The University of Utah opened up the 2016 season with a 24-0 win over Southern Utah.
SALT LAKE CITY—The good news for the Utah Utes: They started the 2016 season 1-0, and Troy Williams looked sharp in the Utes’ revamped passing attack en route to Utah’s 24-0 win over the Southern Utah Thunderbirds.
The bad news for the Utes: they struggled to move the ball most of the night against an FCS foe, and the offensive line has some work to do.
“It wasn’t exactly what I expected,” head coach Kyle Whittingham said. “We never were really not in control of the game, but we never had complete control of the game. It was tougher to score than I anticipated it would be.”
Wide receiver Tim Patrick was excited to get his first receiving touchdown out of the way. “I felt we should have done way better as an offense today, though,” Patrick added.
Utah’s opening drive included a 52-yard Williams completion to Raelon Singleton as part of a nine-play, 67-yard drive. The Ute offense stalled in the red zone, resulting in an Andy Phillips field goal to put Utah on the scoreboard.
But that was all the home side would get until late in the half. Their next three drives went only 79 yards, ending in a missed field goal and a pair of punts.
The restless Rice-Eccles Stadium crowd was finally appeased when Troy McCormick found the left side of the end zone to put his team up 10 points.
Asked if the offensive production was what he wanted, Troy Williams shrugged. “Not quite, exactly,” he said. “We were able to pull it together and get a groove going towards the end. We came out with the win. That’s all that matters.”
Following McCormick’s touchdown, the Utes defense stamped out another SUU drive, forcing a three-and-out with a punt. The offense kicked into gear again, driving down the field in four quick plays for 37 yards, culminating in a Williams’ teardrop fade to Patrick in the left corner of the end zone for his aforementioned first score.
The Utes met another scoring drought, failing to move the ball more than 13 yards on three of the next four drives. The second drive of the half went 63 yards on eight plays, but Joe Williams awoke last year’s ball security monster, fumbling the ball away to the Thunderbirds.
The Utes defense slammed the door on SUU’s ensuing drive, forcing a punt. Patrick decided he hadn’t had enough fun, and beat his defender deep down the right side of the field, and picked up a 57-yard rainbow pass from Troy Williams for a walk-in touchdown.
Utah’s defensive effort snuffed out the Thunderbirds’ offensive attack, resulting in only seven first downs and 158 total yards of offense, including just 42 passing yards. Marcus Williams trekked across the field in the second quarter to pick off SUU backup quarterback Tannon Pedersen’s pass to the right sideline. The Utes also nabbed three sacks from the defensive line. New starter Cody Barton led the tackling effort with eleven takedowns, including one for a loss. Linebacker mate Sunia Tauteoli brought down seven Thunderbirds.
The rushing attack left a lot to be desired for the Utes, who totaled 138 yards on 37 attempts. Troy McCormick battled his way to 55 rushing yards, but the offensive line admittedly underperformed. Starting running back Joe Williams netted 49 yards rushing.
Next game, the competition level amps up considerably as Brigham Young comes into Rice-Eccles Stadium. The Cougars are facing the Arizona Wildcats in Phoenix on Saturday. Whittingham said if the Utes plan on beating their rivals from Provo, they have to get better.
Kyle Whittingham Postgame Press Conference:
Troy Williams, Tim Patrick, Marcus Williams, Troy McCormick Postgame:
Troy Williams on Utah Sports Network Postgame:
Hunter Dimick on Utah Sports Network Postgame:
Kyle Whittingham on Utah Sports Network Postgame:
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