If you could summarize the 2020 football season for the Utes, just watch the game on Saturday. Like the first two games of the season which were canceled, the Utes just couldn’t get started against Wazzu. Fortunately, 38 unanswered second half points changed the narrative completely to get the 45-28 win.
Utah just couldn’t get out of their own way in the opening half. They’d show sparks of good plays, at least on offense, but they’d short circuit with a turnover (Ty Jordan’s fumble in the first quarter), penalties (pretty much all the second quarter), or missed open men in the passing game. On defense, it wasn’t much better, as they couldn’t get key stops on contain the run and shoot of the Cougars. Whether it was Borghi or the young QB, the Cougs were gashing the Utes.
WSU jumped out to a 14-7 lead, and it looked like Utah was going to come blazing back into the game on a 91 yard touchdown pass from Bentley to Covey, but things bogged down again. Washington State scored on an eight-yard passing play in the second quarter to counter Utah. It was on the next drive that Bentley would throw an interception with 1:21 on the clock that would be returned for a touchdown and give the Cougars a 28-7 lead heading into halftime. At this point, I was pretty much resigned to the fact Utah wasn’t going to win this game. The Utes had other things in mind.
Utah injected Drew Lisk into the game to replace Bentley hoping to stabilize the offense, and he did just that. Utah would go on to score on every drive in the second half (six), other than the opening one which was a three and out. While Lisk may have been the hero of the game, throwing for 152 yards and not turning over the ball, it was the Ty Jordan show once again. He gashed the Cougs in the second half, on his way to 154 yards on 22 carries and three touchdowns. We finally saw the integration of Kuithe into the run game too with his 33 yards on three carries. In the pass game, it was Covey (134 yards), Kuithe (61 yards), Jordan (33 yards), Byran Thompson (32 yards) and Solomon Enis (19 yards). Thompson and Enis didn’t put up huge numbers, but they had some huge catches to keep drives along and moving the chains.
Utah’s defense go the memo too, pitching the second half shut out, and forcing a punt on four straight possessions and a turnover on the last four possessions, including Clark Phillips getting a fumble recover and a pick six. In fact, WSU only had about 100 yards of total offense in that second half. Like the offense, it was almost a polar opposite of a performance. Utah was playing with speed, aggressiveness, and they were on the attack.
Now the Utes move into an off season of building onto what they started in this 2020 season. It will be interesting to see what happens with some of the players that can move on, or who will be staying. All in all, though, this team is prepping for a big future.