What a gutsy win by Utah. It wasn't perfect, but against TCU, it never really is. Now Utah has a 4-game winning streak and they are brimming with confidence. Hopefully they can ride that to 9-win regular season and a top-25 finish!
Offense: B- Utah's offense was far from being explosive, but the gameplan -- with Brian Johnson still not 100% healthy -- worked. The Utes relied on Darrell Mack once again, as he rolled to 100 yards on the night and kept Utah's defense off the field for a big bulk of the game. The Utes won the time of possession because of their time eating offense, which made a rally by TCU pretty much out of the question.
Brian Johnson never really tested the Frogs' secondary and when he did, he was burned for an underthrown pick. It's clear that he isn't quite 100% and doesn't have the strength to throw down field, especially against a secondary like TCU. The Utes relied on short passes most of the time, but TCU's defense was quick to the receivers nearly every time. That resulted in an offense that couldn't really move down the field at the pace we're used to seeing. Nevertheless, TCU's defense makes that difficult for any offense and Utah did what it needed by minimizing mistakes and turnovers.
Defense: A The defensive effort last night rivals the one we saw against UCLA earlier in the season. They completely shut down the Frogs' offense, an offense that not even a week ago worked Stanford in Stanford.
Utah picked off Andy Dalton 4 times -- though if it weren't for a bogus pass interferance call, it would have been five. Returned one of those interceptions for a touchdown and pressured Dalton enough on TCU's final drive to keep them out of the end zone. TCU's only two scores came off two Utah special team mistakes. The first was a blocked punt returned for the score and the second, and final TCU touchdown, was established by a great punt return well into Utah's territory, a trick play and then a 1-yard run by Marcus Brock. After that, Utah's defense only allowed 6 points -- two field goals -- the rest of the way.
Special Teams: C+ Yikes. Not only did Louie Sakoda have his first punt blocked in his career, he watched helplessly as TCU recovered the blocked punt and roared down field for the score. Utah's special teams were not good Thursday and really the only negative about the game. Their punt coverage constantly allowed TCU good field position and if it weren't for the defense, coupled with TCU's poor offensive play, Utah could have been in a world of hurt. Luckily, that didn't cost them the game, but these issues will have to be addressed or it will in the future.
Coaching: A- It was a very solid coaching job by Whittingham and his staff. It's not easy winning on the road, especially against a team that hasn't lost many home games, but that's exactly what Utah did. The coaching staff has really done a good job at getting things straightened out, but the job isn't over yet. Utah still has 4 games left and I expect similar play the rest of the way. No let down, ok Utah?