The no.13 Utah Utes defeated the Oregon State Beavers in a workmanlike effort on Saturday night. Let's take a look at how the team graded out in their 27-12 win.
The Utah offense got off to a fast start in the first quarter, running at will against the Beaver defense in the opening drive and finding tight end Harrison Handley for a 39 yard touchdown pass in the first quarter. Travis Wilson had an effective, if unspectacular outing, completing 14 of 17 pass attempts for 198 yards and a touchdown without any turnovers.
Devontae Booker delivered, racking up 121 yards on 25 carries for a 4.8 yard per carry average. He rushed for one touchdown and was effective against the Beaver front seven for most of the night. Wilson also had a touchdown run to go with 56 yards on 14 carries and established himself as a running threat on Saturday night. There were some concerns however, as the Utah offense was largely ineffective throughout the second and third quarters. The Offense will need to find some consistency as they head up to Seattle to take on the Washington Huskies and the Pac-12's no. 1 rated defense.
Jared Norris returned to the linebacking corps after missing last week, giving the Ute defense a boost. The defense was strong agaisn the Beaver rushing attack, holding Storm Barrs-Woods to just 21 yards rushing and quarterback Nick Mitchell to 40 yards on the ground. Through the air, the freshman Mitchell performed better than most expected, moving the ball for 204 yards passing with 1 touchdown and no interceptions. Other than Beaver receiver, Jordan Villamin breaking lose for a 74 yard reception, the Beavers were held to short gains all night.
Quarterback turned safety, Chase Hansen had a big sack on Mitchell, but otherwise the Utah defense didn't put much pressure on the young Oregon State quarterback. Utah had opportunities for takeaways, but were not able to force a turnover for the second consecutive game. Part of the reason the team experienced so much success through the first half of the season was due to a league leading turnover margin. The team will need to find a way to begin generating turnovers again if they hope to win out the rest of the season.
The Utes special teams was great once again on Halloween night. Andy Phillips came through, hitting two long field goals of 45 and 49 yards. Hackett had three punts, averaging 54 yards per punt for a total of 162 yards. He had a long punt of 56 yards which flipped the field for the Utes. On kick off and punt coverage, Oregon state was not able to find much room.
The gameplan was pretty vanilla, and while the Utes did an excellent job executing in the first an fourth quarters, the second and third quarters left much to be desired. The Utes continued to struggle to find balance on offense as they ran the ball 44 times to 17 passes. Defensively, Utah was pretty sound except for one or two plays. The defense made a few stupid penalties on third down, which extended drives for the Beavers. If the Utes want to win out and win the south, they will need to do a bette job getting off the field on third down and not commit dumb penalties.
Overall, it was a pretty average performance by the team as a whole. The offense looked great at times and horrible at times. The defense played well for the most part, but made some stupid mistakes to keep Oregon State engaged. There is definite room for improvement as Utah heads down the final stretch of the season. Utah will need to find more offensive consistency and balance and the defense will need to play a cleaner game to win the Pac-12 south.