In a painstaking, down to the wire loss the Utes came up short against the California Bears. Like weeks past it was the last play of the game in a bizarre drive to give the Bears the win and was filled with several frustrations and mistakes for Utah. Here is a look at three things we learned in the loss against Cal.
1. Depth problems
With each passing game the Utes continue to add to the list of injuries and this week versus the Bears was no different. Utah head coach, Kyle Whittingham expressed his disappointment with injuries in his weekly press conference on Monday, “I'd be here for a half hour if we start talking about all the injuries.” Utah has lost four players for the season and after this week totals nine on the list of starters who have missed time. These losses have been significant and were more than apparent in the struggles to beat the Bears. Despite the loss against Cal, losing so many starters on both offense and defense hasn’t been all doom and gloom. Sophomore wide receiver Raelon Singleton completed seven receptions for 98 yards after senior Tim Patrick and junior Kyle Fulks went down. After a shaky start, Lo Falemaka came up big on offense at center after JJ Dielman suffered a season ending injury to his lower leg. Unfortunately, Falemaka has been spotted in a boot in practice this week.
2. Continued red zone issues
After cleaning up their issues versus the USC Trojans, the Utah offense once again fell susceptible to the problematic red zone during the game against California. With a missed field goal, a turnover on downs, and coming up short on the one-yard line in the final drive of the game, Utah offense in the red zone looked like the offense we saw the first few weeks. These three mistakes led to the end of Utah’s fourth and short streak and while they do not account for the loss completely, these errors definitely contributed. It would be a miss for the history books not to mention the bizarre timeout situation in the ending drive as a red zone issue. This timeout not as a Ute mistake but as an error made exclusively by the PAC12 referees, undeniably contributed to Utah’s loss of the game.
3. Offensive progress
Despite the loss and the Utes suffering greatly because of red zone missteps progression is still being made in ball protection and overall offensive control. The Utah offense is seeing continued success every week and has outshined the defense for two weeks in a row. Utah finished the night with zero fumbles and zero interceptions, a total possession time of just over 42 minutes and 29 first downs. In 97 snaps, the Utes had 442 total offensive yards. In essence the Utes did everything they needed to win this game but just came up a yard short, literally.
If the Utes are going to get past this loss they have got to be able to work through the injuries and work on completing a full game on all sides of the ball.