Thoughts From the Gridiron: Utah vs Weber State


Jonathan Wang

Utah Utes walks out of the Ken Garff red zone on their opening game against Weber State football in Salt Lake City on September 2, 2021. (Photo by Jonathan Wang | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Cole Bagley, Sports Editor


In their home opener and the first game they’ve played in front of fans in nearly two years, the University of Utah took care of business, defeating the Weber State Wildcats 40-17. While the Utes didn’t necessarily run up the score, it was obvious they were trying to figure a few things out and eventually got into a good rhythm by the end of the game.


The defense was arguably the most impressive part of Utah’s performance, only allowing 10 points on the night as the initial Weber State touchdown was a 100-yard kick-off return by Rashid Shaheed. Besides that slight hiccup, all of their defensive weapons were involved and as expected, Devin Lloyd was absolutely magnificent. 

Notably, the defense only allowed 270 yards, locking down the Wildcat offense all night long. Additionally, Weber State’s front line struggled to contain the pass rushers and quarterback Bronson Barron was forced to release the ball early on multiple occasions, either under or overthrowing the football and missing his receivers. 

Impressively, after Weber State marched down the field on a 74-yard drive to the Utah one-yard line, the defense held their ground as they stuffed four-straight rushing attempts and forced a turnover on downs. Lloyd led the charge as he had two of the tackles at the line and was aided by Nephi Sewell and Brandon McKinney on the other two stops.

While head coach Kyle Whittingham wasn’t necessarily happy with that 74-yard drive he was pleased with the outcome.

“It was a great goal line stand but it was ridiculous that we allowed a 20-play drive, or what seemed like a 20-play drive. They ate up seven or eight minutes on the clock but it had a good ending. That was encouraging,” Whittingham said.

Overall this was an impressive display of what the Utah defense brings and teams will struggle all season long to put points on the board just like Weber did.


Lloyd demonstrated why he is one of the top linebackers in the country as he not only commanded the defense, but led them in total tackles. For the game, Lloyd finished with a game-high 12 total tackles, seven of which were solo. He also recorded one sack, two tackles for loss, one interception and a forced fumble.

He was absolutely everywhere and was usually the reason the Wildcats were picking themselves up off the ground as he seemed to be a part of every tackle. In addition to his interception, which bounced off Clark Phillips’s helmet before Lloyd dove to secure it, he was the main reason Weber State was unable to score on their 74-yard drive as he single handedly stopped two of the four rushes from the one-yard line. 

As Whittingham said during fall camp, Lloyd is one of the best linebackers in the country and he demonstrated that over and over against Weber State.

Room to Improve

Overall, it’s tough to find a lot of fault with the defense as they were stellar all night long. However, while they didn’t allow very many points, Barron was able to find a lot of success through the air as he finished the night 21-33 for 213 yards and a touchdown. With the plethora of quarterback and receiving talent that the Pac-12 possesses, they’ll want to tighten things up before they enter conference play as those teams will punish them if they aren’t more careful.


The offense had a decent night as they finished with 40 points, 450 yards, and 28 total first downs. Charlie Brewer was as advertised as he continually demonstrated he can pass the ball. However, while Brewer was serving his deliveries on a platter, the receivers somewhat struggled to bring them down, dropping quite a few passes for no good reason. 

Additionally, the run game wasn’t at the level Utah fans were accustomed to in the first half but they were able to turn it around as they finished with 188 yards on 31 carries.

While it wasn’t always pretty, for a first game, the offense demonstrated a lot of potential and Brewer is clearly for real. With time, they’ll clean things up, the running room will figure out their identity, and they’ll put up plenty of points as the season goes on.


Charlie Brewer was easily the bright spot for the offense as he finished 19-27 for 233 yards and two touchdowns. As previously mentioned, he was serving beautiful passes all night long, placing it only where the receiver could get it but still kept it in bounds. 

“I felt really good, just kind of like I said, it starts with me,” Brewer said. “I feel like I can play a little bit better. But, you know, I thought it was good. I thought it was a good start, you know kind of the starting point and now we can kind of figure out exactly what we need to do.”

Dalton Kincaid seemed to be the favorite target for Brewer as he finished with 75 yards and two touchdowns, the first of which Brewer perfectly placed into the corner of the end zone and Kincaid beautifully snagged while still keeping a foot in bounds.

Overall, Utah should be very pleased with their decision under center as he illustrated his elite passing ability and a veteran demeanor in commanding the offense.

Room to Improve

As previously mentioned, the run game wasn’t quite at the level you’d expect from the Utah offense but that was mostly a result of several key offensive lineman being out with injury. This made it difficult for the running backs to find any space as lanes were rarely opened up and the Wildcat defense usually met them fairly quickly. 

However, in the second half Utah finally figured it out and Tavion Thomas was definitely the most impressive as he finished with 107 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries.

While they seemed to figure things out in the second half, hopefully those starters will return next week so the backs can be more productive as the run game will be a critical part of the scheme against BYU. 

With the victory, Utah improves to 1-0 on the season. The Utes will travel to Provo next Saturday, Sept. 11 to face the Cougars with a kick-off of 8:15 p.m. MDT. The game can be viewed on ESPN.


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