Kendal Thompson was rolling, throwing darts in the passing game and running the ball effectively. Oregon had no answer for him early, and then, his knee buckled. Travis Wilson filled in well throwing for close to 300 yards and taking some chances in the throw game that often paid off. His first two picks of the season hurt, especially the second one that really iced the game, but he showed more poise and confidence against the Ducks than we've really seen all season. There were bouts of inconsistency, and he missed a lot of open receivers by not going through his progressions (THE MIDDLE IS OPEN), but it was a pretty good performance, especially considering that Kaelin Clay gave away 14 points. Wilson could have folded after that and he didn't.
Running Backs: B-
Booker didn't do much in the run game with only 65 yards, but he was an animal catching the ball, making a few tremendous grabs on one drive that resulted in a touchdown. Why wasn't he used like that against ASU? Bubba Poole had 5 touches and a touchdown. Against the Stanford defense, they'll need to use him this week after he lit up the Cardinal last year.
Wide Receivers and Tight Ends: B-
This could have been a very good grade, but Kaelin Clay did what Kaelin Clay did. That took 7 off the board for Utah and put 7 on the board for Oregon. Clay did have 5 catches for 152 yards and has now emerged as Utah's top threat in the passing game. He'll carry an even bigger burden now that Tim Patrick is out for the year with a broken leg following a 3 catch performance. Kenneth Scott had 3 catches for 22 yards and Westlee Tonga had one catch. The receivers were open more this week than in past weeks.
Offensive Line: B
Solid performance in pass protection, and maybe their best of the season as Thompson and Wilson generally had time. The run game wasn't there, but it wasn't their fault as they were working against loaded boxes for much of the game. Siaosi Aiono and J.J. Dielman again had very good games.
Defensive Line: B
Mariota was under siege for much of the night. With the pass rush Utah was putting on in the first and third quarters, they would have had 6+ sacks against 95% of college quarterbacks. Mariota is just that good at escaping. Lowell Lotulelei set the tone early with back to back sacks where he dismantled an all american center. Hunter Dimick was largely held in check, but Nate Orchard was very good again. Oregon couldn't slow him much. Unfortunately, the pass rush disappeared late and Mariota picked them apart when he had time. Also had issue containing the outside run (whether that was Mariota rolling right or a back slipping through) and gave up more big runs up the middle than this D is used to.
Not their best game, but it's against Oregon so it's somewhat understandable. Jared Norris had a very good first half and ended up racking up 11 tackles. Paul's sack was a big one, but he had easily his worst game of the season as he wasn't able to keep up with many ball carriers. 269 yards rushing by Oregon is too much though. Some of that is on the line, but the linebackers looked a bit slow this week against Oregon's speed.
They weren't bad, but there were issues in helping in the run game (too many missed tackles) and Mariota started picking them apart late or when plays broke down. It's hard to cover for 4 to 5 seconds, but the middle of the field would open up too much when Mariota scrambled and things broke down. Hatfield, Orphey, and Rowe weren't at their best. Justin Thomas was a stud though.
Brian Blechen is too slow to play safety against a team like Oregon. Too many big plays came as a result of his lack of speed. Marcus Williams was actually the better safety on Saturday, but like the corners, had some breakdowns when plays were extended by Mariota's feet.
Special Teams: D
Phillips missed a short kick and there were two big returns by Oregon in the punt game. Clay was solid with his returns and Hackett bombed his kicks, but for the first time all season, Utah lost on special teams.
Hard to put too much on the coaches this week. Oregon is just a better team, and easily the best team Utah has faced this season. The defense doesn't have the depth or personnel to keep up with their speed (no one in the Pac 12 really does) and they wore down at the end of each half. The offense was more dynamic this week and we saw more creative play calling. The fake punt in that situation was odd and a few play calls were a bit conservative when deep in Oregon territory. When you're playing Oregon, you have to keep your foot on the gas. Instead, there were a few instances where they seemed conservative because of their comfortability in Phillips making the field goal.
Position Grades: Utah vs Oregon
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