By Steven Herrera
Travis Wilson played an incredible and masterful game against the Ducks. Wilson made smart decisions with the ball all night and made the correct reads on option plays. It was great to see Wilson throwing the ball up and giving his receivers a chance to make a play, most notably on Repp’s first touchdown catch and Scott’s back-to-back receptions in the third quarter. Travis Wilson also showed an impressive ability to manipulate Oregon’s defense with his eyes, e.g., on both touchdown passes to Covey and Scott. Wilson’s lone mistake throughout the night was bouncing outside on an option keep and losing a yard when he should have cut up the field.
Running backs: A-
While Booker did not break 100 yards or the goal line, he played a great game. When the offensive line opened up a hole, Booker took advantage and broke off good runs. When nothing was open for Booker, he managed to gain a couple yards instead of taking a loss. Same Booker, different day. Add in a catch that went for 20+ yards and good help in pass protection and Booker had a solid game per usual. Oh yeah, and Booker’s touchdown pass to Covey was spot on. The only negative play Booker had was a rare drop.
Joe Williams couldn’t get much going with his limited touches and had a drop in the game. Williams did manage to have to a catch for a good gain.
Wide Receivers & Tight Ends: A
Utah’s pass catchers did what they were supposed to do against a weak secondary. Kenneth Scott had his best game of the season going for six catches, 75 yards, and a touchdown. Scott had some key catches on third down that kept drives alive and also won some one-on-one battles on back-to-back catches in the third quarter. Britain Covey continued his incredible freshman season with two wide-open touchdown catches. Covey might have been able to use his elusiveness to pick up a first down on a quick screen if the line of scrimmage didn’t trip him up. Kenric Young and Tyrone Smith added two catches apiece in the blowout.
Caleb Repp made an incredible touchdown grab in the back of the end zone for his first score as a Ute. Repp also added a second touchdown to his resume in the second half going wide open right up the seam. Fakailoatonga added two catches and had a drop.
Offensive Line: B
No sacks were allowed against Oregon but Travis Wilson should get half the credit for making smart plays and getting rid of the ball when pressured. The Ducks did manage to hold Booker under 100 yards (though Wilson rushed for 100) and managed to harass Wilson, most disturbingly with three man rushes. For example, the deep pass to Butler-Byrd that should have resulted in a huge gain was doomed by poor pass protection on a three man rush. Utah kept seven men in protection on the play and Wilson is still pressured and hit, which did not allow him to step into the throw. Oregon’s nose tackle simply blows Aiono up and gets enough on Wilson to mess up the play. Tevi got beat badly on some pass plays and Dielman dropped his head too much leading to blown protections. Dielman also should have had a false start penalty on the touchdown pass to Kenneth Scott. It was not all bad though. The offensive line managed to open nice running lanes up and Asiata does a great job getting through the hole and sealing off pursuing defenders when he pulls. Additionally, Utah’s offense does not score five passing touchdowns without some decent pass protection.
Defensive Line: A-
The defensive line had a great game against the Ducks, holding Freeman to under 100 yards and racking up five sacks. There could have been a few more sacks added to that total but Lockie managed to break free from the d-line a few times. Sound gap control and good penetration played a major role in holding Oregon’s offense to two touchdowns outside of garbage time, including one drive that started on the Utah 11. Kylie Fitts was playing well until he went down with a leg injury and Mokofisi made his fair share of plays. This was the defensive line that everyone expected at the beginning of the season.
Outside of a few missed tackles and not dropping back far enough into coverage on a couple of plays, the linebackers played great. Even though the game was metaphorically over, it was exciting seeing Jared Norris and Gionni Paul still playing hard and teaming up to cause and recover a fumble. Paul also made an outstanding play in coverage, breaking up a pass intended for Freeman without interfering or holding. Paul finished with five tackles, Norris with four, and Whittingham added a late sack.
The corners did a nice job of limiting Oregon’s success in the air. Throughout the game, the Oregon quarterbacks held onto the ball and took “coverage sacks” or forced bad passes. There was some soft coverage that allowed the Ducks to pick up chunk yards but that might have been a coaching decision designed to keep everything in front of the defense. Hatfield came away with a nice interception in the end zone that stopped a good Oregon drive and Porter might’ve made a play on a pass that was intercepted by Marcus Williams. The only reason the cornerback group does not receive a solid A is the blown coverage by Porter that gave up a six-yard touchdown to Addison.
This could be an A but a few things knocked the safeties down. The first being two potential interceptions that were dropped. Carter’s drop really stuck out as the ball hit him in the hands and might have been a pick-six had he made the catch. Carter’s hand or finger(s) might have been injured earlier in the quarter and the reason he did not pull this one down. William’s dropped interception was not as bad as he had to dive to have a chance, yet, he still got two hands on the ball. The other noticeably bad play was by Carter on an option play. A missed read by Carter allowed Lockie to take off and almost score.
Special teams: A-
The special teams unit was indeed special. After a slow start to the season, Utah was able to carry last week’s special teams momentum into this game. Andy Phillips made both field goal attempts from distances of 28 and 44 yards. Phillips also made all eight extra points he attempted. Tom Hackett had punts downed inside the 10 and inside the two, including a booming 76 yarder. Hackett also made an incredible grab on a high snap and showed off his running ability, picking up 33 yards on fourth down. Boobie Hobbs scored a touchdown on a trick play punt return that had everyone down to the cameraman fooled. There is only one thing stopping the special teams unit from receiving an A, the 77-yard kick return (tack on an additional 12 yards for a facemask penalty) that set up a touchdown for Oregon. Byron Marshall went untouched for about 60 yards and exposed a coverage team that otherwise had a good night.