Armchair Quarterback: Fresno State (1st Half)

Film Breakdown of Each Pass Play Against the Bulldogs

Each week, will provide an in-depth film evaluation of every pass play the Utes run, no matter who is in at quarterback. The goal is to provide the fans with as much detail as possible and provide insight into whether or not the quarterback made the correct decision on each play along with an evaluation of each throw. We're calling this piece The Armchair Quarterback. On each offensive play, grades will be given to each throw. A = Perfect Pass, B = Good Pass, C = Okay Pass, D = Bad Pass, and F = Horrible Pass. Passes that are thrown away will be given an automatic "B" grade.

Let's begin.

14:14 1Q / 1st and 10 / Utah 36 / Wilson - 41 yard Completion to Anderson
Formation: Spread TE Tight / 2 WR to wide side / 1 WR to near side / TE offset of tackle

The defense appears to be in cover two, but quickly change to cover three before the snap. Anderson runs a sluggo (slant & go) and the corner bites hard on the slant which leaves Anderson wide open. Anderson is Wilson’s first read and he makes a decent throw but he forces Dres to wait for the ball which prevents what could have been a catch-and-run touchdown. It’s a brilliant play call by Coach Christensen as a lot of teams will run quick slants early in the game to try and get the QB in a rythym, and it’s executed perfectly.

Decision: Correct Throw: B

12:13 1Q / 3rd and 17 / Fresno 30 / Wilson - Incomplete to Poole
Formation: Spread Base / 2 WR to near side / 1 WR & 1 TE to wide side

Fresno brings pressure with five blitzers while running cover one, which leaves five defenders man-to-man. Utah has a screen to Poole called, but right guard Isaac Asiata is late getting out to the flats and as a result he obstructs Poole from being able to make a play on a high pass from Wilson. Could the pass have been better? Yes. But it didn’t ruin the play. Asiata has to do a better job getting out in the flats.

Decision: Correct Throw: C

8:41 1Q / 1st and 5 / Fresno 11 / Wilson - Scramble for no gain Formation: Spread Trips Right/ 2 WR’s & a TE to far side / 1 WR near side

Fresno shows blitz with their nickel back pre snap and end up bringing him, which leaves the defense in cover one man-to-man with a LB on slot WR Kaelin Clay. Utes call a bubble screen to Clay, but it’s blown up by the Fresno safety when he runs right past tight end Westlee Tonga who was supposed to block him. Wilson immediately sees the safety, pulls the ball down, and runs up the middle for one yard. Had he thrown it, there is a very good chance it would have been intercepted.

Decision: Correct Throw: N/A

8:11 1Q / 2nd and 5 / Fresno 11 / Wilson - Incomplete to Scott
Formation: Spread Ace / 2 TE’s in tight / 1 WR to near side / 1 WR to far side

Fresno runs cover one man-to-man again and the play call is a fade to Kenneth Scott all the way. Scott gives his defender a little shake at the line of scrimmage and then does a good job of using his hands to create separation in the end zone. Wilson overthrows a relatively open Scott though, and it’s incomplete.

Decision: Correct Throw: D

8:07 1Q / 3rd and 5 / Fresno 11 / Wilson - 11 yard completion to Scott for TD
Formation: Spread Trips Right / 2 WR’s & a TE to far side / 1 WR to near side

Different formation, same play as before. Cover one man-to-man from Fresno again and Scott runs the same fade route as before. Scott doesn’t get as much separation as he did on the previous play, but a perfect ball from Wilson allows Scott to go up and over the defender who has his back to the QB. Perfect ball, perfect catch, touchdown.

Decision: Correct Throw: A

6:42 1st Q / 1st and 10 / Fresno 32 / Wilson – Thrown Away – Intentional Grounding
Formation: Spread TE Tight / 1 WR & TE offset of tackle near side / 2 WR’s far side

Once again, Fresno is runs cover one man-to-man but brings another nickle back blitz which leaves the safety to cover the slot WR. Utah tries to run crossing routes with it’s slot and outside receivers to the near side, but the play doesn’t have the proper time to develop. Running back Devontae Booker fails to block the blitzing nickel back who side-steps the attempeted cut block. This forces Wilson to his right and he doesn’t get completely out of the pocket before throwing the ball away resulting in an intentional grounding penalty. His decision was in a sense correct, but because he failed to get outside the tackle box he gets an incomplete grade.

Decision: Incorrect Throw: B

6:07 1Q / 3rd and 16 / Fresno 38 / Wilson – 38 yard Completion to Dres for TD
Formation: Spread Base / 1 WR & TE to far side / 2 WR’s to near side

Fresno runs cover two man this time and has their corners playing 8 yards off the ball. Dres is the outside reciever on the near side and runs a simple “go” route. The slot receiver, McClellon, runs an 8 yard out. Dres is simply too fast for the corner. The Fresno safety has to make a decision on who to cover and chooses to jump the corner route instead of helping deep. Wilson’s first read appears to be the out route to McClellon which is quickly shut down by the Fresno D, but he quickly sees Dres streaking down the sideline. Wilson gets good protection and delivers an absolutely perfect ball to Dres for the TD. One of the best throws of his career.

Decision: Correct Throw: A

4:49 1Q / 1st and 10 / Utah 27 / Wilson – Incompletion to Tonga
Formation: Spread TE Tight / 1 WR & TE offset of tackle to near side / 2 WR’s to far side

Utah pulls right guard Isaac Asiata and fakes the sweep to Booker. Fresno’s inside linebackers bite hard on the fake, which leaves the middle of the field wide open. Fresno is actually lined up in what appears to be 3-4, but they rolled their safety to the side with two WR’s and had the opposite corner back like a safety. This leaves Kenneth Scott with no defender in front of him. Tonga runs a wheel route from his offset position but is well covered the whole play by the outside linebacker who doesn't bite on the fake. Fresno also blitzes the weak side outside linebacker who has a free run at Wilson rolling to his left. Because of this Wilson rushes his throw, more so than he needed to, and fails to move on from his first progression (Tonga) to his second (Scott) who was wide open in the middle of the field for what would’ve been a 20 yard gain. Wilson throws it to Tonga, but it’s overthrown badly and never gives Tonga a shot to make a play on the ball.

Decision: Incorrect Throw: D

4:17 1Q / 3rd and 6 / Utah 31 / Wilson - 9 yard Completion to Scott
Formation: Spread Base / 1 WR & TE to far side / 2 WR’s to near side

Fresno lines up in a 4-2-5 and is running cover three with both their corners covering the deep third along with the free safety. All of Utah’s WR’s run 10 yard hitch routes and Wilson’s read is left to right, which has Scott as the first read. Scott gets great separation from the corner after selling the go route, and the pass is on time right when Scott makes his break. Wilson takes a 3 step drop, takes one step up in the pocket and places the pass perfectly to Scott’s outside shoulder.

Decision: Correct Throw: A

3:32 1Q / 2nd and 12 / Utah 38 / Wilson – Incomplete to Booker
Formation: Spread Base / 1 WR & TE to far side / 2 WR’s to near side

This play is doomed from the start. RG Isaac Asiata is beat by an opposing defensive tackle’s swim move and Wilson can’t even finish his three step drop before having to climb the pocket to avoid the sack. Fresno only blitzes four and runs straight cover two zone in the secondary. Utah tries to set up another deep pass to Dres who is lined up in the slot to the far side. Because of the pressure, Wilson steps up in the pocket early and attempts to dump the ball off to Booker on an out route from the backfield. He’s tripped up as he throws the ball which causes the pass to dive into the turf. Dres appeared to beat the defense deep and this could’ve been another big play had the pass protection not broken down so quickly.

Decision: Correct Throw: C

3:28 1Q / 3rd and 12 / Utah 38 / Wilson – Incomplete to Tonga
Formation: Spread Trips Right / 2 WR & TE to far side / 1 WR to near side

Fresno runs a 3-4 cover two defense and brings two linebackers on a blitz while dropping the weak side defensive end in coverage. Wilson fakes a sweep to Booker to the weak side while LG Junior Salt pulls to the strong side to provide protection on a roll out pass for Wilson. The slot receiver (Clay) fakes a bubble screen, while Tonga runs a wheel route and Dres runs a deep skinny post. Fresno rolls their safety up to cover the slot receiver and drops it’s corner to the deep secondary which leaves Tonga pretty much unguarded initially on his wheel route. Wilson identifies Tonga right away and delivers a good pass that is slightly leading Tonga. Unfortunately the corner also sees Tonga and peels off of Dres to hit Tonga right when he catches it, which jars the ball loose. Had Wilson thrown a back shoulder throw that made Tonga stop to catch the ball, it would have likely been a completion. This was more about the Fresno corner making a good play than Wilson making a bad throw/decision.

Decision: Correct Throw: B

0:47 1Q / 1st and 10 / Fresno 28 / Wilson – Incomplete – Thrown Away
Formation: Spread Base / 1 WR & TE to near side / 2 WR’s to far side

Utah motions Kaelin Clay from the far side to the near pre snap and then tries and set up a screen pass to Bubba Poole. Fresno is it’s base 3-4 and brings the weak side LB and safety on a blitz with cover two in the secondary. The blitzing safety recognizes the screen, stops his blitz, and sits right in the flat. That combined with cover two and there was simply nowhere to throw the ball for Wilson. He scrambles to his right and correctly throws the ball away.

Decision: Correct Throw: B

0:40 1Q / 2nd and 10 / Fresno 28 / Wilson – Incomplete to Scott
Formation: Spread Stacks / 2 WR’s stacked to far side / 1 WR & TE stacked to near side

Fresno lines up with an outside backer over the top of the far side stack with the corner 10 yards behind. They roll to cover two at the snap with the strong safety blitzing. At the top of the far side stack is Clay, who takes an inside release and runs a skinny post. Scott is the trailing receiver and runs a 5 yard out. The outside backer at first tries to jam Clay, but quickly releases to cover Scott in the flats. Scott has the backer beat and Wilson makes the right read, but he's late with the throw. If Wilson throws the ball right when Scott makes his break (shown in picture), it’s a completion for a first down, but because he hesitates Scott catches the ball out of bounds.

Decision: Correct Throw: D

0:35 1Q / 3rd and 10 / Fresno 28 / Wilson – 9 yard Completion to Scott
Formation: Spread Base / 1 WR & TE to far side / 2 WR’s to near side

Fresno blitzes 5 defenders at the snap, and runs cover one man-to-man in the secondary. Kenneth Scott is the outside receiver to the far side of the field and runs a 10 yard hitch right at the first down line. Wilson takes 3 step drop and has Scott as his first read, which is the correct one. Scott gets good separation again, but the pass is a little too far to the sideline and Scott has to come back a yard to make a great diving catch. It’s a well thrown ball in the sense that only Scott is able to catch it, but if it was a little further inside Scott would’ve been able to pick up the first down. Scott makes the catch and is marked a yard short of the first down line and Utah fails to convert a 4th and 1 on the next play.

Decision: Correct Throw: B

10:34 2Q / 2nd and 6 / Utah 29 / Wilson – Incomplete to Dres
Formation: Spread Base / 1 WR & TE offset of tackle to near side, 2 WR’s to far side

Fresno plays cover two man and only rush four defenders with the corners giving 8 yard cushions. Utah runs the same play they did on the first play of the game trying to hit Dres on a sluggo again to the far side of the field. With the corners giving up 8 yards at the LOS they’re trying to take away the deep ball, but it doesn’t work. The corner bites again on the slant route and Dres is able to run by the defender. Fortunately for the Bulldogs, Wilson overthrows Dres by about 3 yards on what would have been a sure-fire touchdown if thrown accurately. Protection is good by the offensive line and Wilson makes the right read, it’s simply a bad throw.

Decision: Correct Throw: D

10:28 2Q / 3rd and 6 / Utah 29 / Wilson – Completion to Poole for 2 yard loss
Formation: Spread Base / 2 WR to the near side / 2 WR to far side

Utah motions Poole out of the backfield parallel to the LOS to far side of the field. On the snap Wilson immediately turns and throws to Poole in the flats. The play gives off the appearance of a screen pass, but it’s not as two WR’s run routes of their own. Tonga, closest to the LOS, appears to be running a corner route and Patrick is running a slant with a hitch at the top of the route. Fresno is in cover one man to man and has a LB trailing Poole out of the backfield. Because Wilson turns to throw so fast, the corner gives up his man and converges on Poole. They both arrive shortly after Poole catches the ball and drop him for a loss. Had the Utes had their WR block at the snap this play could have been a success, but because they ran routes, Wilson should have seen the corner abandoning Patrick and dumped it off to him for what would’ve been a first down.

Decision: Incorrect Throw: B

9:18 2Q / 1st and 10 / Utah 42 / Wilson – 9 yard completion to Scott
Formation: Spread Base / 1 WR & TE to far side / 2 WR to near side

Fresno lines up in cover four and the corners bail from the LOS at the snap of the ball. Utah runs another play with all receivers running hitch routes, but this time they’re only 5 yards deep. Because the outside linebacker is lined up directly over Tonga in the slot, he’s slow to get out to the sideline where Wilson hits an open Kenneth Scott. Wilson recognizes the corners bailing at the snap and knows he has Scott as his first read, so he only takes a one step drop and delivers a perfect ball to Scott. Scott catches it at five yards, comes back to the inside making the linebacker miss, and picks up 4 more yards.

Decision: Correct Throw: A

7:40 2Q / 4th and 1 / Fresno 24 / Wilson – 24 yard TD to Tonga
Formation: Spread Trips Right TE Tight / 1 WR to near side / 1 TE tight & 2 WR’s to far side

Fresno lines up in what looks like a base 3-4 cover one man-to-man, but drop the boundary corner back before the snap and actually run a straight cover two. Utah has the perfect play called for this defense as the linebackers bite on the play-action sweep to the near side of the field and Tonga runs a simple seam route where the LB’s have vacated. Wilson fakes the handoff, and then hesitates just slightly when the LB tries to recover and briefly obstructs Wilson’s throwing lane. Because he hesitates, Wilson has cleared a new lane to throw the pass to a wide open Tonga but puts it slightly behind him. This works to Tonga’s advantage however as he’s able to reverse field on the two safeties and then drag them in to the endzone.

Decision: Correct Throw:B

5:23 2Q / 2nd and 7 / Fresno 47 / Wilson – 7 yard Completion to Scott
Formation: Spread Trips Left TE Tight / 2 WR & TE tight to far side / 1 WR to near side

Fresno lines up with off coverage to the far side of the field and the boundary corner playing press man. The whole defense is running cover one man. Wilson pretty easily recognizes the cover one defense, and with the field corner playing off coverage he knows he has Scott on a 5 yard hitch route. Wilson takes a one step drop and delivers a perfect pass to Scott who turns to the outside and picks up an additional 3 yards and a first down.

Decision: Correct Throw: A

4:40 2Q / 2nd and 6 / Fresno 36 / Wilson – 36 yard TD to Scott
Formation: Spread Base / 2 WR’s to near side / 1 WR & TE to far side

Fresno is once again lined up in cover one man-to-man. They bring five defenders at the snap to rush the QB. The corner over the top of Scott bails at the snap and ends up giving Scott a six yard cushion. Utes run all hitches again and Wilson reads from left to right. Scott gets good separation due in large part to the cushion given by the corner and he gets 10 yards before turning back to the QB. Wilson gets great protection and delivers a perfect ball to Scott’s outside shoulder after a 3 yard drop. Scott does the rest of the work. He gets a nice block from Delshawn McClellon and weaves his way between defenders in to the endzone.

Decision: Correct Throw: A

1st Half Totals

Correct: 17
Incorrect: 3

A: 6
B: 7
C: 2
D: 4
F: 0

Overall it was a good first half for Wilson. He made the correct decision 85% of the time he dropped back to pass and didn't try to force any passes that could result in interceptions. Some of his throws could have been better - 21% of his throws are what I considered to be bad throws - while 68% his passes were either good or perfect. Certainly nothing catastrophic, but there is definitely room for improvement in the third game against Michigan.

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