and may have been the best linebacker Utah had on the field. Hale finished 2nd on the team with 7 total tackles and one TFL. L.T. Filiaga and Reshawn Hooker were good in run support at times and completely out of position at others. Missed tackles were a problem for this group (and others) and speed was a glaring issue at times as well. Trevor Reilly may have had his worst game in a long while finishing with just 3 tackles and no tackles for loss. All in all Hundley's scrambling, the big runs late in the game, and the open tight ends were devastating and killed any hope of a late-game rally.

Corners - B+

Outside of the big catch-and-run touchdown in the first quarter the Ute corners played a great game. Hundley's scrambles were often a result of great downfield coverage. Only 7 of Hundley's 21 passes were caught by the wide receivers totaling just 117 yards – 64 on one play. Ryan Lacy played a fantastic game making tackles and shutting down his side of the field. This group has improved after a rough patch against Arizona State and the play of Reggie Topps lately has given the Utes a solid third corner.

Safeties - B-

Despite the missed tackles (from everyone, not just the safeties) and Eric Rowe's blown coverage on UCLA's big touchdown pass the Ute safeties did their jobs by keeping everything in front of them and not allowing the Bruins to beat them deep. The tight ends were open way too much, but that is on both Blechen and the linebackers and needs to be cleaned up in a hurry. Utah's 3-3-5 added a 5th DB to the mix (Tyron Morris-Edwards) and he performed well with 4 tackles and a TFL. This group didn't do anything spectacular, but outside of the one big play they also didn't give up too much either.

Special Teams - A

The special teams unit was much improved this week over what we've seen in the past. There were no field goal attempts for the Utes in the game and no punts blocked so we don't have any missed opportunities there to complain about. Sean Sellwood was fantastic as usual booming kicks all game long. His 65 yard bomb in the first quarter was kicked so far the UCLA return man had to retreat nearly 20 yards to catch it. When he dropped the ball the Utes were able to recover the kick for a touchdown. Sellwood's average on the day was 54.3 yards per punt which is spectacular.

Coaching - C

How much of Saturday's offensive woes you place on Travis Wilson and how much you place on the coaches will determine your own personal grade in this area. Personally I feel like the coaches held back too much with Wilson when they should have been ready to ‘remove the training wheels' so to speak. Too many play calls looked like they were trying to baby the young starter and it wasn't until the final drive of the game with less than 5 minutes left before the offense really opened up and Wilson was allowed to be himself. The defense wasn't properly prepared for the UCLA offense either. Hundley's scrambles on 3rd and long time after time were enough to make every Ute fan want to bang their head against a wall. All in all I think this was a game that got away and I put the missed opportunity more on the coaches than I do on the players.

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