Giving a Freshman QB a B after putting up career numbers feels harsh, Wilson did go 28-40 with 311 yards and 2 touchdowns, which is pretty impressive, but during critical moments he came up short and his fumble was not only painful, but also bizarre. The fumble virtually gave Arizona a touchdown, and put the Utes in a pretty difficult hole. On both flea flicker plays Wilson could have made better passes, the first one could have likely gone for a touchdown with a better thrown ball, and the second one would have been complete for a big gain. Still, there was a lot of good displayed by Travis tonight, anytime a freshman can throw for 300+ yards in bad weather you've got to be impressed.
Running Backs B+
John White IV had another impressive performance for the Utes on Saturday night. The Wolfman put together a complete game, rushing for 112 yards, bringing in 38 receiving yards, and was solid in pass protection throughout the night. John White got 30 touches in the game and provided a game reminiscent of 2011, where the Utes could rely on John White IV to move the chains. White was unable to find the end zone and was stopped short on a 3rd and 1 + 4th and inches, 5 yards from paydirt. John White IV needs to be able to get 1 yard in two chance, and obviously the Offensive Line plays a huge role in that, but good running backs find a way to get one yard. All in all, White had a solid game, but he wasn't a game-changer. Against Arizona's defense 150 yards on the ground + 2 touchdowns is a real difference maker, and worthy of an A.
Wide Receivers B-
As usual this group had the good, the bad, and the ugly. DeVonte's reemergence as a playmaker was nice to see and he had a few big plays downfield, including a 42 yard reception on a flea-flicker and a 36 yard touchdown catch. DeVonte ran a few very crisp routes and out of all the Utes receivers was able to find the most separation from the Arizona D. Dres Anderson provided a few big plays for the Utes, but fumbled and was fortunate to recover it. Dres had 7 receptions for 78 yards and an additional 12 rushing yards, but outside of his big 26 yard catch downfield it didn't feel like Dres had a very big impact on the game. Kenneth Scott was targeted 9 times, yet only managed 28 yards total. For such a physical specimen, Scott cannot be held to 28 yards on 6 receptions against such a mediocre defense. Kenneth Scott ran a very poor routes on 3rd down, a crucial 4th and 4, and late in the game when the Utes were trying to score , for whatever reason Kenneth ran a 2 yard hitch and got tackled in bounds, virtually ending the game. Kenneth Scott has shown his potential, but he needs to start using that ability game in, game out, not every 4th game. Luke Matthews had a nice play and blocked well downfield, but he also dropped a few passes that he needs to reel in. Quinton Pedroza took some reps at WR throughout the game. Anthony Denham and Reggie Dunn were virtually no shows.
Tight ends and H-backs B
Jake Murphy displayed his ability to be a dynamic tight end late in the 1st half when he took a Travis Wilson pass 34 yards to the house. Murphy block a tackle and showed his shiftiness with the ball in his hand, but unfortunately after that touchdown, Jake didn't do much. David Rolf got involved for what seems to be the first time since Utah State. Karl Williams also had the ball in his hands a few times running through a few AZ defenders.
Offensive Line C+
Allowing no sacks passes the eye test, but run blocking was mediocre at best. The Utes averages 3.8 yards per carry, which against Arizona is not very impressive at all. The O Line rarely go to their secondary blocks, and missed a few key assignments when the Wildcats would run blitz. Vyncent Jones was a bully throughout the game, he finished the game with 7 pancakes, which is pretty unreal. While Jones was a force to be reckoned with, outside of Sam Brenner there was nobody else on the line that played consistently good football, or even decent football. The Wildcats had success blitzing a linebacker all night and while they only ended up with a few TFLs, they were meeting John White at the line of scrimmage time and time again, and the screen pass was blown up every time.
Defensive Line D+
This group was gashed up the middle, to the right, and to the left. Ka'Deem Carey and Matt Scott were met with very little opposition. The read option exposed the Utes lack of speed. Whether Scott kept it or Carey got the rock it became a track race that the Utes wanted nothing to do with. The Defensive ends were toast on the outside often times left looking silly as Scott put on the afterburners and left Reilly, Kruger, and Fakahafua in his dust. The double team kept Star out of the game 80% of the time, and when Star did get a good push, Scott would just bust it outside. Star was able to recover a fumble and he made a fantastic play chasing down the play from behind. Tenny Palepoi and Dave Kruger were both inconsistent and didn't capitalize Star's double team. This was one of the weaker performances by this team up front.
Brian Blechen started the game at linebacker and while he was in on 9 tackles, had a few big hits, and forced a fumble, Blechen missed on a handful of tackles a few of his misses led to huge gains for Arizona. Jason Whittingham, also started the game, and like Blechen made a few good plays, but was a liability against Carey and Scott's dynamic option. V.J. Fehoko offered a solution to the run up the middle, but was eaten alive on the outside stuff. Perhaps Hale and Hooker could have offered a decent counter punch for the AZ offense, but neither player was active for the game.
Defensive Backs B-
The Utes started 5 defensive backs against Arizona, Lacy, Lee, Lewis Walker, Michael Walker, and Eric Rowe. The Utes D held a usually efficient Matt Scott to a subpar performance through the air. Scott only completed 12 of his 27 passes. The cornerbacks did a decent job in coverage. Scott was also off on a few passes downfield that would have went for big gains. Eric Rowe was the MVP of the Utes D, which may not be saying much in a game where Arizona was able to move the ball pretty easily, but Rowe prevented a handful of Carey and Scott 50+ yard touchdowns. Rowe was a beast in the open field making a few remarkable tackles. The secondary whiffed on a few tackles and Carey and Scott were able to put moves on the DBs making them look silly as well. This unit was the strength of the D, but it was far from pretty in the secondary.
Special Teams B
This one was not easy for me to decide. Coleman Petersen's touchdown was the Harlem Globetrotter's on the gridiron and it was as sweet as it gets, but the fake punt at the game was both ill-advised and executed poorly. The fake FG was one of my favorite plays I have seen the Utes fun in 2012, and maybe ever. Sellwood put the ball right on Coleman and Jake Murphy was there to make it easy for Petersen to waltz into the end zone. The fake punt was a big gamble. I understand why the play was called, but that doesn't mean I agreed with it. If Sellwood put the ball on Mike Honeycutt, Honeycutt may still be running! Yet, it is really hard to fault Sellwood, he is a punter, not a quarterback. The Utes were solid per usual on KO coverage and AZ was certain to avoid Reggie Dunn on kickoff. Dallin Rogers got a work out on kickoff return. The Utes punting game was decent.
Like I mentioned under special teams, I loved the Fake field goal, but was not as high on the fake punt. I also thought the Utes should have kicked the 43 yard field goal on the first drive, and then the 22 yard field goal on the second drive. Coach Whitt and Coach Hill called an aggressive game and I can respect that, but I just don't agree. Coach Johnson had an up and down game, but the biggest issue I had with the play calling was running a toss with John White IV on 4th and inches. You have got to go up the gut there if you are going to roll the dice. But the Utes left far too many points on the field against a team that has a high octane offense. I thought Coach Sitake did a decent job with preparing for Arizona, I just think it came down to the D not executing. Coach Sitake and Coach Chad can't be on the field making the tackles, it came down to the players loosing contain, taking poor angles, and straight up misses tackles.
Position Grades against the Wildcats
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