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Grading out the Utes win over Cal

NCAA Football: California at Utah Gabe Mayberry-USA TODAY Sports

Offense - A

The Utah offense looked as good as it has all season Saturday night against the Cal Bears. The Cal defense had been allowing 21 points per game - good for 27th in the country - although the Utes were able to surpass that in just two-quarters of play. In fact, the Cal defense had held 145 straight opponents to under 25 points until the Utes put an end to that in just 30 minutes of play. What makes the offensive performance just that much more impressive is the fact that Jason Shelley stepped in for a hobbled Tyler Huntley early in the second quarter and the offense didn’t seem to miss a beat.

During his limited action, however, Huntley continued his efficient play, completing 11 passes for 214 yards and a score, with Shelley adding a score of his own on a one-yard touchdown pass to Brant Kuithe. The running backs were no different, as it seemed that whoever touched the ball for the Utes on offense found success. Zack Moss was, of course, the featured player on offense rushing for 116 yards on just 17 carries to go along with two scores. Devin Brumfield, Devonta’e Henry-Cole and Jason Shelley all had some success on the ground as well with the three Utes combining for 84 yards on the ground.

In all, the Utes scored touchdowns on 5 of their 10 possessions against a good Cal defense. Hopefully, this will be a sign of things to come as the Utes prepare to face off against another very good Washington defense this weekend, in what is arguably the biggest game of the season for the Utes.

Defense - A+

After what the Utes did to the Arizona State offense last week I thought there was no way that they could ever top that performance. Holding the ASU offense to 25 passing yards? Bradlee Anae racking up three sacks? There’s no way it could get better than that. But that’s the thing about this Utah defense, there really is no telling how dominant they can be on a weekly basis.

If you thought last week’s defensive showing was astonishing, man have I got some stats for you. I hope you’re sitting down for this. Here are just a few stats that show how dominant the Utah defense was on Saturday.

Cal managed just 83 TOTAL yards in the game, the first time the Utes have ever held a PAC-12 team to under 100 yards of offense. The previous low? Arizona State last week. Additionally, the Utah defense held Cal to just 6 first downs for the entire game and Cal averaged just 1.9 yards per play while going 2-for-11 on third down. This is also the first time the Utah defense has pitched two shutouts in the same season since 2003 and Cal’s 0 points is the first time the Bears have been shutout since 1999. Name me a better unit, offense or defense, in the PAC-12 than the Utah defense right now… I’ll wait.

Special Teams - D

Last week some people were upset that I gave the Utah special teams an ‘A’ for their performance against the Sun Devils. While I stick by my ‘A-grade’ last week - windy and rainy weather leads to two things, missed kicks, bad punts and muffed kicks, of which Utah had none - there were some valid points brought up. The main one was that while Utah didn’t make any mistakes, they also didn’t do anything particularly well in the special teams department. Fair point. So with that said, while the Utah special teams didn’t make any catastrophic mistakes, they also didn’t really make any game-changing plays. The punting game was sub-par, the kicking game - while going 5-for-5 on extra points - missed their lone field goal attempt and the kick return game was nothing special.