I believe this was the most complete performance of the season and hopefully the Utes can use this victory to further push their undefeated hopes.
Heading into the game, I thought it was important Jordan Wynn and Utah proved their lackluster showing in Wyoming was nothing more than just a set of circumstances that generally get to a team halfway through the season. Thankfully, I think that's the case and even then - it wasn't like the Utes looked all that bad against the Cowboys.
Saturday, though, they looked as good as we've seen them this season. Their offense plowed through the Rams and though CSU isn't anything special, I think they're an improving team. Because of this, I left the stadium more confident Utah is for real than when I entered.
Now we get to see if they really are this Saturday against the Air Force Falcons.
The grades after the jump...
Offense: A - Hard to not give this performance an A. They put up 59 points and almost had 650 yards of total offense. It was a dominant display and, as we've seen all throughout the season, it could have been more. Utah certainly became less aggressive entering the fourth quarter up 45-6 and had they really wanted to run up the score, probably could have easily broke 70.
But they took out Wynn, inserted Cain and then allowed second and third stringers to see some action. Of those non-starters, Sausan Shakerin looked the most impressive, as he barreled in for a touchdown and finished the night with 80 yards on the ground.
More importantly, the offense had zero turnovers. That was key entering the game with Wynn's four picks in the last two games. He said he'd get it under control and what do you know, he did just that.
Defense: A - The defense flat out knows how to pretty much beat down every opposing offense. CSU might not light it up - but as they proved a week earlier against UNLV, they can score if given the opportunity. Yet outside of two field goals, one which was a direct result of a Utah turnover, they really never pushed the offense.
Factoring in the rain, which can make it more difficult to defend routes, the Utes did a great job. In fact, Rams' quarterback Pete Thomas said it was the best defense he's faced this season. Yes, even better than TCU's.
The defense also forced two turnovers, which we've been waiting for all season.
Special Teams: A-minus - I gave this an A-minus because of Shaky Smithson's fumble early in the game. It happens. I'm sure the rain played a role there - but that's a situation where you've got to call for the fair catch. Thankfully, it didn't impact him too much and he looked pretty solid the remainder of the game.
The Utes also attempted an onside kick and it proved successful. You can't ever go wrong when that happens.
- Aaron Roderick: A - I liked the play calling. I've read the Utes still haven't opened up their play book entirely and I didn't expect that to be the case Saturday with who the opponent was and the weather conditions they faced. Still, it's remarkable how much the play calling has improved over the last year.
- Kalani Sitake: A - Another great performance by the defense. Utah's offense gets all the praise, but people need to start taking note of this defense.
- Kyle Whittingham: A - It can't be easy getting a team up week in and week out for games against lesser opponents. Yet there has been no indication the Utes are overlooking anyone this season. That's impressive because I think it's only natural to look down the road a few weeks toward a big game. That will be something they can't do this week. Based on his track record this season, I expect Whittingham will have his troops ready to battle.