This was an ugly game, and probably more difficult to gauge how much the weather actually affected things than what we could see, but man this was a difficult game to stomach. Things were limited as Troy Williams only completed 4 of 13 passes, and most of the incompletions were due to inaccurate throws and not drops like we’ve been accustomed to the past few weeks. Williams did do a fair amount of damage on the ground with 40 rushing yards and 1 touchdown on 15 carries, but it felt like he left some yards on the field. There were times where Williams seemed to struggle with decision making today, but some of that could be attributed to disappointing play calling that didn’t seem to put guys in the best position to succeed.
Running Backs: B+
Welcome back, Joe Williams! What a pleasant surprise it was to watch him not only run the ball, but how he ran today! He was embracing contact & running hard through it, he looked nothing like the Joe Williams of a few weeks ago. He ended up running an impressive 34 times for 179 yards and 1 touchdown. Game ball goes to No. 28. Williams still has some things that need to be worked on like short yardage carries, but he looked much better than I believe any of us expected. Cory Butler-Byrd also chipped in with 10 carries and 54 yards and looked good getting to the edge and creating yards.
Wide Receivers & Tight Ends: C
I almost want to give an Incomplete grade. I mean, did we even need to field receivers not named Butler-Byrd this week? There were four completions and CBB had 2 of them, the other two went to Singleton & Simpkins. We would’ve loved to see them more involved in the game, but again, how much did the weather affect things? Not being on the field at the time, we don’t really know. We also would have loved to see better effort blocking on some of those swing passes, but when the defense knows what is coming, they can tee off and blow things up pretty easily.
Offensive Line: B-
The mental mistakes continue to be a major problem for this unit. After last week’s mess, you had to hope those kinds of errors would be cleaned up, but they continue to rear their ugly head. With the next two weeks vs UCLA and Washington, they absolutely have to clean them up and play their best ball of the season. The line was able to open holes and get push in the run game to the tune of 275 yards on 60 carries, but they were also stuffed on short yardage downs way too many times. This unit needs to get things together and work towards playing the best ball of the season if the Utes are to have any shot at a division title.
Defensive Line: B
Oregon State’s offense was clearly scheming to take the ball wide in an attempt to steer clear of Utah’s offensive line. The D Cock unit did well stuffing the run up the middle, and aside from two big runs did a good job containing Garretson before he went down to injury. Filipo Mokofisi’s strip sack in the fourth quarter was a turning point in the second half, and was a big reason behind the win.
The linebacker corps took a big hit when Sunia Tauteoli went down, and the Oregon State offense went on the attack. The Beavers chewed up huge chunks of yardage in the second half, attacking the edges with Victor Bolden and Paul Lucas, both of whom averaged more than seven yards per carry. There were stretches where the group made solid plays, but they were too inconsistent in the second half, which contributed to the Beaver comeback. Cody Barton was the groups leading tackler, with seven tackles in the game.
For a secondary that only allowed 100 passing yards on the game, a B might seem a little low, but the ease with which the Beavers moved the ball through the air in the late 3rd and 4th quarters lowers the grade a bit. Justin Thomas and Domo Hatfield were both active on Saturday, and both had reasonably good games. Brian Allen had an interception taken away on a somewhat questionable pass interference penalty.
Chase Hansen had another outstanding game from the strong safety spot, leading the Utes with eight tackles, including a key first quarter sack. His interception in the first quarter capped one of the best quarters of football that any Ute defender has had this season. Backup free safety Jordan Fogal had one of his better performances as a Ute, as he stepped in after Marcus Williams went down with an injury and recorded seven tackles and a forced fumble. The safeties weren’t as dynamic after Williams went down, but they did enough to help secure the win.
Special Teams Grades
Punt Units: B
Mitch Wishnowsky was solid kicking in very rough weather conditions for a punter. His average of 42.2 yards per kick was shorter than it has been, but he did pin the Beaver offense deep in their own territory twice. Boobie Hobbs had a pretty uneventful day returning punts, with only 10 yards on three returns. Victor Bolden, who is a major threat in the return game was held to a single return for two yards.
Kickoff Units: B
Hayes Hicken had a hit or miss day, with two touchbacks and an out of bounds penalty on his four kickoffs. The lone kickoff return by the ever-dangerous Bolden only yielded 15 yards. Utah’s only kickoff return came at the hands of Cory Butler-Byrd, who scrambled for 27 yards before getting knocked out of bounds on the kick return following the safety.
Placekicking Units: A
Andy Phillips was perfect on the day, kicking a 25 yarder in the first half when the weather was nasty and hitting both PAT attempts.
Editor’s Note: Steve Bartle contributed the offensive grades.