No, that was not a dream. Last night really happened. Utah was out for blood on Saturday night, as they gave Oregon a taste of their own medicine, routing the Ducks 62-20 at Autzen Stadium. Utah handed Oregon it's worst loss since 1985 and worse home loss since 1977, making a resounding statement not just to the rest of the Pac-12, but to the rest of the country in a nationally televised game. Without further hesitation, let's grade this game for the Utes.
The Good: Earlier yesterday, Kirk Herbstreit made a comment that Utah wouldn't beat Oregon, because the Utes didn't have a passing game. After last night's performance, Herbstreit should be eating a heavy diet of crow for the next week. Travis Wilson played perhaps his greatest game as a Ute, going 18-30 for 227 yards and tossing four touchdowns with no turnovers. If that wasn't enough of a passing game for you, Devontae Booker got in on the action throwing a 25 yard touchdown to a wide open Britain Covey on a halfback pass in the third quarter.
In the run game Wilson continued his career night, leading the team in rushing with 100 yards, including a 60 yard run in the second quarter on a key 3rd down-and-one. Booker stuck to throwing touchdowns in this game, but still provided a dominant rushing presence, turning out 98 yards on 22 carries and averaging 4.5 yards a carry.
Nine player caught passes for the Utes on Saturday night, including true freshman Caleb Repp, who recorded his first two career receptions, which also happened to be his first two career touchdowns. Britain Covey, another true freshman, also had two touchdown receptions, one from Wilson and one from Booker, as he continued his amazing freshman season. Senior Kenneth Scott led the team in receiving with six catches for 75 yards and a touchdown, providing a size mismatch against Oregon's younger, smaller cornerbacks.
The offensive line did not allow a sack for the third straight game, and provided excellent run and pass blocking all night. Overall it was the most balanced Utah offensive attack since the 2009 Sugar Bowl, and the result was a historic 62 points. The point total is the most points Oregon has ever surrendered at Autzen. Not bad for a team with no passing game.
The Bad: Nothing.
The Good: Coming into the game there was talk about who the better running back was, Devontae Booker or Oregon's Royce Freeman. Despite Freeman scoring an early touchdown, the Utah defense made the sophomore running back mostly irrelevant throughout the course of the game. The Utah front seven was again, stifling, holding Freeman to 77 rush yards and no touchdowns on the ground. The Ducks never got a consistent run game going, and as a result, struggled to move the ball all night.
Ducks starting quarterback Vernon Adams was only 2 of 7 passing before being yanked for Jeff Lockie. The backup, Lockie, fared better against the Utah defense completing 10 of 20 passes for 139 yards and a touchdown, but also threw two interceptions, one to safety Marcus Williams and another to Dominique Hatfield in the endzone.
Sack Lake City reappeared, as the Utah defensive line applied pressure much of the night by only rushing four and recorded four sacks. Even with Hunter Dimick sitting out and the loss of Kylie Fitts during the game, the depth along the defensive line was apparent, as Oregon's offense could not get into a rythym all night. The Utah defense didn't let up when the game was in hand either. Already ahead 55-13,the Defense forced a fumble at Oregon's six yard line and Gionni Paul recovered, leading to a Kendal Thompson touchdown run moments later.
Other than Lockie's first series, Oregon's famously efficient, fast paced offense was held in check by the tenacious Utah defense. The Utah front seven looks to be as good as any other front seven in the country and the secondary has been opportunistic with interceptions. It's hard to believe a defense could be better after losing a defensive end that had 18.5 sacks a year ago, but in Utah's case, that appears to be the situation.
The Bad: Nothing
The Good: This is Tom Hackett's world, we're all just living in it. The Aussie returned to form, booting three punts for 181 yards, including an early 76 yarder that completely flipped field position in Utah's favor. Hackett had no problems pinning Oregon inside their own ten yard line when punting it, however his most memorable kick of the night did not even count.
In the third quarter Hackett appeared to have a poor kick, but after a closer look, it was determined the kick had hit the skycam wire requiring a re-play of fourth down. The Utah coaching staff must have seen something in Oregon's punt coverage, because on the ensuing play, Hackett snagged a bad snap with one hand and sprinted through the Oregon coverage 33 yards, making an Oregon player miss, before being tackled from behind in a crazy fourth down conversion.
In the Utah return game, the Utes pulled off what might be the special teams play of the year, when Britain Covey drifted way back on a punt as the Oregon coverage team surrounded him waiting for him to catch it. Meanwhile on the other side of the field, Boobie Hobbs had already received the punt and was off to the races en route to a touchdown. By the time Oregon realized Covey wasn't going to field the punt, it was too late as Hobbs had little trouble finding his way 69 yards to the endzone.
In the kick game, Andy Phillips went 2 for 2 on field goals and converted all 8 extra point attempts for a solid night.
The Bad: I could nitpick and talk about Byron Marshall's return or the distance on Utah kickoffs, but nah... I'm going to say nothing. Hard to complain about anything when you win by 42 in Eugene.
The Good: This was one of the most complete and aggressive game plans Kyle Whittingham has ever put together. The staff did an excellent job installing an overall gameplan and attitude in the team heading into this game, not to mention the trickery and deception that was called at perfect times throughout the game. The team never let up on the gas pedal, even when the game was well in hand, which has been an issue for Utah in the past. There were no stupid penalties to speak of, the team played aggressively but in control all night, and the players acted like they had been there before, which is a tribute to the coaching staff keeping the players grounded.
Defensively, Pease called a great game, which limited a highly potent Duck offense and put pressure on the Oregon quarterbacks. Offensively Aaron Roderick called the best game of his career and Travis Wilson really responded to Roderick's scheme for him.
The real test for the coaching staff will be bringing this team back to earth and getting them prepared for a very good Cal team in two weeks. Utah teams under Whittingham have had a tendency to letdown after marquee wins, and the Cal game fits the mold. Through the first quarter of the season however, the coaching staff has looked like one of the best in the country and have positioned this Utah team for a great season.
The Bad: Nothing
It's straight A's across the board for the Utes this week. This was one of those special games that will be remembered for a long time by Utah players and fans. It is at the very least a top-2 win in Kyle Whittingham's tenure and makes a strong case for the best win since he's been the head coach. The Utes get a bye week to enjoy the win and begin preparing for a dangerous Cal team in two weeks.