For the first game of the season, I think Utah played pretty well. It was obviously not a perfect performance and the Utes did leave themselves room for improvement, but things looked good.
Unfortunately, they're not great and we might not know if they're great until week three. But until then, here's a report card for last Thursday's game.
Offense: B - It wasn't a bad effort by any means for the Utes' offense. Terrance Cain put on a solid first performance and they did manage to pretty much roll through the Aggie defense. Of course, it wasn't perfect and they did struggle on a goal line situation, which should never happen. Beyond that, though, it's hard to really find much to complain about. Matt Asiata was really good and showed that he won't have any problem becoming the true focal point of this offense.
Defense: B- - The defense, unlike the offense, had some issues. Though much of that was fixed, so I'm not too concerned. Even then, they gave up two huge plays that should not have happened. One of those plays was just ridiculous. Robert Turbin took off up the field for a 96-yard gain on a play that should have been stopped no less than 90-yards before the score. But after that score, the Aggies were held in check and Utah's defense really didn't let up the rest of the way - pitching a second half shutout.
Had it not been for Turbin's touchdown run, the Utes win by an even larger margin and the defense probably looks a bit better than they ultimately did. But since it's hard to overlook a play that gains 96-yards and a score, I gave them a B-. Hopefully against the Spartans, they can improve and bump that up to a B or an A.
Special Teams: B+ - I was impressed by the special teams. I felt the kickoff coverage was far better than what we saw last year. The Utes did bumble on punt return, but recovered and didn't miss a field goal or a PAT. Ben Vroman might not be Louie Sakoda, but compared to past Utah kickers - he ain't bad.
- Dave Schramm: B+ - It was a conservative gameplan for Schramm, but I can't really fault that. When you're starting a new QB, you always want to ease him into the situation. One thing already different from Andy Ludwig is the total lack of trick plays to jump start the offense. Ludwig did that a lot at Utah to get things moving and though it often provided for some exciting moments, it also sometimes backfired - so it was nice not watching the Utes run a double-reverse on third and short.
- Kalani Sitake: B - Once the jitters were gone and Utah relaxed a bit, their defense played as expected. I would have liked to give him a B+ along with Schramm, but again, the defense kind of stumbled out of the gate a bit and wasn't nearly as ready as expected. I don't blame Sitake, since it's the first game and they got things under control. But I can't justify a higher grade than that, even though I expect him to be far more consistent Saturday against San Jose State.
- Kyle Whittingham: A - Whittingham had his team ready to play a game against a former coach and that's pretty much all you can ask from him. The fact this game wasn't as close as maybe some would have imagined shows me Whittingham can get Utah up for just about anyone. This will certaily be tested Saturday, though.