Wilson had a good game from a statistical standpoint, but a lot of that can be attributed to a bad Colorado defense that was really banged up. Way too many open receivers weren't targeted and that slowed what could have been a monster day. Still, he did make some big throws, especially down the field, and got the job done for a Utah win.
Running Backs C
Booker went for a decent 95 yards on 25 carries, but against a Colorado defense that was giving up over 200 per game on the ground, it feels like a disappointment. Did have 5 grabs, including a beautiful one-hander that got the Utes a first down. Not his best day. Not his worst, but the late run to ice it was vintage Booker. Had a Troy McCormick sighting for the first time since what feels like the Clinton administration and he picked up 15 yards on his only touch.
Wide Receivers and Tight Ends B+
The dropsies returned a bit this week, but the big plays balanced that out. Kaelin Clay exploded with 10 catches for 88 yards and 2 touchdowns. He was a menace for the Colorado defense and they had no answer for him. Kenneth Scott came around in the second half and picked up 5 catches, including a couple of chain moving grabs. Delshawn McClellon even had a 55 yarder while Westlee Tonga had three catches, including a big 42 yard catch and run that setup a score. This group could have had 450 yards receiving if Wilson had targeted some wide open guys. They ran free a lot.
Offensive Line C+
The epitome of an up and down performance out of the offensive line. They'd dominate Colorado one series and then be on the other end of a whooping on the next series. Fortunately for the passing game, the pass blocking was more consistent and generally gave Wilson time to throw. The run blocking wasn't up to par against a poor Colorado front 7, but they wore them down late in the game and finally opened things up for Booker late.
Defensive Line D+
Like the offensive line, they'd dominate one series and then get rolled the next. Missing Hunter Dimick was noticeable until Pita Taumoepenu came in for an injured Nate Orchard and started abusing the left tackle. He was a monster. Orchard's early injury looked bad, but he came back and picked up a sack. Lowell Lotulelei was the only one inside that did much. Jason Fanaika had 3 tackles for loss and a team leading 8 tackles, but was burned a bunch by the running backs on the outside. Not their best day considering who they were going against.
Man, do they miss Gionni Paul. We'll start with Jason Whittingham, who made no impact. He's a defensive end, and that's where he should be playing from now on. Jared Norris played through some pain, and is obviously nowhere near 100%. It's shown the last few weeks. Marcus Sanders-Williams still looks a bit overmatched. Colorado didn't torch them on the ground, but the linebackers provided next to zero help in pass coverage.
Nelson Spruce was held in check for much of the game with only 5 catches. Outside of his 66 yard TD, Utah did a good job, and that TD was mostly on the safeties. Play of the game goes to Hatfield for his pick 6 that gave the Utes the win. Eric Rowe had a few nice breakups and Justin Thomas improved as the game went on after a rough start. Davion Orphey was the ultimate mix of big plays and horrendous plays. 317 yards passing allowed is a lot, but most of that blame goes to...
Brian Blechen played one of the worst games you'll see a safety play. He was slow, slow, slow, and looked disinterested. Was toasted over the middle on a catch and run and looked like a marginal Pac 12 level player. Marcus Williams wasn't much better. Both made a nice play or two here and there, but the big plays allowed were a disaster.
Special Teams D
Thank goodness for Tom Hackett again. His punt fake run was perfect and the 70 yard punt flipped the field and got the Utes out of trouble. Another week with another all american caliber performance out of the soon to be Ray Guy award winner. Andy Phillips chunked an extra point early in the game and Utah kept going for 2 to balance it out. Didn't work. Did redeem himself with 2 field goal makes. The kick coverage was a problem again this week with Colorado almost breaking a few of them.
Utah didn't win this game because of coaching. They won it because they have superior talent. The decision to go for 2 the first time was silly and some of the first half play calling on both sides was questionable. Not their best performance. Luckily the Utes have better players than Colorado and were able to beat them based on talent.
Position Grades: Utah at Colorado
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