Utah wrapped up the weekend at 2-0 after an offensive struggle at Northern Illinois, with a 17-6 final score. It’s the sixth straight season that Utah has started the season with back to back wins. Now the “price of poker” goes up for the Utes as they open Pac 12 play on Saturday night at home against 10th ranked Washington.
Before we take a look around the Pac 12 from the weekend and look ahead to the Husky’s let me give you a few final thoughts on the Huskies…
1. Chase Hansen-Named Pac 12 Defensive Player of the Week for his performance in DeKalb. 12 tackles, two sacks, a fumble recovery and interception return for a touchdown. Right now Hansen is Utah’s best player and he’s made the transition from safety to linebacker look seemless.
2. Tyler Huntley-It’s interesting how much grief, a Quarterback who completes 65% of his passes and throws for nearly 300 yards, gets. Huntley wasn’t perfect on Saturday night, but in the face of a pass rush that got him six times and a wide receiver group that dropped the ball five times, his numbers and effort were very good. He’ll need to be even better this Saturday against UW.
I visited with Huntley from Monday’s Utah Press Conference and here’s the conversation.
Kyle Whittingham was clearly frustrated by his team’s offensive efforts and production from Saturday. Below is how he opened his Monday Press Conference…
— KYLE F GUNTHER (@GuntherESPN700) September 10, 2018
What Needs Fixing
1.Pass Protection-Utah’s offensive line surrendered six sacks Saturday night. In their defense, Sutton Smith is one of the best pass rushers in the nation, but NIU didn’t do anything exotic. Utah’s Front Five simply didn’t adjust to the task at hand. Utah may not see another pass rusher the quality of Smith this season but they will certainly see better defensive lines in the Pac 12 and in particular this weekend against Washington. Jim Harding did it a year ago and it looks like he’ll have to do it again today.
2. Dropped Passes-Utah has played two games and dropped eight passes by our un-official count. Guy Holliday’s WR Unit faced similar issues last season and he got those problems fixed. He’ll need to do the same thing this season.
Husky’s Take Two
Washington heads to Utah a 1-1 and coming off a 45-3 thrashing of North Dakota in Seattle last weekend. Much like the rest of the Pac 12 and really college football, it’s hard to tell exactly how good Chris Petersen’s team is right now. They lost an ugly defensive battle in Atlanta against 9th ranked Auburn in Week 1. It was a game that Washington had a chance to win but missed it’s opportunities. One thing is for certain, they are well coached, experienced at QB and might have the only secondary better than Utah’s in the Pac 12.
Utah vs. Washington Since 2015
I don’t think that anyone in the Pac 12 North or South has played Washington closer or better than Utah has in the last three years. The average margin of victory between the schools in the last three match ups has been seven points, with Utah winning in 2015 by 11 and Washington winning by seven and three points in 2016 and 2017. In those match up’s Utah is a (+1) in the turnover margin. Heading into this year’s match up Utah is dead last in turnover margin at (-4) and Washington is tied for tenth at (-3).
Pac 12 Power Six Week 2
Every Monday I’ll give you my read on the Top Six Teams in the Conference of Champions.
1. Stanford-David Shaw’s team is 2-0 and opened their Pac 12 slate by shutting down USC 17-3 on the “Farm” last Saturday night.
2. Washington-The only team in the Power Six with a loss, but that doesn’t diminish the talent on this team and the loss was to a Top Ten team on the road.
3. Arizona State-I must apologize, at least for now, to Herm Edwards and the Devils. I didn’t think much of the hire and was a little taken aback by our conversation at Pac 12 Media Day, but through two weeks he’s proven my doubts wrong. Big win over a nationally ranked Michigan State team in the desert on Saturday night.
4. Colorado-The Buffs have hammered an in-state rival and beaten an old conference rival in back to back weeks. Neither game was at home. Not sure how good the Buffs are yet, but they’ve done enough through two weeks.
5. Oregon-It’s not who the Ducks have beaten, because they haven’t beaten a good team, but rather how they’ve beaten them. 120 points in two games is impressive. We’ll know a lot more in two weeks when they host Stanford.
6. Utah-Undefeated and Defensively dominant. This week will tell us a lot more about Kyle Whittingham’s Team.
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