It was a game filled with questionable penalties, turnovers and drops for the Utes as they lost their first game of the season to #10 Washington at home, 21-7.
Tyler Huntley was 18-33, with 129 yards of passing and one interception. Jake Browning was 14-24 with 155 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
Stats aside, this is one of the more sloppily-played games I’ve seen in my time covering Utah Athletics. The Utes were on the receiving end of two ejection penalties, both for targeting and both against the defense. Marquise Blair and Leki Fotu were both called for targeting in the second half of the game, a game already in peril after an unorganized play by the offense.
Look, the Utes lost. They lost in a bad way. They were faced with an opportunity to stake their claim in the Pac-12 and, for the most part, they blew it. Is there much that can be said for how poorly Huntley threw, or for the many, many drops by Utah receivers or the many, many missed calls or wrong-calls by Pac-12 officials? Honestly, throwing this game’s performance in a fire might do the Utes some good. However, there are some positives that can be taken from the flames.
The special teams did great work in the game. Mitch Wishnowsky was accurate and kicked the ball about as well as he’s done his entire career. Consistency is key, a note that, hopefully, the other sides of the ball can take note of.
Britain Covey is absolutely living up to his potential as a #1 receiver for the Utes. Aside from a few drops and a large amount of helmet-led collisions to the torso, he still managed to walk off the field. I can’t exactly describe how much he got battered around by Washington’s defense, but he’s a real trooper for staying in the entire game.
Covey spoke about the surprisingly weak performance of receivers.
“It’s all mental,” he said. “We gotta be more locked in, and get in better habits.”
Both Covey and running back Zack Moss had injury scares in this game. Both resulted in them leaving the game for some time, but both came back on the field for the rest of the game after taking their injuries.
In the related Pac-12 news, tonight’s loss puts Utah even with USC for the in-conference record. Obviously, Utah would have rather won this game tonight, but with USC losing to Stanford last week, Utah isn’t really in the negative yet. This makes the Utes’ matchup with the Trojans all the more important though, as I covered in my season preview and prediction.
All in all, this was a forgetful performance. A lot of failed attempts resulted in a sloppy performance, which wasn’t going to be enough to beat a team like Washington. Utah will look to bounce back on the road next against Washington State.