Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
It was supposed to be a lot of things for Utah Friday afternoon. It was supposed to be the day the Utes made a statement and perhaps qualified for the first-ever Pac-12 Championship game.
It was supposed to be the day John White IV became the all-time single-season rushing champion for the Utes, or at the very least, a great duel between White and Colorado back Rodney Stewart.
It was supposed to be an easy win and a celebration of a successful first season in the new conference for Utah, with the Utes' win streak reaching five games.
Instead, it was the Buffaloes' first road win in four years, a disappointing ending to the season for Utah and a nightmare come true with the loss of White.
OFFENSE — An atrocious first half with White on the field (one first down before intermission), gave way to a decent second half, with Tauni Vakapuna rushing for 77 yards and Jon Hays getting into a decent rhythm. But Vakapuna had a critical fumble and Hays looked like a statue at times in the pocket, getting sacked seven times. Grade: C-
DEFENSE — The Buffs stampeded for 230 yards in the first half. Inexcusable against a 2-10 team that came into the game ranked 109th in the country on offense. Utah slowed Colorado down a bit in the second half, but the one big drive Utah surrendered in the third quarter (11-plays, 82 yards) turned out to be the game-clincher. Grade: C-
SPECIAL TEAMS — The punting and return games were great. Sean Sellwood averaged 53 yards per punt, while Griff McNabb excelled at punt returns (11.7 yards per return). But the three missed field goals will forever haunt Utah in this inaugural Pac-12 season, especially the 27-yarder early in the fourth quarter that would have tied the game. Grade: D
COACHING — More silly penalties haunted the Utes. Utah only had four yellow flags thrown against it; they all seemed to keep drives alive. The two trick plays went over like lead balloons. Preparation and intensity seemed to be lacking. Grade: D-
OVERALL — Losing at home to a team that had lost 23 straight road games, a team that was 2-10 and was terrible at offense vs. just about everyone else, is nearly beyond comprehension. This should have been a coronation ball. Instead, it turned out to be a comedy of errors. 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.
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