Utah football ended their season in style as they pulled off a come from behind victory over Indiana in the Foster Farms Bowl. The UteZone team breaks down each position group's performance in the Utes' final game of the season:
Troy Williams completed just 11 of 23 passes, though he did produce 178 yards. Williams was inaccurate all night and outside of a 21-yard scramble early in the game didn’t do much on the ground. An interception and a fumble didn’t help. Tyler Huntley raises the grade a little, as he completed his only pass of the night for 36 yards and ran for 23 yards and a touchdown on eight carries.
Running Back: C+
The raw numbers look great as Joe Williams ran for 222 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries with Zack Moss adding 19 yards. Two fourth quarter fumbles that led to seven points for the Hoosiers were inexcusable. The backs also struggled in pass protection and dropped a couple of passes. Williams had several chunk plays, with 11 runs of 10 or more yards, four runs of 20 or more yards and a 56-yard catch-and-run.
Receivers and Tight Ends: D
Dropped passes, poor routes and inability to create separation (though the Indiana corners got away with a lot of holding) combined for a brutal performance by the receivers. Demari Simpkins was the lone bright spot, catching four passes for 58 yards. The rest of the receivers combined to catch six passes for 92 yards. Tight ends did not see a target all night. On the positive side, the receivers blocked well.
Offensive Line: C-
Arguably the worst performance of the line all season as the Utes allowed five sacks (tied for a season high) and eight tackle for loss. Utah could not pick up the blitz and could not consistently open holes for the running game. Utah's interior line looked confused in pass protection and didn't get much help from the backs. Outside of a couple of long Joe Williams runs where he broke several tackles, the Indiana defensive front dominated the line-of-scrimmage.
Defensive Line: B
The defensive line continued to make plays early. Pita Taumoepenu got an early strip sack which was recovered by Hunter Dimick. Pita really had a great game, garnering 6 tackles, 4 solo, the strip-sack and another sack deep in Indiana territory. Pasoni Tasini also forced the runningback to fumble in the redzone to stop a potential score. The big paws were in air as well, batting down multiple Lagow pass attempts. Mokofisi showed up late with a huge sack for a loss of 9 yards. Indiana did find success running the football though. The line seemed to be particularly weak inside, giving up multiple 5+ yard runs. Indiana had a 117 yards on the ground and each leading back averaged 4+ yards per carry.
The linebackers really had a good game. Sunia Tauteoli and Kavika Luafatasaga both lead the team in tackles. Tauteoli really looked healthy for the first time in awhile. He was getting to the edges quickly and making the tackle. Kavika Luafatasaga was the other linebacker in the 4-2 sets and played his best game as Ute. He led the team in tackles and was menacing in the backfield with a couple of tackles-for-loss. But it was his relentless effort on the last play of the game that really stands out. For having a bit of a down-year at the position, they really showed improvement in the bowl game.
Chase Hansen left it all on the field for the final game of the season. He was really flying around in coverage, coming very close to picking of Lagow twice. The collision on the second near-interception would leave him on the sidelines for the final minutes of the game. He finished with 3 pass-breakups and 4 tackles. Marcus Williams made an early mistake by biting too hard on a run-play-fake that left a man wide open in the endzone. He also completely whiffed on a tackle that would have resulted in a touchdown if it weren’t for a Brian Allen pursuit and tackle. As expected though, Williams made a great play by picking up a receiver in the back of an endzone, forcing an incompletion. Williams also got his 5th interception of the season on an underthrown deep ball.
Due to an unspecified team rules issue, Domo Hatfield did not participate in his final game as a Ute. The Spotlite group could have used his help as they struggled throughout the game. Indiana finished the with 224 yards passing and two touchdown receptions. Every Indiana receiver that caught a pass had at least one catch of 10 yards or more. The longest was a 36 yard jump pass in the endzone with true freshman Julian Blackmon in coverage. Some poor tackling showed up again during this game as well. Reggie Porter had a bit of redemption slip through his hands on, what would have been, an easy pick-six.
Andy Phillips made all four of his field goal attempts, including a season-long 48-yarder and the game winner from 27-yards out. He also made both of his PATs, tying his season-high (and career-high) of 14 points.
Mitch Wishnowsky did not have his best game, dropping the snap on a punt and finishing with a 43.5-yard gross average and a 40.5-yard net. Utah’s coverage team was solid, holding Mitchell Paige to 12 yards on two returns. Boobie Hobbs had a decent night, breaking off a 20-yard return that led to a field goal.
Kyle Fulks’ fumble on the opening kickoff was a disaster, leading to an Indiana touchdown. He finished with 19 yards on two kick returns. Utah’s kick coverage was not much better, allowing 21.5 yards per return to a poor kick return team. Hayes Hicken had one touchback on his seven kickoffs and his last kick didn’t reach the 10-yard line.
Editor’s Note: Joel Davidson provided the grades for the defense and James Durrant provided the grades for the offense and special teams.