Utah Utes football: Team had record-breaking drive in opener

Published: Sunday, Sept. 2 2012 4:19 p.m. MDT

Utah coach Kyle Whittingham during the Northern Colorado Bears game at the University of Utah on Thursday, August 30, 2012.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah's 41-0 season-opening win over Northern Colorado included a record-setting performance. One of the Utes' touchdown drives contained more plays and took more time off the clock than any possession in Rice-Eccles Stadium history.

The lengthy march covered 91 yards over the third and fourth quarters and increased Utah's lead to 34-0 with 12:18 left to play.

"When you have an advantage at the line of scrimmage, which we obviously did (Thursday), you should be able to do that," said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham. "So that was something that didn't completely surprise me. But to go 21 plays against any defense is a pretty good accomplishment."

Before capping things off with an eight-yard touchdown pass from Jordan Wynn to Jake Murphy, the Utes kept the drive alive by converting on third-down three times and fourth-down once.

Aside from two incomplete passes, every play gained positive yardage — the longest being an 11-yard run by Dres Anderson. The lone penalty along the way was on Utah, moving the Utes back five yards before Wynn's third-down scoring strike to Murphy.

"It was just one of those drives where we grinded it out," Wynn said while noting that the offense did a good job of staying focused. "It was definitely a grinder drive. We kind of just dinked and dunked, and took our chunks as we could get them all the way down."

NINE TIMES: Utah running back John White finished with 119 yards rushing in the season opener, topping the century mark for the ninth time in his 14-game career with the Utes.

"It means a lot to me but it means more to my offensive line, the receivers and the tight ends that block for me," White said. "Without those guys I wouldn't have those yards."

Whittingham noted that White did his thing against Northern Colorado, eluding defenders while averaging five yards per carry.

"He has a whole bag full of missed tackles he brings to each game and he starts handing them out as the game goes on," Whittingham said. "That's his game. He's a darter. He can change direction and make you look foolish at times."

SOLID DEBUT: Quarterback Travis Wilson, a true freshman, scored two touchdowns in his first college game — scoring on a pair of short runs.

"We're going to continue to expand his package of plays and we think that is going to be a weapon for us this year," Whittingham said. "He loves football and he has the right mentality, I'll tell you that. He's a tough guy."

ON THE LINE: Utah's defensive front dominated the line of scrimmage in the opener. Northern Colorado averaged just 1.5 yards rushing on 24 carries. The Bears never crossed into Ute territory the entire game.

"I feel our defensive line will match up with anyone in the conference, anyone in the country for that matter," Whittingham said. "So I have no hesitation about that."

Defensive end Joe Kruger came up big when Northern Colorado went to the air. The junior returned an interception 24 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.

"I think he's going to be a heckuva defender in the Pac-12," Whittingham said while noting that Kruger has bulked up to 280 pounds and is now much more stout, especially against the run, than in the past. "He has not lost any athleticism and I think he's a guy that's just scratching the surface with his potential."

Record-setting drive at Rice-Eccles Stadium

Utah vs. Northern Colorado

Plays: 21 (91 yards)

Time of possession: 10:49

1. John White 7-yard run to the Utah 16

2. John White 5-yard run to the Utah 21 (1st down)

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