Utah Utes Football: What I’ve Learned Through 5 Games

Back in April, after spring football wrapped up, I gave my prediction that the Utes would go 9-4 again this season. Through the first five games I had the Utes sitting at 4-1 with their lone loss being to Oregon.

Now I sit here the second week in October and the Utes are 5-0, UNDEFEATED, #4 in the country, #1 in the Pac-12 and people are starting to take notice that this team could be another one of those “SPECIAL” teams.


Doesn’t it???

Here are 5 things I’ve learned through the first 5 games this season

1.Travis Wilson and the Quarterbacks:

Utah’s Offense just seems to run better with Wilson at the helm. His experience and his ability to be a fairly good dual-threat QB fit the offense better than any other QB on the team. That’s not to say I don’t think Kendal Thompson can add something to the table. I like Thompson’s athleticism and I think the Utes need to use him in a package or two especially around the goal line where I believe he excels the most in the read option play.

Now I know that Wilson has had some up and down games this season but he’s still the best option to lead the team. Against Oregon, Wilson was cool, confident and collected and played his most complete game as a Ute. Against Cal, Wilson struggled and looked like the unconfident Wilson that we saw all last season. In order for the Utes to keep on winning they need the Oregon Wilson to show up every week.

2. The Defense is LEGIT:

I will be the first to admit that I thought the defense might take a little bit of a step backwards with the departure of Kalani Sitake and although sacks are down for the most part this season, the Utes have improved as a whole.

The defensive line is so deep that when fresh guys come in they don’t miss a beat.

The linebacker play is as good as it gets. Norris and Paul are two of the best in the country.

The defensive backs get better every week.

Sack Lake City has become Pick Lake City as of late. Most fans remember a few seasons ago when the Utes couldn’t intercept a pass to save their lives and this season it seems like they are picking off everything thrown their way.

I still believe the sacks will pick up but I will take an interception or a fumble over a sack any day.

3. Three Way Player:

Cory Butler-Byrd has been a nice addition to this Utah team not only on defense but offense and special teams as well. I don’t think there has been a 3 way player since Eric Weddle that has made this type of impact. After watching Butler-Byrd and with the return of a dominant Dominique Hatfield, I would personally like to see Butler-Byrd moved to full time offense. The guy is a play maker and play makers need the ball in their hands so that they can make plays. Butler-Byrd has the speed to be Utah’s burner and help the offense stretch the field.


One thing that I feel the Utes could do better is get Kenneth Scott involved in the passing game more. I know Scott isn’t the fastest receiver on the team but the guy is a playmaker. No defensive back can stop him one on one and that’s evident because every time he gets one on one coverage he draws a pass interference call. Stretch the field with Scott, throw him a deep ball or two, chances are he’s coming down with it.

One thing I will say about Scott. He has been blocking his behind off for the run game but the Utes need to utilize his strengths and get him the ball more. Scott’s a 1000yd receiver on any other team and I know he’s not about stats but THROW THE MAN THE BALL PLEASE!!!

5. Defensive Backs:

The first couple of games, I’ll admit the defensive backfield scared me a little bit. They got burned a few times against Michigan, burned a few times against Utah State BUT each and every week since then they have improved greatly.

Reginald Porter is a good corner. He’s fast, he’s got some length and he can lay a lick. He will keep improving over time and as he gets more experience he will become another great corner for the U.

Cory Butler-Byrd is a good corner. Speed kills! He’s steadily improving as a corner. I know he got burned a little bit on that Cal touchdown but that also was a perfectly placed throw where no matter how good the coverage was that receiver was coming down with that pass. Like I said above, I am starting to like him more on offense because of his playmaking abilities and the reemergence of the man below.

Dominique Hatfield is Utah’s best corner. His experience, speed and playmaking abilities are bar none the best of all the defensive backs. Hatfield was the definition of a lock down corner against Cal. He literally locked down their best receiver and took him out of the game plus he got two picks. What a story of redemption!

Tevin Carter is a very good safety but he didn’t have his best game against Cal. Carter looked slow at times (not sure if he was 100% healthy) and continually got beat by #89 across the middle. That being said, Carter is still one of the best safeties in the country and a big reason why the Utes D is so successful. I expect BIG things from him the rest of the season.

Marcus Williams will go down as one of the best safeties to play at the U when his career is done. Williams put in work during the off season and it has shown this season in the way he has played.

Those are 5 things I’ve learned/observations through 5 games.

What 5 things have you learned?

What are your 5 observations?

The Utes still have a bunch of tough games left on their schedule starting this weekend against Arizona State and as good as 5-0 feels, 6-0 would feel even better especially against the Sun Devils and their fans!!!


About the author

Patrick Thomsen

Co-Host for the Ute Talk Podcast. Husband, Father and Life-Long Utah Fan!!! #GoUtes
Follow me on Twitter @patrickt30 and follow Ute Talk @utetalkpodcast

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  • I was at the game sitting right behind the Utah bench, about 20 rows up. A one point in the 3rd quarter, Tevin Carter limped off the field and sat out a couple of series (Godfrey took his place) while the trainers checked him out on the table right in front of us. Not sure, but it looked like a hamstring or a groin issue. He eventually went back in, but was noticeably hobbled. Hopefully, not a serious issue. I watched the game later on tv and was surprised the announces never even mentioned his absence.