Thoughts From the Gridiron: Utah vs. Washington


University of Utah Freshman running back Ty Jordan (22) in a NCAA Football game vs. University of Southern California at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, UT on Saturday November 21, 2020.(Photo by Tom Denton | Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Cole Bagley, Sports Editor


The University of Utah actually played two games in a row for the first time this season after rescheduling to face the University of Washington when ASU inevitably canceled. Surprisingly, the Utes gave the impression that they had made leaps and bounds from week one to week two as they held a 21-0 lead at half. However, last week’s team showed its hideous self as the Huskies scored 24 unanswered points in the second half and dropped the Utes to 0-2 for the first time since 2007.


Is Utah’s defense ever bad? The correct answer is no. Utah’s defense absolutely smothered Washington’s redshirt freshman QB, Dylan Morris, as he only had 77 yards in the first half and threw two interceptions. Utah also held Washington scoreless through the first 30 minutes. 

The second half was a much different story as Utah did give up 24 points and Morris went for almost 200 second-half yards and threw two touchdowns. However, it’s difficult to put all the blame on the defense as the offense turned the ball over twice and didn’t score a single point in the second half.


The Huskies came into the game as the only Pac-12 team without a single turnover. But that quickly changed as freshman cornerback Faybian Marks intercepted Morris in the first quarter and nearly had a second interception shortly thereafter. Zemaiah Vaughn also had an interception as the second quarter expired and ran it back 73 yards before being run out of bounds.

While the second half was a much different story, the defense did all it could to keep the Utes in the game as Vonte Davis added an additional interception in the fourth quarter. Devin Lloyd continued to lead by example as he finished the night with five solo tackles and 11 total on the night.

“There’s definitely progress,” Devin Lloyd said. “Every day we get better. I think the first half was indicative of what we can be as a team defensively, offensively and special teams. But like I said, we have to finish and find a way to finish when it matters the most.”

Room to Improve: 

While the young Utah defense held their own against an incredibly talented Washington offense, they left the slot open all night long. In the second half, Morris continually went to TE Cade Otton in the slot and even found him for a 21-yard touchdown pass to make it a one-score game before the third quarter expired.

“We just kept not matching up properly,” said head coach Kyle Whittingham. “Timely catches are things that move the chains in critical situations and we needed to do a better job of defending him [Otton].”


Despite a fumble on their first drive of the game, the Utah offense looked much better in the first half than they did all last week. Bentley looked much more comfortable under center, the Utah run game was firing on all cylinders and Washington’s defense struggled to stop the ball when it was in the hands of the running back committee. 

However, it was a tale of two halves as Utah was held scoreless in the entire second half and couldn’t seem to get anything going. After multiple three and outs, a failed QB sneak play on fourth down and several turnovers, the Huskies took over and rallied 24 straight points without a Utah answer.


Even though the Utes went the entire second half without scoring, freshman running back Ty Jordan had a standout performance. While the run game was still a committee effort, Jordan turned his touches into 97 yards as opposed to Brumfield’s 39 and Wilmore’s 24. Jordan also contributed to the receiving game as he had four receptions and 31 yards. 

Last week, Whittingham had commented they would continue to go with the committee strategy in the backfield until someone was able to separate themselves. After tonight, Jordan’s performance could be what Whittingham was looking for which could mean more touches for him going forward.

“It sure looks like he [Jordan] is starting to separate himself,” Whittingham said. “What makes him so effective is first off, he’s got great speed, he’s got great balance, he’s tough and he’s built really well for a running back. He’s not the tallest kid, 5’8, 5’9,  but he’s close to 200 pounds and he’s really just a tough guy to tackle. He’s got that low center of gravity, he’s got good vision and so he’s going to do a lot of good things for us during his career. He’s just getting started.”

Room to Improve: 

Turnovers continue to plague the Utah offense as they committed four against Washington. While Bentley did look much better against the Huskies, he continued to turn the ball over in week two as he finished the night with one fumble and two interceptions. His fumble was a lack of ball protection as the Washington rush came, and his first interception was an underthrown pass on a third-down play and the second a last-second heave attempt into double coverage. 

Even though Jordan was a bright spot offensively, he did have a costly fumble inside the Washington 20 yard line. This cost the Utes a much-needed score in the fourth quarter, which at least could’ve produced a field goal and given the Utes a shot at overtime after Washington scored their final touchdown.

It’s also important to note that in Britain Covey’s first game of the season, he had little to no impact as Bentley never looked his way. Covey has been a reliable target and great offensive producer for the Utes in the past as he had over 600 yards receiving back in 2018. Bentley mentioned it’s extremely important that they look to get him involved moving forward.

The Utes will look to host Oregon State next week at home as the Beavers are coming off a huge upset victory against their bitter rival Oregon. The game is scheduled for next Saturday, Dec. 5 with the time and network TBD.


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