By Andrew Gorringe
Travis Wilson was efficient and timely with some of his plays, as he had multiple crucial 3rd down conversions against the Beavers. He nearly avoided disaster when a Beaver linebacker dropped in an easy INT over the middle, but that was about the end of Wilson’s struggles that day. The offense was certainly not great on Saturday, but that was not the fault of Travis Wilson.
Running Back: A-
Devontae Booker was superb once again for Utah, averaging 4.8 yards per carry, totaling 121 yards on 25 carries. His first play of the game was maybe the highlight of the game, hurdling a Beaver defender on his way to a 12 yard gain. Booker also provided 3 catches for 25 yards on the day, and it was clear that Utah was content with just feeding Booker all game, as he touched the ball on 28 of Utah’s 61 plays.
Wide Receivers & Tight Ends: B+
There wasn’t a lot of passes to be caught by the wide receivers and tight ends, but when there was, they made the most of it. Kenneth Scott provided a couple very timely big plays, and Tyrone Smith also provided a big play of his own on a 25 yard 3rd down catch. Harrison Handley caught the game’s only touchdown pass on a beautiful wheel route, and he just keeps getting better and better. He’s beginning to look a bit like Jake Murphy did in his sophomore year. Britain Covey and Raelon Singleton each had 3 catches to their name, which led the team, though Singleton did leave the game after a big hit over the middle. Only reason this grade is a B+ is blocking. Downfield blocking, screen blocking and run blocking was not great against the Beavers, and that’s an area that needs to be improved this week.
Offensive Line: C+
Travis Wilson was only sacked one time, but the offensive line struggled to create holes for Devontae Booker once the Oregon State defense made some in-game adjustments. Hiva Lutui filled in for Siaosi Aiono at center (injury), and the absence of Aiono was felt throughout the game. Lutui has played a lot this season at right guard, but it seemed like the added responsibilities of calling out the protection schemes was a difficult adjustment for him. Utah struggled to get a push in the run game from the 2nd quarter on, and the task only gets harder this week against a much better Washington defense.
Defensive Line: B-
This was arguably the defensive line’s worst game of the season, as their performance was not up to the standard that we’ve come to expect from them. Zero sacks came from this group, and they struggled early with containing the edge against Oregon State. Jason Fanaika had the best game of the group, as he was able to adjust and pretty much shut down the outside run game on his side of the defense. Where were the defensive tackles, or Pita T? While Oregon State’s offensive game plan did a good job at avoiding sacks, none of those guys provided much impact on the day.
There wasn’t much there in the run game for the Beavers, and the linebackers are a big reason for that. Jared Norris looked as close to 100% as he could be after missing the USC game, and Gionni Paul was his usual self, making plays all over the field. Jason Whittingham also provided a lot of good snaps, and did a good job at containing the Beavers’ runningbacks. There were a couple times where the linebackers got lost in coverage, but they ultimately had a very good game.
Reggie Porter was arguably the MVP of the defense against Oregon State, as he had a team season high 4 pass breakups, and pretty much shut down his side of the field. Porter has had a solid season overall, but this was easily his best game of the year. Domo Hatfield had the tough task of defending Jordan Villamin, and aside from the lone big play on a slant pass, he did a good job of keeping him in check. Hatfield gave up about 6 inches to Villamin, but was able to neutralize him on deep routes. Justin Thomas also had a tough matchup against Victor Bolden, but held him in check in the pass game, as Bolden did the most of his damage on run plays. The play of the game from the cornerbacks though belonged to Brian Allen, as he had a big time pass break up on a very deep pass near the end zone. Allen was also asked to line up on Villamin, and didn’t give up anything all game.
Tevin Carter had a nice bounce back game this week, as he did a great job in run support from his box safety position, and also didn’t give up any passes on the day. Marcus Williams shut down almost all of the Beaver’s deep pass attempts and also had some nice plays inside the red zone to prevent touchdowns on running plays. The play of the day for the safeties belonged to Chase Hansen, as he provided Utah’s only sack on the day. Hansen was lined up man on man with an OSU tight end, and when the tight end made a crack back block on a rollout pass, Hansen took advantage of the opportunity and came flying in for the big hit and play. While Hansen’s future may not be at the safety position, he has provided some good depth at safety while Andre Godfrey continues to rehab an injury.
Special Teams: A-
Andy Phillips had two big field goals, both 40+ yards away, and also had a couple touchbacks on kickoff duty. The coverage teams were good all day, while Tom Hackett had just another day at the office, averaging 54 yards on 3 punts. Britain Covey had a long punt return negated by a holding penalty, and Utah didn’t have the opportunity to return any kickoffs on the day. Overall, it was a good day for the special teams’ unit.
Offensive Coaching/Gameplan: D+
If you want an explanation as to why Utah only scored 27 points on a very bad Oregon State defense, here it is. The game plan and offensive coaching to begin the game was good, as Utah was able to put up 14 quick points and averaged 9.7 yards per play on those two drives, but there were no in game adjustments made, and the play calling severely hampered the offense in the 2nd and 3rd quarters. The offense came to a screeching halt in those quarters, averaging just 3.2 yards per play, as it seemed like Utah refused to pass the ball, and was content with just trying to run the clock out and get the game over with. Things got better in the 4th quarter, as the offense seemed to open up and some big pass plays were made, but there needs to be more consistency with those kind of play calls. Coach Whittingham said himself that they should have thrown the ball a lot more, and it’s true. A better game plan will be needed this week in order to beat the Huskies.
Defensive Coaching/Gameplan: B
To begin the game, the defensive game plan was not pretty. Utah couldn’t do anything to stop Oregon State’s outside running game, as quick sweeps to the wide receivers and QB keepers were gaining close to 10 yards a pop, but in game adjustments were made and those plays came to a halt later in the game. Utah wasn’t able to find a why to get consistent pressure on Nick Mitchell, and while the Beavers’ offensive gameplan was a big reason behind that, it seemed like Utah did very little to try and counteract the constant roll out and quick passes. Overall, the Utah defense played a pretty vanilla defensive game plan, as exotic blitz schemes and constant pressure just weren’t necessary to win the game.