Position Grades: Utah at Oregon State

The Utes won the battle of the stats, but lost the turnover battle

Quarterbacks C

Travis Wilson played like a freshman quarterback making his second collegiate start against a top 10 opponent. Wilson made some costly errors in the first half that put the Utes in a hole they were never able to climb out of. On the first play of the game Travis Wilson underthrew Luke Matthews, who broke free 30 yards down field. The play went for 35 yards after Matthews made a tremendous adjustment to the ball, but that first play could have gone for a touchdown had it been put on the money.
Wilson was also responsible for 3 turnovers in the game, two of which led to easy scores for the Beavers. 16 yards and 10 yards were all the Beavers had to go for their first half touchdowns. Some of the blame can be put on a dropped pass and the O Line collapsing on Wilson, but his pass to DeVonte was not a good one and on the sack/fumble Wilson needed to get rid of the ball and failed. Wilson failed to accomplish much of anything with his feet. He was able to make some impressive throws, hitting Jake Murphy and Kenneth Scott with a few good balls. It is hard to give Wilson a better grade, because of the crushing turnovers, but Wilson also received very little help from the WRs and TEs, too many dropped balls

Running backs B-

The running game was more of an emphasis this week against Oregon State, but the results were similar to the past few weeks. John White received 20 carries and Kelvin York received a season high 10. John White IV had limited success outside of a big 29 yard burst at the end of the 1st half. Oregon State has a tough run defense, but the Wolfman didn't break many tackles and rarely reached the second level. John White was targeted 5 times, dropping 2 passes, including one that was on a critical 3rd down. He did end up with 2 receptions for 24 yards, but those plays are overshadowed by the drops.

Kelvin York continued to with attitude. York averaged over 5 yards a carry, and was rarely brought down by one or even two OSU defenders. Early in the 4th quarter York took over for the Utes with consecutive carries of 5, 10, 9, and 5 yards, yet after the two huge first downs York was pulled and the drive stalled out. Kelvin York was undoubtedly the best running back for the Utes in Corvallis.

Wide Receivers C-

The 35 yard pass to Luke Matthews, who made a great adjustment to reel in the underthrown ball, and Reggie Dunn's 23 yard sweep were the two main highlights from the WRs. Kenneth Scott played a decent game, but he wasn't a game-changer and part of that is on him and part of that is on BJ and Travis Wilson. Anthony Denham received his consistent one pass for one first down. Dres Anderson was a no show, catching the ball zero times after a strong effort against UCLA. That is pretty inexcusable for the Utes and Dres. DeVonte Christopher continued his struggles contributing to the Utes 4 turnovers. DeVonte fumbled a reverse on 1st and goal and was unable to recover it and he also was unable to control a high pass from Travis Wilson in the first quarter that was intercepted off of DeVonte's tip. Several wide receivers dropped passes, including a few that stalled out drives. The weather was not optimal, but is no excuse for dropped balls.

Tight Ends C+

Jake Murphy had an up & down game. He scored the Utes only touchdown and he dropped a touchdown that could have tied the game up. Other than the touchdown, Jake made a few nice catches and a few additional drops as well. Westlee Tonga made a nice circus catch in the first quarter and managed to hang out despite getting his bell rung. David Rolf and Dallin Rogers were non-factors. The blocking from the tight end group continues to be spotty at best.

Offensive Line C+

The run game was average and they still aren't getting much of a push. Wilson wasn't under a ton of pressure and, but still faced a decent pass rush. with OSU picking up two sacks. The turning point of the game was Wilson's fumbled when Sam Brenner was abused by Scott Crichton and pushed back ten yards. That shouldn't be happening when you have a senior left tackle who is talented enough to be an all conference lineman. The penalties weren't an issue with the line this week though, and that's an improvement.

Defensive Line B

They stopped the run. They had decent pressure (although the sacks were again non-existant). What did the defensive line in? Penalties of the personal foul variety, which helped Oregon State sustain drives. Star was again a monster, but with hime taking on two and three blockers on every play, other guys need to be making more plays in the backfield. It sounds like a broken record at this point, but Utah it's really just Star and a bunch of guys not living up to expectations. In the end though, Utah's line played pretty well, but didn't make enough of the big, game changing plays that they need out of their top unit to win the game.

Linebackers B+

Had their best game in weeks, in terms of play and production. Storm Woods had only 47 yards on 17 carries and the running game as a whole averaged under 2 yards per carry. Held the Oregon State tight ends in check and didn't allow much on short routes over the middle. Players were consistently in position to make tackles.

Defensive Backs B-

The Utes held Oregon State QB Cody Vaz to only 167 yards, and shutdown the conference's leading receiver in Brandin Cooks, limiting him to only 1 catch for 8 yards. Still no picks, and that makes 4 straight games without the Utes defense making an interception. When you're offense turns it over 4 times, you need to be able to balance that out by having your own defense force turnovers.

Special Teams B

Reggie Dunn had a nice 35 yard kickoff return and the Utes covered their kickoffs well. Other than that, not much out of either team in the special teams battle.

Coaching C

The defense looked much better, was in position for much of the game, and didn't make any huge mistakes outside of the personal fouls, which can be tolerated because they were aggressive penalties. Kalani Sitake had them ready to play this week. The offense, on the other hand, struggled again, due largely in part to a poorly called game by Brian Johnson. The running game wasn't working outside of a 29 yarder from White and whenever Kelvin York got the ball. Still, York received only 10 carries, while Travis Wilson had 9 of his own for -13 yards (although some of those were sacks). The QB draw is not working, and hasn't worked since week 2, yet Johnson continues to run it. The reverse to Christopher is a great call if he can hold on to the ball because it goes for a touchdown, but it resulted in a turnover, so ultimately it ends up as a bad play call. Why Utah isn't feeding their backs inside the 5 yard line is baffling. It seems like Johnson is still unsure of when he needs to be conservative and when he needs to mix things up. It may be time for a change of some kind. My solution: bring Johnson back down to the sidelines to call the game, instead of being up in the booth.

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