Everyone was concerned about the post “Holy War Hangover,” since Utah was winless since joining the Pac-12 after beating BYU. That hangover appeared to be evident in the first quarter of Utah’s game against San Jose State, as both sides of the ball appeared to be sluggish and not executing.
Utah let SJSU march down the field on the opening drive of the game and kick a quick field goal. Utah would match their first drive, after stalling out within the 10 yard line (again). Utah got another chance with 1st and goal after the Spartans muffed a punt, but again, flamed out in the red zone. SJSU would then march down the field with a 15 play 84 yard drive for a touchdown, taking a 10-6 lead. Basically from that point on, the defense woke up, shook off the hangover, and really shut down the Spartans.
The defense would only surrender one more score (in garbage time), and sacked SJSU 10 times on the night, by 8 different players. Utah picked the ball off twice, one by Reggie Porter on a gorgeous pick on the sideline, and the other by Marcus Williams in traffic after a Utah turnover.
The offense took a bit longer to get going. After their first couple of drives, that resulted in field goals, things came to a bit of a halt for the Utes until about half way through the second quarter. After San Jose’s long scoring drive, Utah did respond with a quick hitting drive of four plays for 75 yards, all on the ground as Zack Moss busted off a 51 yard run (54 total on the drive), and Troy McCormick did the rest rushing in from 16 yards out to give Utah the lead for the remainder of the game.
Right before the half, after Porter’s sweet INT, Troy Williams led Utah on a great 2 minute drill, when he hit Tim Patrick for a 54 yard gain to set up first and goal, where Patrick capped off the drive with a 4 yard touchdown catch on a slant to give Utah a 20-10 lead, and the game was basically over at this point.
In the third, while Utah’s defense was dominating, Utah’s offense had two very good drives. The problem is, Troy Williams threw his second interception in the end zone in as many weeks. This is an issue that needs to stop. Utah’s next possession would end up being another TD drive, on just five plays in just a 1:20. In the fourth quarter, Utah’s line started taking over and the running game finished things off.
As for Utah’s new look running back corps (post Joe Williams), they had a nice night. Zack Moss and Armand Shyne both had 12 carries, but Moss had 95 yards rushing while Shyne had 92. McCormick had 61 yards on 7 carries, but did have a fumble after a long run, where the defender stripped the ball away as McCromick was fighting for yards. All three of the backs also recorded TDs on the night.
Troy Williams was also good on the night (not counting that terrible pick), as he went 20-of-28 for 257 yards and one touchdown. He did have two nice chunk plays, with the 54 yarder to Patrick and a 45 yarder to Cory Butler-Byrd, who made his season debut tonight. It’s worth noting that Butler-Byrd did most the work on his chunk play, as it was just a short completion, but he did end up with 66 yards on the night. Tim Patrick is proving to be the go to guy, as he picked up 121 yards on 6 catches.
On the whole, it wasn’t the prettiest at times, but Utah was balanced, with 201 yards rushing and 255 yards passing, giving Utah their best offensive output of the season. Utah still needs to clean up some penalties, with 7 for 69 yards tonight. The offensive line wasn’t great to open the game, but got way better as it went along. They just need to sure up the consistency. JJ Dielman also had some poor snaps tonight, including one that went over Williams’ head for a loss of 14, followed by a short snap that threw off the timing of the play.
Plenty to clean up as they now prepare to enter Pac-12 play on Friday, as USC comes to Rice-Eccles Stadium, after losing to Stanford on Saturday. USC comes in at 1-2, and will be desperate for a win.