Okay, so it wasn't a perfect game. I guess it's impossible to expect flawless play for twelve consecutive weeks. Regardless, Utah won and did so in dominant fashion and that's all that matters, right?
It was obvious really early the Utes weren't content with bulldozing their way to a blowout win. This was one of the first games where the team relied far more on the ground game than anything else. Maybe that was Jordan Wynn's early interception or just the mindset of the coaches. Regardless, it probably kept the score lower than it eventually should have been.
The win, though, didn't seem to hurt Utah. Unlike last week, they moved up in the rankings and started a better-than-expected ninth in the BCS.
But there are things to improve on and I expect that's exactly what they're doing this week leading up to the game against Colorado State.
The grades after the jump...
Offense: B - The offense wasn't bad, as they finished the game with 431 yards. I had no problem with the play calling - but the turnovers were an issue. Wynn threw for three interceptions and all probably cost the Utes points. You convert those picks into scores and the Utes win this game 44-0. A much better score and one we've come to expect from this year's team.
Even so, the performance wasn't awful. Utah established a ground game early and finished with 188 yards rushing. Their offense imposed its dominance on the Cowboys often and really only let up when it was apparent the Utes were going to win.
Still, lots to clean up. Hopefully they can do that this week.
Defense: B-plus - I thought the defense played well. They held the Cowboys to only 183 yards of total offense and kept them out of the end zone for most of the night. Though I would have liked the shutout, giving up just six points isn't an awful situation to be in, right?
There does continue to be one major flaw with this year's defense, though, and it's their inability to create turnovers. Saturday's game continued this troubling trend as Utah failed to force even one turnover.
That's not to say they didn't have their chances. Wyoming fumbled the ball three times - yet each time Utah failed to come away with it.
This has to change. The big reason Utah is toward the bottom of the country in this category is because the defense hasn't done a good job here. Maybe it's just bad luck and this will all even out by the twelfth game. But if it doesn't, they could be in trouble.
Special Teams: B-plus - There was no punt return for a touchdown and Joe Phillips did miss an extra point. But overall, the special teams were once again solid. Shaky Smithson had 122 yards returning and broke one for 46 yards before finally being brought down. He continues to be amazing. Other than that, Phillips connected on his lone field goal - keeping his made streak alive.
- Aaron Roderick: B - Like I said, there was no real issues with the play calling. Outside the flea-flicker at the start of the game, the Utes ran a very conservative offense and appeared to be just content at getting the W and leaving Laramie as quickly as possible (can you blame 'em?).
- Kalani Sitake: B - I kept this a B because of the lack of forced turnovers. But other than that, the defense did extremely well and I continue to be impressed with how Sitake has grown as a coach and how his young defense has developed overall. The Utes now rank 7th nationally in total defense - that's pretty damn impressive.
- Kyle Whittingham: B - This was one game that kind of concerned me prior to the season starting. Ever since the 2006 debacle, I've been cautious about trips to Laramie. With how Utah just completely trashed Iowa State last week, this game could have acted as a trap - especially when you realize the Utes haven't played at home in three weeks. Whittingham didn't allow the team to really overlook the Cowboys and they once again took care of business. I like that. I like how this team is not losing to lesser programs or allowing them to hang around like they were a few years ago (and even last season in regards to bad teams staying close). This week they face a similar test. Hopefully they get the same result (minus the turnovers, of course).