Position Grades for the Utes after getting beat up by the Washington Huskies Quarterback D
Travis Wilson really struggled to get anything done for the Utes on Saturday night. Sure it was a road game, sure it was a hostile environment, sure his wide receivers didn't make a lot of plays, but at the end of the day Travis Wilson just didn't get it done. 8 for 23 is bad, flatout bad. Throwing for 55 yards is pathetic. Washington has some playmakers in their secondary, but not the type that hold opposing teams to 55 yards! Travis Wilson struggled holding on to the ball all night as well. He nearly lost a few fumbles and look uncomfortable all night. The interception Wilson threw early in the 2nd quarter was painful for the Utes coming in Huskies territory and forced in great coverage. Wilson is a freshman, Wilson's O line is not rock solid, and Wilson's receivers didn't do much to help out all night, but this performance was still ugly. This is the worst Travis has played all season.
Running backs A-
John White IV showed up and was one of the few Utes I thought left it all on the field. He put the Utes on the board early with an explosive 46 yard TD, and battled the entire night. White was also responsible for the Utes other score, using good vision to find the endzone from 20 yards out. John White IV was the offense for the Utes and looked similar to the Wolfman that became a fan favorite in 2011. On of White's biggest flaws was exposed in the game against Washington when 4 or 5 passes were thrown his way with little to no success. John White IV has never been a consistent factor in the passing game and has below average hands out of the backfield. No Karl Williams to compliment the Wolfman.
Wide Receivers & Tight Ends F
Is an F too harsh? Clearly, I don't think so. These guys did absolutely nothing. There were far too many drops and far too little production to get anything other than a failing grade. How many times did the Utes receivers find seperation against the Huskies? I can recall one time off the top of my head and that was when Kenneth Scott dropped the one ball Wilson placed perfectly all game. Luke Matthews was the leading receiver for the Utes with 4 catches for 25 yards. The way the Utes WR's and TE's played against Washington play have gotten the job done against a Mountain West team, but Washington is a team with multiple NFL bound DB's and the Utes were eaten alive by them. Kenneth Scott, Anthony Denham, and Dres Anderson need to step their game up. If you aren't a gamer, you can have all the talent and size in the world, and it means little to nothing.
Offensive Line C
The O Line played okay. They opened up a few massive holes for John White IV to waltz through, also allowed 4 sacks and added a few penalties as well. CJ Poutasi has been exposed by speed rushers all season long, and Washington was no different. Tevita Stevens and Vyncent Jones did a good job in the first half bullying the DT's for Washington, but in the 2nd half they were a non-factor. These unit has been playing a lot better as the season has gone on, but they were not very good against the Huskies and need to step it up if the Utes want to win out.
Defensive Line C-
The pass rush by the Utes was decent for portions of the game and below average during other stretches, but the front 4 was consistently dominated against the Washington ground game. Joe Kruger in particular was exposed by Washington's ground attack. It was clear they were going right at Joe and had great success. Nate Fakahafua was the only bright spot for the Utes, Nate was active from start to finish and made some good plays, including a fantastic sack on Price. Dave Kruger was a non-factor, getting nothing done for the Utes and eventually being replaced by Tenny Palepoi. Star was quiet for much of the game, he chased Price a few times, but he was also dominated by a few double teams and beat one on one at times as well. The Utes took a few steps back against an O Line that was supposed to be a weakness for the Huskies.
If it wasn't for V.J. Fehoko playing his best game as a Ute this would be an F. The Utes LB's were exposed in this game like they were against ASU & UCLA. The lack of speed was apparent, and the failure to make plays was troubling. With injuries to Jacoby Hale and Reshawn Hooker the Utes LB speed is a weakness, especially against teams with a dual threat QB. Jason Whittingham, Trevor Reilly, and LT Filiaga were found out of place several times and everyone was guilty of missing tackles. The missed assignments from these guys need to be addressed and fixed or else Arizona will beat on the Utes like a drum.
Defensive Backs D+
After shutting down Leach and the WSU aerial attack, the Utes DB's couldn't shut down much of anything. Ryan Lacy did not look like the Ryan Lacy that shutdown Keenan Allen 2 weeks ago. The Safeties continued to have mental lapses allowed huge plays by Washington downfield. Having watched the game you wouldn't have thought Keith Price was having a hard time in 2012. He looked like an All-Pac12 quarterback and a lot of that had to do with the Utes secondary. Reggie Topps and Brian Blechen made a few solid plays which keeps the Utes from another F, but that D may be generous. Arizona is going to have a similar offensive attack (minus Seferian-Jenkins).
Special Teams F
Charles Henderson's performance was hard to watch throughout the night. As a punt returner you have to be daring, but there is a huge difference between daring and plain dumb and that line was crossed. Charles Henderson is one of the most talented Utes, but his decisions to field those punts was a huge part of the Utes breakdown in Seattle. It is almost surprising he didn't fumble more than one punt, and he also received what looked to be a bailout call when the refs threw the flag for fair catch interference. Sellwood and Hackett were below their season averages on punts as well. The Utes kickoff coverage was strong, Karl Williams led the charge, flying down the field and refusing to let the Huskies return man bring it past the 20. Still, Charles Henderson's decision making is enough to warrant an F.
I think this ugly loss had a lot more to do with players and mistakes on the field than the coaching. I thought Coach Johnson made a few poor calls on 3rd downs, including a few designed pass plays for John White. This play has rarely worked, and yet it was used several times against Washington. Another play call that I thought was bad was the decision to go for it on 4th and 1 and run the ball out of shotgun. The goal line formation was unstoppable against Washington State, and yet they come out in a spread/shotgun formation? On D, I think it was just being outgunned on the field. I think Coach Sitake made a few adjustments throughout the game, but players were just not able to make the plays. Also, I think Coach Hill should have demanded Henderson fair catch the ball after watching his first 2 returns.
Failing Grades for the Utes.
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