Utah Utes football: Offense finds the right, winning formula
Tom Smart, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — The final numbers show another mediocre offensive performance for the Utah football team.
Just 13 first downs, 287 total yards and 3-of-12 first-down conversions.
However, that doesn't mean the Utes weren't still doing cartwheels after Saturday night's game, as they had plenty of offense for a comfortable 27-8 victory over Oregon State at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
John White, the Utes' workhorse running back, rushed for a career-high 205 yards while quarterback Jon Hays "managed" the game well, according to his coach, and didn't have a single turnover after getting four a week earlier at Cal.
"It might be the blueprint for the rest of the season," said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham "Play great defense, very good special teams, take care of the ball on offense and score in the red zone. We don't expect to score 40 or 50 points."
White had the 10th-best rushing performance in Ute history and the first 200-yard rushing game since Marty Johnson had 229 yards in 2002.
Utah's first score came on a 35-yard touchdown pass from Hays to Dres Anderson with 7:04 left in the second quarter.
Before the pass, the Utes had pretty much kept it on the ground with White, but on first down, Hays faked up the middle to White and found Anderson down the middle, behind the defense in the end zone.
The next score was set up by an interception by Mo Lee and, two plays later, White scored on a 6-yard run around the left end. The play looked like a sweep around the right end, but White abruptly reversed field and went into the end zone untouched.
Then came the play of the game when White, on a simple play up the middle, juked out a couple of OSU defenders and suddenly found himself running down the west sideline for a 60-yard gain.
"That was a tiring run," White said afterward with a big smile on his face. "It was crazy, breaking all the tackles and ending up on the 10. It was a wild run."
Three plays later, the Utes scored on 3-yard pass from Hays to DeVonte Christopher to make it 24-0 and pretty much put a wrap on the game.
White had piled up 161 of his yards in the first half, nearly matching his season-high of 174 against BYU.
In the second half, the Utes seemed to go into their four-corner offense, trying to protect their 24-point lead.
They went three-and-out on their first three series and didn't get a first down until 7:26 was left in the game.
"We slowed down in the second half," acknowledged Whittingham. "We got a little conservative. We didn't execute well and we didn't have very good field position."
"We were trying to be smart with the ball and not have any turnovers," was Hays' explanation.
In the second half, the Utes had just 52 total yards. But thanks to an offensive first half, the Utes had plenty of offense on this night.
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