Utah’s defense bent at times during the game, but they did what they had to do in order to limit Michigan to just a single field goal on their opening drive. Did Utah give up yards to Michigan? They did, a total of 308 yards to be exact, but they kept Michigan out of the endzone with intense pressure which helped produce three key interceptions that really changed and helped secure the game.
Yes, three interceptions. The same total from all of last season.
Without a doubt, Travis Wilson is the star, leader, and emotional captain of this team. If there was any lingering doubt or quarterback controversy let it be put to rest here and now. It was clear today when he was in and when he was out that Utah will go as far as he can take them. Wilson played nearly mistake-free with the exception of one play in which he nearly stripped his nose off trying to dive 7 or 8 yards for a first down. Flat out, he can’t and shouldn't try to make those plays and needs to throw it away or take the sack in that situation. It’s very evident that Wilson is incredibly comfortable with Dave Christensen’s offense. He knows where to throw the ball, how to read the defense, and as a result he's been on target more often and has more confidence guiding the team down the field. In short, the offense did enough to win the game. They weren't spectacular, but they were efficient and did their job.
Utah’s defense and special teams were without a doubt the stars of this game. Gionni Paul is a huge difference-maker for this team. Having him in there really changes what this linebacker crew looks like. Paul’s play today with an interception, a fumble recovery, and a ton of tackles not only improved the middle for Utah, but his presence seemed to improve the play and intensity we saw from Jared Norris, who had one of his best games as a Ute.
Dimick and Orchard are the real deal folks. They have what it takes to apply pressure all game long. Dimick’s motor never stops and the ceiling continues to rise for the Syracuse, Utah native. Orchard had some struggles early, but he was there when Utah needed a big play and had several sacks that made a difference in Utah being able to come out with the victory.
Utah’s safeties and corners had their best games of the season. After a slow start in Utah’s first two victories, Brian Blechen and Tevin Carter had their coming out party at the Big House. They set the tone with big hits early, but more importantly they had a nose for the ball with each drawing an interception at critical junctures in the game. If this is the type of play we can expect from both Blechen and Carter going forward, Utah’s secondary could be in great hands. Especially as Utah now heads into Pac-12 play.
Special teams continues to be special with Andy Phillips, Tom Hackett, and Kaelin Clay perhaps being the best special teams trio in the country. All three are huge weapons for the Utes and they are proving to be a game-changing group each and every week. They are a huge reason for the victory over Michigan and were responsible for 19 of Utah’s 26 points.