Thoughts from the Gridiron: Oregon State vs. Utah

Utah+Utes+played+Oregon+State+Beavers+on+December+5%2C+2020+at+the+Rice+Eccles+Stadium+in+Salt+Lake+City.+Utah+won+with+30-24.+%28Photo+by+Ivana+Martinez+%7C+Daily+Utah+Chronicle%29%0A

Utah Utes played Oregon State Beavers on December 5, 2020 at the Rice Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City. Utah won with 30-24. (Photo by Ivana Martinez | Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Sammy Mora, Sports Editor

 

Was it a full 60 minutes of football? No. But the game put on by the University of Utah football team last night was the closest we’ve gotten all season. The Utes finally got in the win column after beating Oregon State 30-24 and showed some improvement from last week’s heartbreaking loss. 

 

Offense

If Ty Jordan is not the number one back for the Utes by the end of the season, I don’t know what the coaching staff is doing. The explosive true freshman was on fire last night, showing yet again why the coaching staff was so hyped about him at the beginning of the season. Not only did he record his first touchdown as a Ute, but he also rushed for 167 yards and had another 22 through the air. Jordan is a special kid and he is the next incarnation of Zack Moss. 

With the Beavers having to focus their attention on Jordan, it opened the pass game and I have five words that really helped make the offense two dimensional: Brant Kuithe and Britain Covey. 

While statistically, Kuithe was better with 76 yards, Covey was really the one who made the difference for the team. He had his first receiving touchdown since the Utes faced USC in 2018. But what really showed his glorious return to the field was the incredible 64-yard punt return that he ended up scoring on. 

Quarterback Jake Bentley still looked shaky at times, mainly overthrowing Kuthie on what would have been an easy Utah touchdown in the first quarter and then failing to connect again in the second. But he also deserves a pat on the back because last night was the first game he didn’t throw an interception in a Utah uniform. There were some close calls, but in the end the Utes ended up even in the turnover column for the first time this season. 

However, not being able to score touchdowns is very concerning. This time it wasn’t a big deal since the team ended up coming out on top, but field goals don’t usually win games. 

It also goes without saying that Jordan and the rest of the running backs wouldn’t have been successful last night if it wasn’t for some good offensive line play. While the pass protection is still lacking at times, the OBlock is looking pretty nice. 

 

Defense

When the game came down to the last few plays, the Utah defense showed up. While they let OSU run the ball more than any other team in the last two seasons, this Utah defense is really starting to come along. 

Vonte Davis came in clutch on the first drive of the game. Picking off Chase Nolan really set the tone for this Utah defense and helped the momentum build right from the start of the contest. Devin Lloyd also keeps making his case as to why he should be playing on Sunday’s with the strip-sack and two other TFL’s. 

Even after Malone Mataele was ejected for a questionable targeting call, the secondary was able to regroup and be able to stop Nolan some of the time. They did give up over 200 yards in the air, but that came as no surprise with OSU’s workhorse running back being out. 

The biggest glaring issue for this defense was the penalties. When I say they were a momentum killer, I mean it. OSU probably wouldn’t have scored one of their touchdowns if Utah’s defense would have played it smart and kept the game clean. Whittingham did address the penalties in his post-game presser, saying that the coaching staff is going to have their hands full to clean up those errors. 

 

Overall

Was it the easy win people were hoping for? Nope. But it was a win, and that is exactly what this team needed. They have been beaten down so much this season, with games being canceled and then back to back tough losses. This win is going to give this young team the confidence boost they need and believe me, they are going to need it. This week, they’re going to be thrown back into the fire. 

The Utes will now face a short week before heading to Boulder to take on Colorado for the annual Rumble in the Rockies game on Friday, Dec. 11. 

 

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