With a bust into the AP Top 25, a road win against San Jose State and a total of three wins under their belt Utah has had a huge week. Now comes the real test and Utah will have to show us if they have mastered the material needed for PAC-12 play. Here are three takeaways from week three.
1. Sack Lake City is Back
…and maybe the best we have ever seen them. Over the past few weeks Utah has looked a little stale with only five combined sacks in the first two games. For any other team in college football this might be a great measure but if you are a Ute this stat has been concerning for what we have come to expect in seasons past. This was all rectified against the Spartans this past week when, in herculean efforts, the Utah defense forced 10 sacks, the second most in a single game in Utah history. Utah is now ranked at number two in the nation for sacks trailing by only one to Florida.
2. Cranking the Engine
The Utes needed a jump to get things going again this week and even trailed twice in the game against the Spartans. For the third week in a row it seemed that Utah just could not find the aggression they needed to take off in the first half and for the second week finished the first quarter down. On a positive note, they did eventually get enough juice to get going and take a significant lead to close out the game against San Jose State. This has been the Utah story so far this season and even with a shutout in week one against Southern Utah one of the major complaints was that the Utes looked sluggish and the final score 24-0 was nothing to write home about. If Utah wants to get the job done against USC this week they have got to get going as soon as they get in the driver’s seat.
3. The Deadzone
Over the past three games, the end zone is where Utah’s offensive drives go to die. For the second week in a row, an incredible stride down the field ended in an interception in the red zone instead of a touchdown. The Utes have seen a lot of mistakes in the end zone so far this season and in last weeks game against SJSU converted only 50% of touchdowns in the red zone. Even defense has struggled this season giving up a score on every red zone attempt by the opposition. This week was no different for defense, who gave up a field goal to the Spartans in their first offensive play of the night and later allowed a second quarter march down the field resulting in a 1-yard pass touchdown for SJSU. The Utes need to convert on both sides of the ball in the red zone to continue to win out in the PAC-12.
Even though the Utes performance in week three started out lackluster, there is no question that they took a turn for the better and seem to be trending upward at the right time in the way we hoped they would in the preseason. There is still a lot of football to play but Utah is finally turning some heads in the PAC-12 south.
Now the question on everyone’s mind. Will Utah be able to shake off the salt from last year’s battle with USC that handed the Utes their first loss of the season?