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Position grades: Utah vs. Washington.

UteZone evaluates the performance for each position group in their loss to #4 Washington

Offensive Position Grades

Quarterback: B

We all know that Troy Williams wanted a win versus his old team very badly, he competed until the very end to try and accomplish that and came up just a bit short of that. It was obvious that Troy came out a little more juiced than normal as he was erratic with his throws, and he didn’t really settle in until the 2nd half. I give Williams a better grade this week compared to last week even though his numbers were a little worse, because of what he did in that 2nd half. Washington is a very good defensive team on all levels, but especially in the defensive secondary and were making life very difficult for the receivers. He made throws in some unbelievably tight windows, which weren’t because they were bad decisions, but that’s just how small the window was with this Washington secondary. 

Running Backs: A-

I’m pretty sure there were questions about Joe’s actual ability since coming back and whether his last two games were flukes or not. Today squashed any remaining doubts. This is 3rd game in a row of 170+ yards, let that sink in a bit - 3 straight games of ONE HUNDRED SEVENTY PLUS YARDS - that is unbelievable. And it wasn’t the homerun plays we saw last week, these yards were hard-earned-bring-your-lunch pale kind of yards. He was reading things very well and was very quick in his decisions at the line of scrimmage. When he got to the 2nd level, he either showed off that burst with a nice cut or he put his head down and fought for every yard he could. This was a very physical showing from Joe Williams today. 

Wide Receivers & Tight Ends: B

Tim Patrick is unbelievable. He is clearly still not 100% and going up against the best cornerback in the league, he performed admirably and better than most receivers have all year, he ended with 5 catches for 72 yards. Siaosi Wilson caught his first touchdown of the year, and seems to be entering the conversation for 3rd option on the team. It’s clear though, Cory Butler-Byrd’s playmaking ability was sorely missed today. Evan Moeai had his ups and downs, but he was big in the passing game catching 4 passes for 61 yards and 1 touchdown. 

Offensive Line: B

Today’s matchup was quite the contrast to last week’s bout with UCLA, as Washington is very big and stout upfront. The offensive line did not let down in their run-blocking as they cleared paths for Joe to have another big day. To go with that, they only allowed 1 sack to a defense that is known for getting pressure on the quarterback. The mental mistakes have to stop though. The line had some penalties that ended up killing drives, that has to stop, and with 3 weeks left in the season, I don’t know that it does. 

Defensive Position Grades

Defensive Line: C+

The best way to describe the play of Utah’s defensive line is inconsistent. By and large, the line did well on pass plays, helping to make Browning uncomfortable for much of the night. Hunter Dimick and Pita Taumoepenu both had sacks for the Utes, both of which came on third down. However, the line wasn’t nearly as dominant against the run as it has been in past weeks, especially in the second half. The Huskies averaged 5.5 yards per carry for the game, and the defensive line shoulders at least part of the responsibility for not doing enough to slow down the Washington run game.

Linebackers: D+

In a game where Washington rushed the ball 33 times, the linebackers only came up with 6 tackles between them. A combination of over-aggressive pursuit taking them out of position, missed tackles, poor angles, and Washington’s offensive line getting to the second level limited the linebacker corps’ effectiveness and led to big gains in the Washington run game. Washington’s top two backs averaged more than 7.5 yards per carry, with a bulk of their success coming in the second half. The defensive line didn’t do a lot to help eat up blocks, but the linebackers have to find a way to make plays – especially on first and second down.  

Cornerbacks: B

Utah’s corners did a much better job this week preventing the Huskies from beating them over the top. Aside from a 26 yard reception from Chico McClatcher and a 38 yarder from Darrell Daniels, the Ute corners limited Washington’s chunk plays on the outside. John Ross had two touchdown catches, but even he had a substandard game from what he was used to. It’s unrealistic to expect the Utah secondary to be perfect against a very talented Washington passing attack, and the Ute corners did enough to help Utah earn a win.

Safeties: A-

The Ute safeties had the best performance of any position group on the Ute defense against the Huskies. Chase Hansen had another standout game at strong safety. He was all over the field, recording 9 tackles, including a TFL. He made a bone crushing hit on Jake Browning that led to a critical drive ending incompletion, and his interception got Utah back into the game in the second quarter. Jordan Fogal didn’t have the same spectacular game as Hansen, but he was solid as the Utes’ last line of defense, recorded 7 tackles himself, and helped limit big plays in the pass game.  

Special Teams Grades

Placekicking Units: A+

Andy Phillips was once again perfect on the day. His 29 yard field goal in the first half was one of the better kicks of his career. After the Utes failed to stop the clock late in the 2nd quarter, Phillips and the placekicking unit were able to rush onto the field and hit the kick before time expired. The unit was perfect when they were called upon.

Punting Units: C

Mitch Wishnowsky was once again spectacular, averaging 53.7 yards on six punts, while pinning four inside the 20. However, the punt return for a touchdown sullies what was an outstanding day for the punt unit. Missed penalties notwithstanding, the Utes missed at least two opportunities to make the tackle on Dante Pettis and prevent the go-ahead touchdown.

Kickoff Units: B+

It was a pretty average day for the kickoff units. The Utes had two touchbacks and held the Huskies’ only kickoff return to five yards. Kyle Fulks’ 34 yard kickoff return in the 4th quarter set the Utes up for a final drive that ultimately fell short. The grade is hurt by Andy Phillips’ penalty for kicking the ball out of bounds on the opening kickoff. 

Editor's Note: Steve Bartle contributed the grades for the offense

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