clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Grading out the Utes win over UCLA

NCAA Football: Utah at UCLA Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

The Utes are officially going bowling. With their sixth win of the season, the Utes will be going to the 15th time in Kyle Whittingham’s tenure as head coach. But the work is not close to finished. Utah’s win over UCLA just strengthened their hold on the Pac-12 South driver seat. It was an impressive showing all around by the Utes as they dominated the Bruins to the tune of a 41-10 victory. So without any further delay, here are my grades for Utah vs UCLA.

Offense - A-

It was the fourth straight game of 40 or more points for the Utes as they ran the ball at will against the UCLA defense. As a team the Utes ran for 325 yards and 4 touchdowns. After a slow start, the Utes were able to kick it into high gear towards the end of the second quarter and it was game over from that point on. After relying on Huntley’s arm for the past three games, the Utah offense showed that they can still get a victory even with a limited output from the passing game. If the Utes are going to win the Pac-12 South, and possibly return to the Rose Bowl for a second time this season, they will need to continue to establish a balanced offensive attack that is capable of scoring in multiple ways. The only thing that kept the offense from getting a solid A grade is the offense’s failure to punch it in after a muffed punt recovery, giving the Utes the ball on UCLA’s 5-yard line.

Defense - B+

The Utah defense continued to impress after a solid ‘bend don’t break’ performance. The Utah defense got off to a sluggish start as UCLA was able to march downfield and get on the board on a Joshua Kelley touchdown run on the Bruin’s second possession. After that, it was all Utes. But while the Utes were able to hold UCLA to only 10 points, something seemed off about this performance, it didn’t seem like the defensive performances we’re used to seeing by the Utes. UCLA receivers were consistently able to get open against the Utah secondary and Bruin QB Wilton Speight was able to scramble for a large chunk of yards multiple times. Fortunately for the Utes, however, UCLA suffered from multiple self-inflicted wounds due to dropped passes and penalties. So while the Utah defense limited the Bruin’s offense all night long, the potential was there for UCLA to make some noise, preventing the Utah defense from obtaining an A grade.

Special Teams - A

After a bit of a letdown game against the USC Trojans, the Utes special teams had a very impressive outing against the Bruins. The special teams unit got off to a fast start as Connor Haller recovered a muffed punt by UCLA, giving the Utes the ball on the Bruin 5-yard line which was followed up with a Matt Gay field goal. The great play by the special teams didn’t end there. The Utes had a number of impressive plays throughout the night on the special teams side of the ball, highlighted by multiple Britain Covey punt returns that gave the Utah offense the ball in scoring position. I think it’s safe to say that the small hiccup by the Utes special teams last week is in the past.

Coaching - C+

In all honesty, I’m getting a little worried about these slow starts by the Utes. Utah found themselves trailing 14-0 early in the game last week before going on a run to eventually get the victory over USC. The Utes struggled out of the gate again this week, falling behind 7-3 before kicking it into high gear and running all over the Bruins. I’m not doubting Whittingham and the rest of the coach’s ability to get the team ready for big games, but if the Utes fall behind early against a team like Oregon, it will be a much tougher hole to dig themselves out of. Additionally, the Utes will be without Marquis Blair for the first half against ASU after getting ejected for targeting for the second time this season. Blair is a phenomenal talent and his absence will certainly hurt the Utes defense. I understand that football is a physical sport and that targeting calls are often ‘bang-bang’ plays, but there is no excuse for a blatant penalty like the one Blair committed and it’s on the coaches to get in his ear and make sure he doesn’t miss any more time down the road.