Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
Pre-game festivities prior to kick-off as Utah and Washington play Saturday, Oct. 1, 2011 at Rice Eccles Stadium.
It was supposed to be a historic night — the first Pac-12 home game at Rice-Eccles Stadium — for Utah Saturday night. Instead, the night resembled a classic western, with the Utes playing the part of the bumbling bad guy who gets it in the end.
And with Utah's top gunslinger, Jordan Wynn, making no appearance in Act II, the second half, the Utes' coaching staff couldn't even manage to circle the wagons.
Offense — With Wynn playing in the first half, Utah moved the ball with ease. In fact, Wynn had the most zip on his passes of any game this year. But two turnovers inside the Washington 10-yard line (one fumble by Dres Anderson and a Wynn interception) kept the Utes to just seven points in the first half. Without Wynn in the second half, the offense was downright anemic. A small consolation: The last drive of the game, with Jon Hays throwing against a soft Washington zone, did provide Utah fans with a glimmer of hope for future games if Wynn's injury is serious. Grade: D-minus
Defense — Utah's D was stout in the first half, holding Huskies star running back Chris Polk under 50 yards before the break. But with no hope on offense and Polk getting stronger with every carry, the Utes got pounded. Polk ended up with nearly 200 yards rushing and often had Peterbilt-sized holes to run through in the third and fourth quarters. UW ended up with 412 yards and 22 first downs. Grade: D
Special teams — A fumble for a touchdown in the opening seconds of the game meant this unit was going to get a bad grade no matter what else happened. But when the game was still close, it was a telling fact that Utah's coaching staff would not try a mid-range field goal. There is no confidence in the kicking game. Uh, and who platoons punters? Pick a guy already. Grade: F
Coaching — The game plan seemed solid and it's hard to coach against a whole slew of turnovers (ask BYU). But Jon Hays seemed ill-prepared for the spotlight. It's a double-edged sword because you want your starter to get as many reps as possible in practice. Still, at this level, the backup QB has got to be ready. If he's not, that's the coaching staff's fault. Grade: C
Overall — With Wynn out and the defense getting manhandled, Utah looked completely outclassed on this "historic" night. The Utes will win Pac-12 games, that's for certain. But some glaring weaknesses were definitely exposed Saturday night. Just when Wynn, Christopher and Anderson were starting to look good, things went bad. And that could lead to an ugly season. Grade: D
Andy Griffin is a southern Utah broadcaster and sportswriter and has been involved in covering sports in Utah, including professional, college and high school sports, since 1989.