The Utah Utes moved to 6-1 this week as they faced the Oregon State Beavers in an ugly win on the road. Despite the poor performance the Utes showed perseverance in a rough weather setting and now bowl find themselves bowl eligible. Here are three things we learned about Utah in the battle against the Beavers.
1. Fourth and short
In previous battles the Utes have consistently made stomachs churn as they continued to take a chance on fourth and short and thus far it has paid off with a conversion percentage of 90%. The decision to take the risks on fourth and short was no different this week with the Utes attempting four fourth down conversions but the reward was low. During the game against Oregon State, the Utes we unable to convert on fourth and short and for the first time this season completing only one out of four attempts. While it goes without stating that if the Utes had been able to convert on all of these attempts it would unquestionably feel like the decision to go for it on fourth and short was always the right way to go. Since they now sit at a 71% completion rate, the major question this leaves is why not take the field goal and the points?
2. Welcome back Joe
Joe Williams, the senior, came out of retirement to start at running back for the Utes this week against Oregon State and assisted the team in a time of dire need. While Utah faced numerous issues on offense, Williams was not one of them and possibly was the only piece that saved them. After missing the last four games Williams looked surprisingly still in shape and had far more endurance than expected. He had 34 carries for 179 yards and had his first touchdown of the season. As frustrating and lifeless as he looked in the first two games of the season, during the matchup with the Beavers it was definitely clear how Williams secured the starting position in the beginning of the season.
3. Defensive standout
The Utes defense continued on an upward pattern this week as they shutdown the Oregon State offense through the first three quarters. Utah limited the Beavers less than 200 yards rushing, 14 total points and forced two turnovers. The standout from this game however, was none other than safety, Chase Hansen. The former quarterback has played a major role on the defensive side of the ball thus far during his sophomore season and leads the team in tackles. During the victory against Oregon State Hansen recorded a sack, a tackle for loss, an interception, and eight total tackles. If he keeps up this pace, he could be one of the leading safeties in the country in just his first full year at the position.
The Utes are sitting in a pretty great spot so far thus season and are tied for first in the south division of the PAC12 along with the Colorado Buffs. The next two games against UCLA and Washington could prove challenging but if the Utes are able to win those anything is possible.