After a poor first series against Idaho State, with a quick three-and-out, Utah got on track and scored touchdowns on seven of their next nine drives, with one fumble and one punt mixed in there. Here's how I grade each offensive unit from the ISU game.
Travis Wilson had a nice day on Thursday, he went 13-of-18 for 265-yards, one touchdown passing, and one touchdown rushing. He did have some happy feet from time-to-time and left the pocket a little too soon, but overall he delivered some very nice passes to Westlee Tonga, Dres Anderson and Kenneth Scott at various times in the first half. He really didn't put the offense in any bad situations, and even with a vanilla game plan he would have up some monster numbers, similar to other Pac-12 QBs, had he played the full game.
Kendal Thompson had an 'ok' showing in his debut. He went 6-of-10 for 69-yards through the air. He also ran the read option very well, with both Booker and Poole, and showed some of his elusiveness as a runner. He missed one big highlight by missing Tim Patrick on the deep bomb for a touchdown.
Brandon Cox also saw his first action as a Ute and showed a lot of playmaking potential when he was on the field. He only threw the ball three times, but he was 3-of-3 for 17-yards. He ran the read option very well too, keeping the ball twice for 22-yards and one touchdown. Cox has a feathery touch on his throws, and with his speed and agility, he is the ultimate duel threat QB. As he matures, gains experience and knowledge, he will be one heck of a quarterback in the Pac-12.
QB Grade: B
Nothing really spectacular out of the quarterbacks this past week, other than Wilson's high flying touchdown run. None of them had a turnover, which is what you want to see, and they all got the ball into the playmakers hands to get chunk yardage, especially Wilson. Some happy feet here and there hurt them, and a couple missed throws bump them down as well.
Bubba Poole looked good Thursday night, he scored Utah's first touchdown and had 42-yards on six carries (7 yard per carry average). He showed his typical elusiveness and speed in space, but I still would like to see him pick up some of the tough yards between the tackles, too often I see him getting hit in the backfield or at the line of scrimmage and going down. With that said, Poole may be the best utility back of all the running backs.
Devontae Booker showed fans why many of us have been high on him, and why he may be the star in the backfield. Booker ran the ball 10 times for 78-yards (7.8 yards per carry average), and also had one reception for 61-yards on a beautifully executed screen pass. He did have two touchdowns on the ground, including one for 38-yards that showed some of his speed in the open field.
Troy McCormick struggled a bit Thursday, and wasn't really able to get into a rhythm. The one time he did get loose for a good gain, he got hit and fumbled the ball.
RB Grade: B-
A lot of good out of the backs, and that's evident by the yards per carry average by Booker and Poole. There also was some missed blocks in the pass game that made it harder for the quarterback, and the fumble by McCormick was in the red zone, those are things we can't see as the season goes along.
Wide Receivers / Tight Ends
After the first half, it was nice to see names other than Dres Anderson making plays in the receiving game. Westlee Tonga was a consistent target for Wilson, and made some great catches to keep the chains moving. Tonga had 61-yards on five catches, and was a great bail out open for Wilson.
Another name back in the lineup, that was great to see, was Kenneth Scott. Scott had 57-yards on four receptions, and two of them were beauties. One was for 20-yards, with about half those yards coming after the catch by fighting through ISU defenders, something that we never saw last season. The other was a 26-yard touchdown at the end of the first half, which was a great throw from Wilson to Scott, where Scott was able to get just inside of the pylon.
Dres Anderson did was he does, and that's go over 100-yards (111 total) on four catches. His biggest catch was at the end of the first half, when he made a tough catch coming back to the ball evading defenders. Catches like that one at the end of the half are ones he would have dropped last year, so it was great to see him come down with the reception.
WR Grade: A
I'm giving the wide outs an 'A,' I thought about where I could drop them, but they played an all around good game on Thursday. They made some great catches, kept the chains moving, and got the big plays out there - they did it all.
The offensive line was up and down on Thursday, which I'd expect a little bit in an opener, especially without the starting center. Where I think the line needs work going into week two is run blocking. Too often I saw the running backs having to elude guys in the backfield, or getting stuffed at the line of scrimmage. There were instances where they did move some bodies and allow the running backs to find day light, like on this touchdown by Booker:
The pass protection was solid I'd say. Some of the pressures from ISU can be attributed to a running back missing a block, or the quarterback either holding the ball too long, or having happy feet. There were some breakdowns, with some guys blocking the same defender leaving another one free to rush the QB. There were also some swinging gates by the tackles with their hips getting turned around in pursuit of the defensive end, and that will need cleaned up quick.
A major highlight for the offensive line was in the screen game. The big guys got up the field and opened up the lane for Booker as he was turning up field, and right guard Isaac Asiata made the key block about 10-yards down field on Bookers 61-yarder.
OL Grade: B
The line was 'ok' on Thursday. Getting starting center Siaosi Aiono back will help going forward, and some film work will help with the blocking assignments. I really want to see the biggest improvement from week one to week two from this group.
Overall Offensive Grade - B
After having 27 first downs, 238 rushing yards (5.2 yards per carry), 351 passing yards, 589 total yards, with a 57% third down conversation percentage, I'd say the offense only played 'ok'. They did what they were supposed to, and outside of some hiccups, they were very productive. No doubt, there is still some work needed, and some things need cleaned up, but as a collective unit, I like what we saw from the offense against ISU.
What about you? How would you grade the offense from the Idaho State game?