Offense - Jason Shelley
I continued to come away more and more impressed with the young Utah QB. Shelley was thrown into a difficult situation after Tyler Huntley went down with injury. When Shelley came in the Utes had just lost control of the Pac-12 South following a loss to ASU and were needing to win out to have any chance to go to Santa Clara for the first time. So what has Shelley done since then? Exactly that. The redshirt freshman has yet to lose a start in a Utah uniform, defeating Oregon, Colorado and now BYU. Saturday’s win over the Cougars was the most impressive to me, however. Down 20 points in the second half is a difficult situation for any QB, especially one who is making his third career start. But Shelley was not phased by the pressure, in fact, he embraced it. Shelley was calm and collected all game long and was able to lead to Utah offense to 28 unanswered points and it was a 33-yard QB run for a score that helped to seal the win for the Utes. Shelley finished the game with 141 passing yards on 19/28 along with a touchdown pass in addition to 61 yards and a score on the ground.
Defense - Julian Blackmon
The Utes were dead in the water. Trailing 20-0, the Utes had just been forced to punt to open the second half and they were in desperate need of a momentum changing play. That play came just seconds later at the hands of Utah’s star defensive back Julian Blackmon. Blackmon intercepted a Zach Wilson pass on third-and-two and took it 27 yards to the house, putting Utah on the board for the first time. The Cougars managed to score once more before the Utah offense was able to get going but it was Blackmon’s core that finally gave the Utes a bit of life and helped to spark the 20-point comeback victory over the Cougars. Blackmon finished the game with four solo tackles to go along with two pass deflections and an interception.
Special Teams - Britain Covey
Last week some people questioned my choice to give Covey the game ball for not turning the ball over in the snowy conditions. Now Covey earned a second straight game ball for his performance on special teams, this time as a consequence of the struggles by everyone else on the special teams unit. Matt Gay was 0-for-1 on field goal attempts after his lone attempt was blocked by the Cougars, Jameson Field made contact with the ball on a BYU punt giving the ball back to the Cougars and Mitch Wishnowski made a critical mistake on a punt that went into the stands and had net yardage of 10. So due to the struggles of the rest of the Utah special teams Covey gets his second straight game ball. The wide receiver finished with one kick return for 22 yards in addition to two punt returns for 15 yards.