Utah wrapped up their first game of the season against Southern Utah with a 24-0 win on Thursday, Sept. 1 at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Despite the win, the Utes did not look particularly impressive, especially along the line of scrimmage. It is still early, and there is plenty of time for Utah to make adjustments. With all that in mind, here are five takeaways we had from Utah’s first game.
1. Utah has their quarterback
Junior college transfer quarterback Troy Williams looked good for the Utes in his first start. He completed 20-of-35 passes for 272 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. Williams moved well in the pocket, evaded pressure well, and had several nice scrambles to extend drives. He has a strong arm and is able to put touch on the ball. His mechanics are also solid; he releases the ball well above his head. He was playing against an FCS defense that lost two defensive backs to the NFL, so I am not ready to proclaim him a great quarterback he did do everything I wanted to see from him in game one, and that is all you can ask for from him. It will be interesting to see how he plays against a BYU defense that largely shutdown Arizona quarterback Anu Solomon.
2. The defense did its job
The Utah defense, as I predicted before the game, pitched the first shutout since 2012 against Northern Colorado. The limited SUU to only 158 total yards and just over 3 yards per play. We had a feeling coming into this season that the defense could be special, and while they did not have a perfect game, they played well and currently lead the Pac-12 in many defensive categories. The level of competition increases mightily in week two though.
3. Is there a running back controversy?
Joe Williams is a big, fast running back, and his goal for the season is to run for 1,500 yards. He came into the season as the starting running back, but he did not perform well in game one. He did not hit holes well (when they were there) and just did not run hard overall. Worst of all, his fumbling problem does not appear to be corrected. Troy McCormick looked much better against Southern Utah. He led the team in rushing yards with 55 and also had 55 yards receiving. He also held onto the football and looked better running between the tackles than Williams, despite being much smaller. Armund Shyne ran hard, but he only averaged 2.6 yards per carry.
4. The offensive line did not live up to the hype
It is only been the first game, but the offensive line struggled, especially run blocking. Having four starters back and playing an FCS team, the offensive line should have dominate, and yet, they struggled to open up holes in the running game and struggled in pass protection. The struggles could be first game jitters, or it could just take a game or two to gel, but they will need to be better if Utah wants to win the Pac-12.
5. Mitch Wishnowsky is the real deal
How do you replace a two Ray Guy Award winner? Well, if you are Mitch Wishnowsk, you set a school record for yards per punt in a game. He downed two punts inside the 20. It's hard to imagine a better debut for the Australian punter.
What did you take away from the game? Sound off in the comments below.