Utah traveled to cold, rainy Seattle on Saturday night, and left with the program's first ever victory over the University of Washington Huskies. It wasn't always pretty, and Utah made plenty of mistakes, but they did what good teams do, that is find a way to win on the road. All in all a very good win for Utah. Here is how the team graded out.
Travis Wilson had a rough night throwing the football, completing less than 50% of his passes, throwing for only 155 yards with an interception and no touchdowns. Wilson made up for his lack of productivity through the air with his feet, rushing for two touchdowns on 42 yards rushing, including a late touchdown on a read option, which put the Utes up eight points with 3:27 to play.
Devontae Booker had a good game despite being held in check early. Booker finished the day with 150 yards rushing and a touchdown on 34 carries. Booker surpassed 1,000 yards for the season and had some crucial runs on the final nine play, 60 yard drive that sealed the game for Utah.
At this point it is apparent, Utah is not a potent throwing team, but they are efficient. The Utah offense scored on all four red zone trips, with three touchdowns and a field goal, besting Washington's league leading red zone defense. The Utah offense was given a couple of short fields due to turnovers, and was able to get points on each drive. The result was Utah scored more points on Washington's top rated defense (34) than anyone else has this season. It wasn't pretty, but they got the job done.
After not forcing a turnover in the previous two games, the Utah defense rebounded, forcing four turnovers, all of which were momentum changing plays. Gionni Paul was the standout player on offense, jumping a slant route in the second quarter, picking off a Jake Browning pass and returning it to Washington's eight yard line and setting up a touchdown. A little later in the second quarter, Jared Norris forced Washington running back Dwayne Washington to fumble, which Paul scooped up and returned 54 yards for a touchdown.
The Washington offense was effective at moving the ball all night both through the air and on the ground. While the Utah offense gave up more yards than most expected, they offset the allowances with their four turnovers and defensive touchdown. The defense was able to play especially well down the stretch to seal the game for th Utes and get out of Seattle with a win.
In the driving rain and wind, the special teams held up pretty well. Andy Phillips missed his first field goal attempt, a 45 yarder, but rebounded nicely to hit on two field goals of 43 and 36 yards to salt the game away for the Utes. In addition he made all of his extra points and was in on a few tackles on kickoff coverage.
Hackett punted four times for 158 yards, averaging 39.5 yards per punt. He landed two inside Washington's 20 yard line and helped keep Utah in good field position for much of the night. Washington had no big returns with kick and punt coverage being good all night.
Utah came into Seattle with a solid game plan and stuck to what has gotten them to this point, running the football. The Utes took what a very good Washington defense gave them, and were able to outscore any of Utah's opponents up to tis point. It was nice to see the Utes race out to a 21-6 lead and not have to rely on throwing the ball a ton to come back.
Despite nearly losing the lead, the coached did a good job of keeping the players engaged and playing tough down the stretch. Kyle Whittingham has a great record when leading at the half, and was able to build on it Saturday. Considering the awful weather conditions and playing against another well coached team on the road, Utah held their own and came ready to play. They did not wilt when the Huskies mounted their come back attempt, and gutted out a very important victory.