10 Statistical Takeaways from Utah vs. SUU

Utah+Football+running+back+senior+Joe+Williams+%2828%29+runs+the+ball+downfield+vs.+the+Southern+Utah+Thunderbirds+at+Rice-Eccles+Stadium+on+Thursday%2C+September+1%2C+2016

Utah Football running back senior Joe Williams (28) runs the ball downfield vs. the Southern Utah Thunderbirds at Rice-Eccles Stadium on Thursday, September 1, 2016

By Justin Adams

Coming into the season, the biggest question for Utah has been whether or not it can take its offense to the next level — specifically the throwing game. With a new quarterback, a stable of running backs and a fleet of athletic wide receivers, fans have high expectations of the offense this year. But how did this new aggressive offense fare against SUU?

436 — Utah gained 436 yards of total offense

That’s a bit higher than last year’s season average of 363 yards per game, although it did come against an FCS opponent. How does that compare against the last couple times Utah took on an FCS opponent? In 2014, Utah racked up 589 yards of total offense against Idaho State. In 2013, the Utes gained 628 yards of offense in a 70-7 beatdown of Weber State.

Maybe Utah just underperformed against SUU, but on the other hand, head coach Kyle Whittingham may not have wanted to reveal too much of the new offense in the first game of the season.

After several seasons of finishing at or near the bottom of the Pac-12 in passing, the Utah coaching staff and players have insisted that this year’s offense would change that. Its opening game proved that those weren’t empty promises.

2 — That’s how many more times Utah passed the ball (39 attempts between Troy Williams and Tyler Huntley) than they ran the ball (37 attempts).

When was the last time you can remember Utah passing the ball more than they ran it?

20 — Troy Williams completed more passes (20) than Travis Wilson even attempted in the previously mentioned games against Idaho State and Weber State (18 and 19 attempts, respectively).

The coaching staff is clearly committed to letting Williams open up the passing game.

11 — That’s how many Utah receivers caught at least one pass. (Last year, Utah never had more than nine players with a catch in a single game.)

With the departure of Utah’s most reliable targets from 2015, Kenneth Scott and Britain Covey, one of the big questions this season was who would step up in the receiving department. That question was answered Thursday night as a host of wideouts, tight ends and running backs were able to connect with Williams, led by Tim Patrick who registered five catches for 105 yards and two touchdowns.

6 – Utah had six drives end in a punt.

While the offense showed flashes of brilliance with Williams throwing darts downfield, Utah had several drives sputter to a halt, and it had to kick it away. Add in a missed field goal and a lost fumble, Utah was only able to score on 4 of its 12 offensive possessions.

2 — How many quarters Utah went without scoring a touchdown.

Utah only had a single field goal to show for the first and third quarters combined. This is a continuation of a trend last year when in seven of Utah’s 13 games, the team failed to score a TD for at least two quarters. If Utah is going to keep pace with some of the Pac-12’s high powered offenses, it needs to score more touchdowns in more than one half of football.

0 — Utah held SUU to zero points, its first shutout since 2012

In addition to the shutout, the Utah defense held SUU to only 42 yards passing.

116 — On the other hand, Utah gave up over a hundred yards on the ground to SUU

For a team that boasts the second highest rated defensive front in the nation, Utah gave up too many open holes and missed too many tackles against opposing running backs.

17,329 — Approximate number of times you’ll hear the name “Williams” this season.

Between Troy Williams, Joe Williams, and Marcus Williams, it’s safe to say that you’ll be hearing a whole lot of Williams’s this year.

1 — The most important number of all, Utah came away with a 1-0 record to begin its 2016 campaign.

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