Utah's win over Pittsburgh Thursday night was electrifying. It was also, at times, very frustrating.
Frustrating because the Utes dominated the game. It shouldn't have come down to a field goal in overtime. Not when you out-gain the opposition on offense 405 to 266. Not when you hold your opponent's best player to only 75-yards on the night - a career low. Not when you're leading by eleven late in the fourth at home.
This game was one the Utes tried to throw away. In more ways than one, in fact. But that isn't necessarily a bad thing. Not when you consider it was the first game of the season and coming against a team that was, preseason or not, ranked 15th nationally.
That shouldn't excuse the mistakes, though. Turnovers almost doomed Utah last night and they are very fortunate to come off the field at Rice-Eccles Stadium winning their eighteenth straight at home. The good news is that many of their mistakes are correctable. The better news is that they learned what they needed to work on without losing.
To be sure, the game wasn't entirely bad. Utah's defense, the biggest question mark heading into the season, far exceeded expectations at almost every level. Outside of a few slip-ups late in the game by the secondary, the defense played nearly perfectly the entire night.
Dion Lewis, the Heisman hopeful for Pitt, was held to a career low on the ground. If it weren't for three turnovers and a blocked punt, the Panthers' offense struggles to score 14.
That is good and surprising news because even though there were some issues with the offense Thursday, they themselves were pretty consistent.
Jordan Wynn, making only his sixth start in a Utah uniform, played fairly well. He did have an inexcusable interception while the Utes were driving and there were some issues with pressure. But he still finished the night 21 of 36 for 283 yards and three touchdowns. Not bad.
Overall, I'm optimistic about this team. I think if they clean up the penalties and crack down on some special team mistakes, they will be very, very difficult to beat.
Thankfully, the schedule eases up a bit for the next few weeks. That will provide Utah an opportunity to really build on this huge win.