I know this post is a few days late but I just recently got back from being out of the country and had my first chance to watch this game last night.
I give the offense a B because in all reality they really didn’t show much versus ISU. The 2nd and 3rd strings played a majority of the game and the packages and plays that were called were pretty vanilla. It’s obvious the Utes made the right call in selecting Travis Wilson as the starting QB over Kendall Thompson. Wilson clearly outplayed Thompson and also looked a lot more
comfortable out on the field. I still would like to see some packages installed for Thompson because he definitely is a threat with his scrambling abilities but Wilson is far superior and it isn’t even close.
The Running Backs were as advertised with Bubba Poole and DeVontae Booker providing the 1-2 punch. They showed why they are going to be a dangerous duo for the Utes this season. Troy McCormick, although he did fumble, will only continue to improve and is always a threat to make something big happen with the ball in his hands.
Dres Anderson continued his stellar play from last season with another 100yd performance to lead all receivers. The return of Kenneth Scott was another high point for the Utes. The Wide Receiver group is a lot deeper than last season and I think there will be a lot of guys who step up to have some breakout games. Westlee Tonga, if he can stay healthy, is going to catch a lot of balls for the Utes this season. He was a favorite target of Wilson in game 1 and with teams keying on Anderson and Scott, Tonga will be relied upon a lot.
The Offensive Line played well most of the game, but they did have some breakdowns as well. Chalk it up to being the first game but expect them to continue to gel and improve each week. The key for the O Line will be protecting Wilson and giving him enough time to make his reads when they start to face superior defenses. With the amount of talent and depth on the Utes Offense this season, if they can put it all together and stay healthy, they could be really special.
Outside of the play of the Defensive Ends and the Linebackers, I have to give the Defense overall a C-. Allowing a running back to gain 133yds makes me a little bit nervous for when the Utes start to face some big name RBs. Orchard and Dimick on the ends were complete beasts and the linebacking core was fairly solid.
The interior of the line is what concerns me the most but I have a feeling the Utes will be able to figure that out before long because they have a history of doing so. Another concern for me is the Defensive Backs.
Like last season tackling seemed to still be a problem as well as was finding the ball in the air. The lack of takeaways against ISU is also concerning. I expected the Utes to be able to get at least 1-2 interceptions and snatch up 1-2 fumbles but neither happened. The bottom line is I expected more from the Defense than just a few good series. I know this was the first game but there are still some key positions that need to be figured out in my opinion: Interior of the D Line, Corner opposite Rowe and Free Safety as Tevin Carter just looked lost out there.
Special Teams: A+
There’s not much I can say, the Special Teams was simply special for the Utes. Andy Phillips is automatic, Tom Hackett is money and Kaelin Clay is electric. The special teams will be key to the Utes winning or losing some games this season, mark my word.
The first game is always interesting and a lot of teams don’t show much in regards to opening up the playbook. Young guys typically get some playing time in blowouts and there are mistakes that are made but getting a W is always the most important thing good, bad or ugly. The Utes got the W and that is all that matters. There are a lot of things that need to be improved upon but I know the Utes and Coach Whitt will make those adjustments and continue to improve week in and week out. I look forward to seeing a much improved team against Fresno State this Saturday especially Defensively.