Utah Utes report card: Utah O gets rolling in second half

By Andrew Griffin

For the Deseret News

Published: Saturday, Sept. 17 2011 11:12 p.m. MDT

Utah Head Coach Kyle Whittingham celebrates with fans after his team destroyed BYU 54-10 Saturday, Sept. 17, 2011

Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News

A defense that forced seven turnovers and a smothering kick coverage team that kept BYU pinned deep in its own territory were two of the key parts of Utah's win over the Cougars Saturday night in Provo.

When Derrick Shelby recovered Jake Heaps' flail of a pass after a bad snap to start the game, Utes fans could already feel something special was going to happen.

In fact, they had no idea how special.

OFFENSE: Even with the gifts from BYU (fumble, fumble, fumble), Utah's offense managed just 14 points in the first half and had just one decent drive. That all changed in the second half, especially in the fourth quarter. Jordan Wynn showed some arm strength in connecting with Dres Anderson on a 59-yard scoring strike that pushed the lead to 21-10. Then it became the John White IV show. The speedy scat back had two long TD runs and generally ran around a mentally and physically exhausted BYU defense. Quite frankly, the Utah offense wore BYU out. GRADE: B+

DEFENSE: What can you say about a defense that forced seven turnovers? The weird thing is the Cougars dominated Utah's 'D' for awhile. Utah allowed six drives of six plays or more, but when a high percentage of those drives end in turnovers, it's easy to ignore the nearly 400 yards given up. Late in the game, it was a defensive party that Utah fans will not soon forget. GRADE: A-

SPECIAL TEAMS: The muffed kickoff by J.D. Falslev would have been a simple field position problem had Utah's special team not been so quick to get down the field and cover the play. It was a magnifying glass on the great kick coverage the Utes had all night. BYU had minus-1 yard in punt returns, while shifty kickoff returner Cody Hoffman was held to 17.4 yards per return in the game. Repeatedly BYU had to start inside its own 20-yard line. A missed field goal and a missed extra point are easy to ignore in a blowout win. GRADE: A

COACHING: Kyle Whittingham played at BYU and Norm Chow coached at BYU. And Utah looked like it had a Xerox of the BYU playbook. Utah used the clock well late in the first half and the decision to pound the ball with White and company late in the third quarter, just when BYU was feeling down in the dumps, was brilliant. The 45-minute ride back to SLC will be a fun one. GRADE: A

OVERALL: Utah fans will revel in this result for a long time, no matter what happens in the Pac-12. Wynn looked stronger, White ran faster and the defense was flying around the field like mad men. Red will be the official color of the Beehive Boot for 364 more days. GRADE: A

Andy Griffin is a southern Utah broadcaster and sports writer and has been involved in covering sports in Utah, including professional, college and high school sports, since 1989.

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