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Position grades: Utah vs. Arizona

UteZone breaks down the performance of each position group in Utah's homecoming win over Arizona

Offensive Position Grades

Quarterback: A-

It’s not going to look the prettiest, but my goodness, Troy Williams played well tonight. He ended the game completing 13 of 29 passes and accounted for 318 total yards (245 passing, 73 rushing) and 3 total touchdowns (1 passing, 2 rushing). He wasn’t helped very much by his receivers, but we never saw him get upset or demonstrative, he stayed cool and continued to throw to his guys. Then, after Shyne went down, the staff put the ball in his hands and called QB runs, time and time again to finish the game. 

Running Backs: B

My goodness, you just feel gutted for Armand. It looked like he was asserting himself as the starter on this team and played well all night until he went down with what we believe to be a season ending injury. Armand is a great kid, and will be back better than ever. The running game took some time to get going, but they did and ended the night with 210 yards and 3 touchdowns, 101 yards from Armand and 32 from walk-on Jordan Howard, who looked all right in his few carries. Here’s to a week of major recovery for this group.

Wide Receivers & Tight Ends: C-

This group struggled at times with drops, but the tight ends and Butler-Byrd deserve a B+ grade though. They were able to draw some pass interference penalties, but this wide receiver group is really not too impressive without Tim Patrick. There were some good moments, like Tyrone Smith’s one-handed touchdown grab was pretty impressive, and Demari Simpkins also made an impressive catch early on, but there needs to be more consistency here.

Offensive Line: C

What in the world was going on that first half? I have never seen that before in all my years watching this sport, it was unbelievable. It does sound like Arizona was getting away with mimicking the snap cadence, but it shouldn’t have got to the point that it did. The O Block pressed on though and asserted their dominance over the Arizona defensive front. The mental mistakes have to be cleaned up, but this still looks to be a solid group moving forward despite the loss of JJ Dielman. 

Defensive Position Grades

Defensive Line: B+

The defensive line didn’t record any sacks on the night, but they did a good job of maintaining their pass rush lanes and limiting the Arizona quarterbacks’ ability to beat the Utah defense with the run. Pasoni Tasini kickstarted Utah’s run with an outstanding rush to tackle Dawkins in the end zone for a safety. Hunter Dimick and Filipo Mokofisi also had strong games, and both finished the game with 8 tackles apiece.

Linebackers: B

They didn’t start the game on a high note, but the linebackers played reasonably well for a good part of the game. Kavika Luafatasaga and Sunia Tauteoli played a bulk of the reps, with Luafatasaga finishing the game with seven tackles. Arizona only averaged 3.4 yards per rush on the night, and the Utes did a good job limiting chunk plays in the ground game by making tackles before the Wildcats could get past the second level.

Cornerbacks: C-

Although they came up with two interceptions (Brian Allen and Domo Hatfield), the secondary gave up an atrocious 348 passing yards on the night. Even worse, Arizona receivers averaged 21.75 yards per reception on the night, with a majority of the yards coming on broken coverages or on 50/50 deep balls down the sideline. That’s two consecutive weeks where Utah has been beat over the top on multiple bi plays. That has to be fixed.

Safeties: A

Chase Hansen had one of the better games of his career, finishing with nine tackles, one TFL, and laying a vicious legal hit that enabled Marcus William’s interception. Williams was fantastic once again and made two big plays - a TFL against Khalil Tate that stalled a promising drive and his acrobatic interception that was one of the defensive plays of the year for the Utes.

Special Teams Position Grades

Kickoff Units: B+

The kickoff and return units both had solid games. Five of Utah’s seven kickoffs were touchbacks, and Wildcats’ two returns only averaged 18.5 yards. Cory Butler-Byrd averaged 28.6 yards per return.

Punting Units: A

Mitch Wishnowksi was magnificent once again. Six punts for 300 yards (a 50 yard per punt average), with five being placed inside the 20.  His punt that was downed at the one led to the safety that turned the momentum of the game. In a unique twist, Boobie Hobbs didn’t return any of Arizona’s four punts.

Placekicking Units: A

Andy Phillips was perfect on the night, hitting field goals from 28 and 35 yards, while also hitting four PATs.

Editor's note: Steve Bartle provided the offensive grades. 

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