Week 5 of the College Football season is in the rearview mirror and with that we are beginning to get some clarity on who teams around the state of Utah and Pac 12 Conference are this season.
Utah is a team that is still hard to get a read on because of their unbalanced looks on offense through four games. The message from Utah heading into the bye week, then to Washington State was to find an “offensive identity”. Through one half of football on the Palouse Saturday it appeared they found that identity in a strong running attack that led to 154 yards and 3 touchdowns all on the ground. Zack Moss, though clearly not 100%, found his way to 57 yards and Tyler Huntley 87 yards. All looked good heading into the final 30 minutes at Martin Stadium, then it wasn’t. Utah’s Offense hit a wall, managing only 50 yards rushing and 58 yards passing, which led to a grand total of 3 points and a 28-24 loss to Wazzu. As is generally the case, in life and sports, this isn’t a black and white issue much more gray.
— KYLE F GUNTHER (@GuntherESPN700) October 1, 2018
What you didn’t see in the video was Whittingham saying that Washington State didn’t do anything specific or different defensively in the 2nd half. If that is indeed the case, the offensive issues in the 2nd half fall squarely on execution.
New Season and same conundrum for Utah Football on offense four games into the season. They still have yet to be able to find the right balance of run and pass consistently to win close games against good competition. 118 yards passing will not get it done in most leagues, even with an elite defense and special teams and won’t ever get it done consistently in the Pac 12. It’s clear that Utah’s offense strength is still in the ground game and the first half game plan was spot on against Washington State. Troy Taylor has to figure out how to get more production from his #throwgame when team’s adjust to the ground attack or things slow up, otherwise Utah will face a long season.
Utah By the Numbers
1. Despite giving up 445 yards though the air on Saturday to Gardiner Minshew and Washington State, the Utah Defense was good and did enough to set the team up to win. Morgan Scalley’s Defense got better and better as the game went along. Washington State scored it’s third touchdown of the game at the 9:03 mark of the 2nd quarter and didn’t score again until 4:14 remained in the game. That’s 34 minutes and 49 seconds of actual game time.
2. Saturday’s loss marks the 8th loss in the last 10 Pac 12 Games for Utah and drops Tyler Huntley’s record as a starter in Pac 12 Games to 2-5.
3. Saturday marked just the 2nd time in the Pac 12 Era for Utah that they won the turnover margin but lost the game. Utah was +1 on Saturday. The other loss came against Washington State at home in 2014, 28-27, when Utah was +2.
1. Zack Moss-Clearly not 100% on Saturday in Pullman, Moss was a warrior carrying the ball 30 times for 106 yards and a touchdown. Here’s hoping he’s actually closer to 100% this week and gets 30+ touches again.
2. Bradlee Anae-Anae and his defensive line mates had a tough task Saturday knowing they’d be rushing the passer 50 times or more. Anae registered 4 tackles and a 1 1/2 sacks, plus kept constant pressure on the Wazzu QB all afternoon.
3. Mitch Wishnowsky-Utah’s All American Aussie did what he did best, namely flip the field and pin Washington State deep in their own end on multiple occasions. His 42.2 average on 6 kicks doesn’t properly tell the story of his day. 3 of those kicks started Wazzu at or inside their own 10 yard line.