Air Force report card

It wasn't a perfect game, but the Utes managed to win a tough roadie. This week gets easier, so hopefully they can improve on their mistakes from Saturday's contest. 

Offense: B - I don't think the offensive play calling was bad Saturday, however, the execution, at last in the second quarter, was. Luckily, the Utes regrouped, or it could have been a stinging defeat. Yet they can't allow the victory to mask their true deficiencies on offense, especially Brian Johnson's inability to handle any type of pressure from the opponent's defense. That kept this grade lower and nearly cost them the game, so that is definitely something Johnson needs to work on. If he fixes it and doesn't go down nearly as much when the opposing team blitzes, this offense will be deadly, but he needs to execute for that to happen. 

I also have to give a shout out to Darrell Mack and Matt Asiata, who are just two suburb running backs. This offense has a lot of weapons and it's a big reason why the Utes could contend for the BCS this year. 

Defense: B+ - Utah's defense played extremely well, which has been the case all season long. I was concerned with Air Force's offense, but the Utes kept it in check and if it weren't for some offensive woes early, this very well could have been a blowout. The thing keeping this from an A, though, was Brice McCain's inability to defend in the secondary. It wasn't as if the Falcons carved up Utah through their passing game, but on big plays, Shea Smith found a man down field nearly every time they needed a large gain.

Special Teams: B - They worked on the punt returns it looks like, because the Utes didn't turn the ball over once on a return. That's huge, because Air Force is a team that will beat you if you make those types of mistakes. I didn't give them an A because Louie Sakoda did miss two field goals, which was pretty shocking with how automatic he is, but it's nice to see they didn't fumble away the returns like they did against Utah State.

Coaches:

  • Andy Ludwig: A - I think Andy Ludwig called a great game, especially on that final drive. The Utes found a nice balance between the air and the ground and rarely got cute, but most importantly, he did not panic at the half. Sometimes Ludwig likes to throw out half the gameplan and either go too aggressive or too conservative, Saturday, he called it just right. 
  • Gary Andersen: A - The defense held Air Force to a 28 year low in terms of rushing yards and completely halted their option. You can't ask for more than that. Yes, Smith had some long passes, but they didn't kill Utah and that's all that counts. 
  • Kyle Whittingham: A-minus - We knew the Falcons were capable of beating the Utes, so the fact they left Colorado Springs with a victory is huge. But most importantly, the Utes did not collapse when everything was going wrong. That's a sign of a good coached team and I feel that maybe Whittingham has finally moved past McBriding a game. But we'll see.
The Utes could have played better and in fact, should have played better, but they still managed to win. There are some concerns, but Utah is playing well and now have an opponent they should easily defeat. A victory over Weber State won't be huge, but it'll give Utah a 5-0 start and some momentum heading into their biggest game of the season against Oregon State at home.
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