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The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Not-so-sweet 16th

By Christopher Kamrani

SAN JOSE, Calif.8212;Do you know the way to San Jose?

The Utah football team certainly does now8212;almost too well.

Extending the nation’s longest winning streak to 16 games, the No. 17 Utes were given all they could handle from a San Jose State team that was coming off a 56-3 whooping at the hands of No. 3 USC a week ago.

The Spartans came to snap the streak, and the Utes responded at a time they needed to most.

Terrance Cain, who finished the game with 248 yards on 18-of-31 passing, found wide receiver Jereme Brooks, the junior from League City, Texas, who bobbed and weaved his way down the field to earn a go-ahead 51-yard touchdown that would put the Utes up by a touchdown en route to their laborious 24-14 win at Spartan Stadium.

“We could have played a lot better,” said Cain, the junior college transfer playing in his first road game in a Ute uniform.

The 5-foot 7-inch Brooks cut his way through the entire Spartan secondary to put his team back on top and the miniscule wideout knew he had to make a play to get his team going again.

“It was coming down to crunch time; I had to make a play,” Brooks said. “I just got the ball and had to go score.”

Head coach Kyle Whittingham called the play the biggest of the game for his now 2-0 Utes.
Utah had gone up 7-0 early on the opening drive, which featured 77 yards on 11 plays and 6 minutes 30 seconds gone off the clock, ultimately stamped by a Matt Asiata one-yard touchdown run. Asiata finished with 94 yards on 20 carries but left the game later in the fourth quarter because of what Whittingham said was a shoulder injury.

The damage?

“Further evaluation,” Whittingham said. “I don’t know.”

During the first three quarters, the Utah offense was seemingly stuck in sludge. Two first-quarter fumbles by wide receiver John Peel and Asiata thwarted any chance for Utah to come storming out of the gates. Coupled with three missed field goals by senior Ben Vroman, the Ute offense was stagnant.

Cain’s numbers were stellar in just his second game for the Utes, but the offense had nothing to show for it until the fourth quarter. The Texan native also had 69 yards on the ground on 10 carries, including a couple of huge third-down bursts.

“You can’t get frustrated; you got to keep your composure and stay poised,” Cain said. “You gotta build your team up and keep it going.”

Although the Utah offense racked up 498 yards of total offense, the defense carried the team throughout the first three quarters of the game until the offense found the chink in the armor of the defense of SJSU.

“I just tried to stay confident,” Cain said.
Eddie Wide scampered for a 15-yard touchdown after the Utes defense stalled another Spartan drive to put the Utes up 21-7 with nine minutes and three seconds left in the fourth.

Despite the strong defensive performance, Spartan back-up quarterback Jordan LaSecla had a heyday against the Utah secondary once he came in for starter Kyle Reed. LaSecla finished the game with 269 yards on 22 of 34 passes.

Whittingham singled out the pass defense as something that is in dire need of work this coming week.

“Pass defense starts at the line of scrimmage,” Whittingham said. “The best pass defense is a great pass rush. We got to do a better job finding the ball on secondary plays.”

The Utes ended up with 11 penalties on the night, many of which came on the cornerbacks and pass interference calls.

In terms of the offensive struggles, it was a matter of capitalizing when the situation presented itself, and the Utes failed to do that for much of the game.

Utah had starting field position at the 50-yard line or better three times and came away with zero points on the board.

“We gotta fix it,” said Whittingham in regards to the offense’s inability to be consistent.
Another cause for concern for Whittingham’s team is ball control. Despite one of Utah’s primary rules as a program8212;to protect the ball8212;the Utes lost the turnover battle onceagain and has given up five turnovers in two games thus far this season.

“We’ve got to keep working,” Whittingham said. “We’re miles away from having all the answers and having our football be right where we want it.”

Leading the stout defensive effort for the Utes was safety Joe Dale, defensive end Koa Misi and Stevenson Sylvester who constantly pestered the Spartan offense from sustaining any long drives throughout the night.

Yes, the Utes extended their nation-best streak tonight, but with a huge game in Eugene, Ore., next weekend looming, Whittingham and his team have an exorbitant amount of work ahead of them.

“We’ve got to get a lot better between now and next Saturday if we even have a chance against the University of Oregon,” Whittingham said.

Tyler Cobb

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