Welcome to big time college football Jason Shelley. Talk about making a statement with your first start ever. Shelley and Armand Shyne had major shoes to fill and they did just that in a 32-25 win over Oregon on Saturday night, keeping their Pac-12 South hopes alive. Now the Ducks need to do the Utes a favor next week against Arizona State. Shelley threw for 262 yards on 18 of 31 passing, he also pitched in 22 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. Armand Shyne ran for 174 yards on 26 carries, and a long of 42. Shyne was clutch with some huge runs late in the 4th quarter to bleed the clock away. Of course, both of those two wouldn’t have put up the numbers they put up if the offensive line wouldn’t have played as well as they did, giving up only one sack.
The first half was about as good as you could have scripted for the Utes, as Shelley led the Utes to 300 yards of total offense, but the couldn’t punch it into the end zone, kicking 4 field goals, including a 55 yard canon shot by Matt Gay to end the half. Shelley was attacking all parts of the field, and looked as calm as you could ever expect against a fast Oregon defense. If Utah could have just punched in a couple of those touchdowns, the Utes would have had a pretty comfortable victory. The defense in the first half held Justin Herbert and the Ducks to just 7 points, and really was flying to the ball.
The third quarter was a different story, as the Utes offense sputtered to a halt as Oregon made some nice adjustments and really flustered the Utes. They did hit a field goal in the 3rd, but Oregon was flying up the field for most of that quarter. Herbert really turned it on to Dillon Mitchell, who Justin Blackmon had a hard time staying with, and Mitchell picked up 169 yards and 2 touchdowns through the air. In the 4th especially about half way through, things got really dicey, as Oregon blocked a Mitch Wishnowsky punt (who had an excellent day otherwise). The Ducks scored a touchdown the next play to give Oregon their first lead of the game. Utah in years past would have lost at that point, but the young offense rallied. Shelley hit Jaylen Dixon for a 36 yard bomb that really got the offense jump started. A couple of plays later, Shelley punched it in for this second score giving the Utes the lead again. The defense bowed up on Oregon’s ensuing drive, as Oregon had 4th and 5 at about the 45 yard line of Utah, when Jaylon Johnson deflected a pass over the middle from Herbert. The following drive for the Utes, Shyne and the offensive line took over, gashing a tired Oregon defense up the field, causing the Ducks to call their final timeouts. The Utes, once again, got the ball down to within the Ducks five and couldn’t punch it in to really put the game out of reach. They did play a lot more conservative, since the game was basically a lock at that point. The Ducks couldn’t have heroics tonight, as they did in 2016.
The Utes on the night ended with 494 yards, including 262 in the air and 232 on the ground. The Utes held Oregon to 405 total yards, and only gave up 117 yards on the ground, which is a major win against the Ducks. The attacked Herbert much of the night, picking up four sacks, but they missed out on probably at least 4 more, as Herbert slipped through numerous tackles and picked up big 1st downs.
This is a major confidence booster for the Utes, who were battling serious adversity going into the game. Now they are a win, and a loss for ASU, away from the Pac-12 title game. Things are very interesting for the Utes now, as the offense now gets another week to prep and practice together. If they can replicate this performance, they’ll take care of business.
Also, it’s always great to beat Oregon.
See you next week.