Offense - Samson Nacua
Nacua was the most consistent wide receiver option for the Utes on Saturday. Between Jason Shelley and Tyler Huntley, the Utes QBs only completed an abysmal 11 passes on 26 attempts. However, nearly half of those completions were to one player, Samson Nacua, who finished with 4 catches for 68 yards, an average of 17 yards per reception, and one touchdown. On a day where there was not a whole lot to be impressed by on the offensive side of the ball for the Utes, I did come away impressed by the play of Nacua. Yes, Zack Moss was his terrific self, but the star running back was held in check for the entirety of the second half.
Defense - John Penisini
It was a game to forget if you’re a Ute fan, especially on the defensive side of the ball. The Utah defense did not do a lot of things well in their loss to ASU, and I struggled to find a player who stood out enough to earn a game ball. But Utah defensive lineman John Penisini was a small bright spot for the Utes defense. Kyle Whittingham called Penisini the most underrated player on the defense for the Utes, and he is probably right. Admittedly, I haven’t given Penisini enough credit for as good as he’s been all season long, and he probably should have gotten a game ball earlier than week 10. But when you play on the same defense as Bradlee Anae, Chase Hansen and Cody Barton, things happen. Pro Football Focus has Penisini listed as the highest rated player on this Utes defense and truthfully, he is one of the best players for the Utes.
Special Teams - Matt Gay
There wasn’t a whole lot the Ute’s special teams could have done to change the outcome of the game. In fact, they were very solid for the majority of the game. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, having two kickers who are deserving of getting a game ball is a good problem to have, just not for me. With that said, I have to give the ball to Matt Gay for his performance against ASU. Gay was fantastic as the senior drilled both of his field goal attempts from 40 and 31 yards. The All-American and Lou Groza Award winner also converted both of his extra point attempts and in total accounted for 8 of Utah’s 20 points.