Utah Football Can’t Keep Up With UCLA


Jack Gambassi

Utah Football Quarterback, Cam Rising (#7), makes a 9-yard TD run in the game vs. UCLA on Oct. 8, 2022 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA. (Photo By Jack Gambassi | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Ethan Pearce and Sean Overton


The University of Utah football team suffered a frustrating loss to the UCLA Bruins on the road Saturday afternoon, a result that very well may change the course of the rest of their season. The defense struggled mightily against a potent Bruins offense, and they couldn’t get off the field when they needed to, allowing UCLA to put up far too many points to keep up with.


Utah used a heavy dose of Tavion Thomas in their offense on Saturday, especially in the early going. It’s good to see Thomas getting more involved after being inconsistently present over the first few weeks of this season. 

After a slow first drives, the UCLA offense exploded for back-to-back scores in short order. Multiple chunk plays took the Bruins right down the field with little to no resistance from the Utah defense. 

Utah has seemed to have problems with some of the more athletic, mobile quarterbacks they’ve faced in recent years: Anthony Richardson of Florida diced them in Week 1 and UCLA’s Dorian Thompson-Robinson exposed more of the same weaknesses early on this week. Utah excels against pocket passers and drop-back quarterbacks, but guys who can open up the field with their legs and still make plays through the air seem to be their kryptonite. 

Cameron Rising got off to a shaky start, but shook it off to deliver a much-needed touchdown drive in the 2nd quarter. Following an early interception, Rising completed his next 8 pass attempts.

It was a mistake-prone but entertaining first half. Heading into the 3rd quarter down 14-10 isn’t ideal, but certainly not insurmountable.

UCLA ripped off a huge kickoff return on their first possession of the second half, leading to a touchdown drive right down the field. Utah answered back with a touchdown drive of their own, with Rising punching it in with his legs. Following two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties on UCLA’s Murphy twins, the Utes accepted one of them on the following kickoff and one on the ensuing two-point try, which was successful on another run by Rising. At that point, the score was 21-18 with the Bruins leading.

Karene Reid committed a back-breaking roughing the passer penalty on 3rd and long to keep the Bruins’ drive going on the next possession. That drive turned into a touchdown on 3rd and 8 in the red zone to put UCLA up 28-18 late in the 3rd quarter. Utah’s defense was subpar on Saturday, and couldn’t quite come up with the big plays they needed at the right times.

Rising led a masterful touchdown drive to begin the 4th quarter, rushing another one in to bring the score to 28-25. Utah’s defense again took the field, needing a stop to give the offense a chance to take the lead. It didn’t happen.

A 70-yard touchdown pass is the last thing Utah could afford, but Logan Loya ripped off a huge catch and run to put the Bruins right back up by 10 points. The Utes defense offered no resistance.

To cap things off, Rising fumbled on a 4th down conversion attempt, which was run back by the UCLA defense to the 1-yard line, and subsequently punched in for the score.

“The whole problem, really, is that we couldn’t get any stops,” said Kyle Whittingham. “It was big plays that killed us … we missed too many tackles.”


Utah didn’t look like the same team this week, starting the game off very slow. They got back to it late in the 2nd quarter but couldn’t hang on. Clark Phillips III got a pick-six, his 5th interception of the season.

But Utah also gave up 511 total yards to UCLA, making it very difficult to stay competitive. Zach Charbonnet averaged 9.0 yards on the ground for UCLA, totaling 198 on the game. Utah defensively lacked this game.

With this loss, Utah falls behind in the Pac-12, needing the rest to fall even further if the Utes hope to make it into the Pac-12 Championship. The Utes will return home next week, playing No. 6 USC.


[email protected]


[email protected]