Utah's defense played its most complete game of the season, perhaps the most complete game of any team in college football this year, in shutting down the Pittsburgh Panthers on a windy Saturday in Pennsylvania.
As dominant as the Utes were, city officials in Pittsburgh may want to keep watch on the bridges at the Alleghany, Monongahela and Ohio rivers for frustrated Pitt fans.
OFFENSE – Things weren't great for Jon Hays and the Utah offense passing the ball. But John White IV was clearly the best running back on the field Saturday and his quickness and open-field presence showed how special that young man can be. White rushed for 174 yards and often had big holes to run through. White and the offensive line get an A. Overall the offense was just mediocre. Grade: B-
DEFENSE – The Utes stopped every Pittsburgh offensive possession, forcing eight punts, three turnovers and one turnover on downs. Pittsburgh was 3-for-15 on third downs and 0-for-1 on fourth downs. The Panthers managed just 120 yards of offense and highly-touted Ray Graham finished with just 46 yards rushing. Grade: A+
SPECIAL TEAMS – It was a horrible game for most of the Utah special-teamers, with a kickoff return for a touchdown, a blocked punt, a bad snap on a punt and horrible punts all game long. Ute fans can thank heaven for Coleman Petersen, who made all four field goal tries and kept Utah in the game. Grade: D
COACHING – Too many repetitive play calls served as a frustration for the Utah offense. White would run for 15, so Utah's coaches would call nearly the exact play, and White would lose a couple of yards. Nevertheless, Pittsburgh's defense was extremely physical up front and there were some smart calls to combat the Panthers blitzes, including a huge Hays pass to Luke Matthews for Utah's first touchdown. Grade: B
OVERALL – Winning on the East Coast against a physical Big East team, no matter how bad it looked early, is a big occasion for Utah, which improves to 7-12 all time in the Eastern time zone. This is a game Utah had to have and White and that Brian Blechen-led defense made sure Utah got it done. Grade: B+
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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