In what Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham called an "unimpressive" performance, the Utes beat the Utah State Aggies 24-14 on Friday night. The win pushes Utah to 2-0, but not without sustaining some key injuries. Quarterback Travis Wilson and starting defensive end Hunter Dimick both sustained injuries that forced them to watch the second half from the the sideline in street clothes. While Whittingham said neither injury was season ending, the play of the Utes on both sides of the ball suffered. Here is a look at how the Utes fared.
The good: The first drive of the game went exactly as planned with Utah marching down the field for a touchdown. Travis Wilson continued his steady play, rushing for a touchdown and looked as poised and confident as he ever has before injuring his shoulder. Britain Covey continued his impressive start to his collegiate career, leading the Utes in receiving once again, with six catches for 61 yards. Devontae Booker put up a more Booker-ish stat line this week, carrying the ball 31 times for 130 yards and a touchdown.
The bad: Other than the very first drive of the game, the offense didn't look great. Even before Wilson went out with his shoulder injury the offense appeared to sputter at times. Wilson, for the second week in a row appeared to be the x-factor for the offense. In fact his shoulder was injured while bailing out the rest of the offense with a 38 yard scramble on third down.
Once Wilson was out, Kendal Thompson took over at quarterback. Any downfield passing attack that existed with Wilson running the offense went away with his injury. Thompson stuck mostly to screen passes and quick slants and was lucky not to throw an interception. Thompson just doesn't have the arm talent of Travis Wilson and witha long wind up, gives defenders plenty of time to jump routes. The offensive philosophy will need to be adjusted for Thompson as long as he remains in the starting quarterback roll. Overall the Utes were outgained by the Utah State offense in total yards 373 to 327.
The good: Gionni Paul. Where would the Utes be without this guy? Paul again had a huge game, making a critical stop on third and short against the Aggies and sealing the win with a late game interception. Marcus Williams had an interception of his own in the first quarter.Dominique Hatfield made his return, adding depth to the secondary. Kylie Fitts had a great game, batting down a pass and providing pressure on Keeton throughout the night. Pita Taumoepenu provided much needed pressure late in the game giving life to the Utah defensive line.
The bad: Keeton was able to carve up the secondary at times in the second half. The defense lost contain many times and allowed a hobbled Keeton to scramble for first downs. The defensive line continued to struggle to get pressure on the quarterback through much of the game. Dimck went down with a knee injury and was not available for the second half. Despite struggles was still able to make big plays when needed and hold Utah State to 14 points.
The good: Andy Phillips kicked a 37 yard field goal to put the Utes up by ten points late in the game. Covey had a nice 30 yard return in which he made several Aggies look silly.
The Bad: Phillips odd season continued as he mishit a squib kick early in the game and then sent another kick off out of bounds giving Utah State great field position both times. Hackett had a couple punts that weren't up to his usual standards. Boobie Hobbs returned a kick from eight yards deep in the end zone for only 17 yards, made worse by the block in the back call Utah received on the return.
The good: As mentioned earlier, the first drive of the game was well planned and executed. The coaches did a nice job tailoring the offense for Thompson once Wilson went down. The adjustments made at half time worked well enough for the Utes to get out with a 10 point win.
The bad: The players did not look ready to play for much of the game. Call it a Michigan hangover or just not being excited for Utah State, but the intensity seemed to be lacking through much of the game. It is the coaches job to make sure the players don't treat the Utah State game any differently than the Michigan game and it appears that aspect could be improved at Utah.