This was a weird game. Maybe that's fitting, since it took place on Halloween. I don't know. I can't say I was disappointed with the Utes' performance. I felt the Cowboys offered a defensive test and was fairly confident they wouldn't score much on Utah. They didn't. In fact, the Utes held them below their season average.
What I didn't like was that, once again, Utah failed to put together a solid four-quarter game. There hasn't been one yet and we're winding down the 2009 season. That either means we're poised for one in the coming weeks, or it's never going to happen and most likely will result in a loss. I'm hoping it's the former.
Regardless of those issues, though, the Utes are 7-1. Not a bad start. It's about where most of us felt Utah would be at this point in the season. They've avoided ugly losses (2005 and 2006 come to mind) and for that, the consistency might suggest we're moving beyond those struggles and actually putting together reloading seasons instead of rebuilding ones. You know, because you can't really call 7-5 reloading - but you surely can call 11-2 or 12-1 that.
The grades after the jump...
Offense: B - I'm going to probably go against the grain here. The offense wasn't that bad. Just look at the yards they racked up. Sure, there are issues and those issues cost them a higher grade (and a bigger win), but both Terrance Cain and Jordan Wynn were good when it came to passing (both combined to go 20 of 28 for 211 yards) and that has to count for something.
Eddie Wide was also his amazing self. He tied the school record for consecutive games (5) with 100 or more yards and was instrumental in sparking the Utes' offense in the second half.
Of course, the story of the night was at quarterback. Cain, who went 10 of 13 for 121 yards, was pulled by Kyle Whittingham at the half and replaced by true freshman Jordan Wynn. Wynn, playing in his first game ever at any level of college, stepped up and threw a touchdown, while finishing the night completing 9 of 14 passes for 82-yards.
The performance wasn't the greatest Utah has seen this season and things will need to improve if they're going to beat either TCU or BYU, but it was a step in the right direction I think. Especially when you consider the offense is now not just transitioning from one quarterback to another, but now changing who calls the plays up in the box.
Defense: A - The Cowboys' offense is not good. I said as much in the preview and was backed up by their performance Saturday. Even so, I think Utah's defense did what they needed to do. For starters, they held Wyoming below their point total on the season and only allowed 202 total yards. That isn't bad and well below the Pokes' average on the season (312.8 after Utah's win).
They also shut out the Cowboys in the second half. Any time you do that, you're doing something right.
Special Teams: B - It started badly for Joe Phillips, as he missed a 43-yard field goal (his first miss of the season). However, he stepped up and connected on three the remainder of the game. There were also no fumbles on the punt returns and most of Utah's punts sailed down field and pinned the Cowboys deep - especially in the second half.
- Aaron Roderick: B - I wasn't impressed with the first half, but I think Utah changed it up a bit in the second. For his first game in the box calling plays (though I do think Dave Schramm had the final say), he did a good job. Whittingham suggests he won't become Utah's new OC. But he's in the box and calling plays - isn't that what he is, regardless of title?
- Kalani Sitake: B-plus - The defense was good. I've been impressed with how the defense has progressed this season. I'd still like to see a few more big plays, but Saturday you saw glimpses of it. R.J. Stanford had an interception and Austyn Carta-Samuels was sacked five times.
- Kyle Whittingham: B-plus - Maybe I'm being a bit extreme here, but I think Whittingham has produced his best coaching job ever. With what he was dealt in terms of injury and turnover, it's pretty impressive this team is 7-1. Sure, their schedule hasn't been great, but four years ago, losing those games undid Utah's first rebuilding season under him. That hasn't been the case this season.