By Cody Harris
A “C” is average, completing 12 out of 25 passes, no TD’s and 1 interception (should have been 2) is definitely below average when it comes to the QB play, especially when 9 out of the 13 incompletions were inaccurate, just bad throws. However, Travis played tough, showed leadership, and accounted for 2 TD’s on the ground. Against a defense in Washington that has far exceeded expectations coming into the season, the game plan was clearly to beat the Huskies on the ground and Travis did his part, making good reads in the option game to come away with 49 yards rushing and two scores. Instead of throwing his receivers open, he tends to throw them to a stop which allows for easy tackles by the defenders. You would like to see a lot more through the air out of a Senior QB, but Travis did help his team more than he hurt them.
Running Back: B
This was vintage Devontae Booker, a workhorse who flat out wore the defense out, taking advantage as the game went on. Booker is just so much fun to watch, punishing would be tacklers, while at the same time showing his agility and finesse. It seemed that even with the Huskies game plan to shut him down, they only slowed him temporarily. While he did have a costly fumble, as per the norm Booker finished the game strong (just 42 yards at half, finished with 150 yds) including 37 yards during the crucial 5 minute 4th quarter drive that ended with TW’s second TD.
Wide Receivers & Tight Ends: C-
Without Britain Covey’s contribution (5 receptions for 69 yds) this core would’ve been given a D. The group (minus Covey) fails to get separation in their routes, and rarely if ever break a tackle. Some of this is attributed to TW’s inaccuracy in ball placement and some of it falls with the receivers going down on first contact. After Kenneth Scott’s 21 yard reception on the first play of the game he was held to just 2 more receptions, with Tyrone Smith grabbing the only other reception by a receiver, outside of 1 reception for Handley, he and Caleb Repp did nothing in the pass game.
Offensive Line: B
The offensive line went into their 2nd consecutive game without Senior Center Siaosi Aiono, and overall came out with an above average game. The Huskies, while a little bit light on the defensive front, are fast and aggressive, and for the most part the big offensive line for the Utes handled them just fine. Travis Wilson was sacked just one time, and had plenty of time to throw the ball. Devontae Booker was tackled for a few losses, but overall was provided holes for which to run through. As the game went on, the O-line stayed strong and helped wear out the Huskies.
Defensive Line: B
The strength of the Utes had a solid game against Washington, garnering 3 sacks (Lowell, Stevie T, and Fitts each getting 1) and a forced fumble (Fitts huge hit on Browning late in the 4th). Uncharacteristically the Utes got pushed around just a little more than usual but still controlled the run game giving up 160 net yards, the (fumble by the punter was -27 so 124 total yards on the ground officially) and were effective in consistently put pressure on Jake Browning.
If the D line is the strength of the Utes Defense, Gionni Paul and Jared Norris are Heart and are absolutely vital to the success of this team. Both had incredible games, once again Gionni Paul comes up huge with 9 tackles, 2 sacks, a fumble recovery for 54 yards, and a pick 6! Jared Norris was everywhere all night, 10 tackles and a forced fumble, and then of course Jason Whittingham with his standard 1 tackle :/
Despite the heavy rain the Huskies still threw the ball 39 times and were able to gather 257 yards in receptions including a huge 53 yard bomb. Now obviously the CB’s aren’t responsible for all of the 23 receptions of Huskies receivers, but overall they gave up a lot of mid to long passes (7 passes of at least 15 yards or more). While the CB’s were beat in the mid game a bit, they were fairly stout in covering short outside passes, and very effective in helping in run support.
Much like the CB’s of the Utes, the safeties had pretty much an average game. While Chase Hansen showed some great playmaking abilities in his new role, he was at times out of position (possibly overly excited as he seemed to go too far forward a few times) and took a few bad angles. But at the same time he made big plays at crucial times. Marcus Williams had a quiet game; it makes me believe that he and Chase Hansen weren’t quite comfortable and still working on their chemistry with one another.
Special Teams: B-
Outside of a missed field goal to start the game, overall the special teams were pretty solid. Hackett wasn’t his usual outstanding self, but that still means better than just about every other punter in the country. While Britain Covey didn’t rip off any enormous returns, he still consistently gave the Utes offense decent starting field position averaging 22 yards per return. The kick and punt coverage seems to have improved as well.
Offensive Coaching/Gameplan: B-
It seems to me that the while the coaches wanted to continue to be conservative in nature, they also wanted to balance the amount runs and passes. Despite the rain, in the first half they came out throwing the ball utilizing the middle of the field, from then the passes continued with short slants and WR screens hoping to have Covey break one (which he eventually did). At half time they made the adjustment to go run heavy, which paid off in the fourth quarter, when they had simply worn the Huskies defense out. The option game was on point for the Utes throughout most of the game.
Defensive Coaching/Gameplan: B+
Rush 4 and let the talent do what it does. While the Utes sprinkled in some blitzes, they appeared to be comfortable with just letting the front 4 get pressure, allowing the linebackers to be play makers, and trusting the DB’s to not get beat deep. It was a bend don’t break mentality for the Utes ; as they seemed okay with giving up short and intermediate pass plays while keeping the receivers in front of the safeties. Once again an emphasis was put on creating turnovers for the Utes, however the DB’s did not seem to try and risk jumping routes as much as they have in other games this year. Solid game winning performance by the D as a whole.
Brady Quinn was as bad as his NFL Career.