Three games in. Three less than satisfying performances from start to finish. Three wins.
After an ugly first twenty minutes where the Utes trailed 10-6, were losing the battle at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, and couldn't convert red zone trips into touchdowns on two separate trips, Utah put things together on both sides of the ball and ran away from San Jose State behind an impressive running game and a dominant defense.
The offensive line was great for two and a half quarters. Absolute maulers out there with Garrett Bolles and Jackson Barton continually abusing would be tacklers. The first quarter and a half? The group was a disaster. Ups and downs again, but thankfully for the Utes, more ups, and they finished strong in wearing out San Jose State's porous front 7. Why it takes awhile to get going for this group is a bit head scratching, and the brilliance we've seen at times is promising, but they need to put it together for four quarters at some point. Still, we saw dominant stretches, so we know what they can be.
The running game started slow, but that was because of the offensive line. Once the line started going, the running game dominated as the Utes went for over 200 yards as a group. Zack Moss and Armand Shyne are the power duo we hoped they'd be with Troy McCormick still making guys miss repeatedly while catching balls out of the backfield. Moss looks like he could handle 20 carries a game, and while Shyne isn't going to run past anyone, he'll try to run over anyone. In the first week without Joe Williams, they got the job done.
Troy Williams had a sneaky good performance in going 20 for 28 for 253 yards and a touchdown. His one faux pas was a forced interception near the goal-line, giving him 4 picks on the season. Can't make throw, but Williams managed the game well and was efficient with the deep ball, getting his top two receivers in Tim Patrick and Cory Butler-Byrd involved to the tune of 11 catches for 187 yards and a touchdown combined. Patrick looks like one of the top receivers in the Pac 12 and Butler-Byrd adds a dynamic dimension that the Utes have not yet had this season.
Another week and another dominant defensive performance. Morgan Scalley called a great game after a first 20 or so of slight struggles. The pass rush was dominant, racking up 10 sacks and consistently delivering big hits on San Jose State's defense. San Jose State's solid run game was held in check to the tune of only 56 yards on 32 carries. The linebackers were brought time and time again on the blitz, not getting home every time, but occupying blockers and confusing offensive linemen for the Spartans to open things up for others. Outside of a few Brian Allen penalties, hard to pick apart anything from the secondary as they came up with two interceptions via Reggie Porter and Marcus Williams. These guys just keep doing what they do.
Will the slow starts do them in once Pac 12 plays takes hold this week? At some point, yes, but for now the Utes are finding a way in each game to eventually flex their superior size, speed, and skill. We can sit here and gripe about the slow start, the offensive line issues to start, the turnovers, and the play calling on offense at times, but the Utes are still 3-0. This team is in a bit of a transition with the running game and JJ Dielman is still figuring out the center spot. If you're expecting perfection each week, look somewhere else. If winning in a less than perfect manner each week gets this team to another 10 win season, Kyle Whittingham will happily oblige. Maybe THIS is Utah football.