Offense - B
The Utah offense did not get off to a quick start, to say the least. Granted, BYU is a tough defense, but 3 offensive points in the first half is not what new offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig wanted to see in his first game back at the U. The second half, however, is what Utah fans should expect to see from the offense this season. Give the ball to Zack Moss and let him go to work. Ute fans were ecstatic when Moss announced he would be returning to school for his senior season and you can see why after watching Moss on Thursday.
The Utah offensive line did a tremendous job of setting the tone and allowing Moss to reach the second level, as well as protecting QB Tyler Huntley. It was the defense who scored the majority of the points for the Utes, but the offense’s ability to control the ball, particularly for the final drive which ran off the final 9:01, that impressed me. Andy Ludwig will need his offense to score more points once conference play begins, but the Ute’s offense controlled and protected the ball, which is the main concern any time you start the season against a rival under a new offensive coordinator.
Defense - A+
Utah came into the season with lofty expectations and the defense was the main reason why, and after one game, you can see why the Utes are picked by many to win the Pac-12. Utah has one of the top defensive lines in the country, led by Bradley Anae and Leki Fotu, and they were able to put pressure on Zach Wilson all night long. Wilson has the ability to escape the pocket and is a good, shifty QB which is why the defense was only able to accumulate a single sack, and yet the defensive line was able to bring the heat and make Wilson feel uncomfortable which led to the young QB making some errant throws.
But what good is an errant throw if you don’t have the secondary to capitalize? And the Utah pass coverage certainly capitalized. The Utes were able to force two interceptions thrown by Wilson, but not only that, they were able to return both for touchdowns. Rarely does a team get a pick-6 in a game, let alone two in the same night. If the defense can play like this week in and week out, Lee Corso might have been on to something.
Special Teams - F
Oof. Utah fans have been spoiled for the last decade with some of the best special teams units in the country year in and year out, but to say that this season’s specialists have taken a step back from a season ago would be an understatement. Last season’s kicker, Matt Gay, has been a preseason standout for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFL, but Whittingham might want to see if he can pull some strings and get Gay another year of eligibility after watching this special teams unit on Thursday.
I can’t remember the last time the Utes missed a PAT, mostly because I don’t think I have ever seen it happen. But not only did the Utes miss a PAT, but they also missed a 25-yard field goal which is sure to infuriate a head coach that has always preached the importance of special teams. Fortunately for the Utes, missed kicks were not the difference in the game, but they could be as the season goes on.