Travis took more steps forward, it's a process and he's still learning. But I'm very pleased with what he's done as a true freshman. —Utah coach Kyle Whittingham
SALT LAKE CITY — While it wasn’t exactly an offensive extravaganza, the Ute offense showed a big improvement Saturday night, putting as many points on the scoreboard as it had the previous three games combined.
Forget the fact that Cal actually outgained the Utes 441 to 344. Many of the Bears’ yards came after the game was well in hand for the Utes, who led by 36 at one point in the fourth quarter.
Also forget the fact that three of Utah’s touchdowns weren’t scored by the offense as Reggie Dunn returned two kickoffs for TDs and the defense scored on a fumble return by Reggie Topps.
The 49 points amounted to Utah’s best output since piling up 54 against BYU last year. And the 188 yards rushing was Utah’s best of the year, way better than the 13-yard output in last year’s loss to Cal. The Utes had only gone over the 100-yard mark on the ground twice all season, in the season-opener against Northern Colorado and last week at Oregon State.
“It was good to see our offense come out and be productive,’’ said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham. “We also took care of the football for the most part.’’
The Utes had come into the game 114th in total offense and 109th in the nation in rushing, averaging just 105 yards per game. But the Utes finally got their running game going.
John White led the Utes with 105 yards on 22 carries, while Kelvin York picked up 51 yards before leaving the game with a foot injury in the third quarter. For White it marked the 10th time over 100 yards and every time it has resulted in a victory.
“It was a good day for us — we got after it on the run,’’ said White. “The running game was there. Just keep feeding us and we’re going to bust it. The holes were there and we had to keep driving our legs and get those extra yards and fight for our touchdowns. We knew if we kept pounding the defense it would open up eventually.’’
For freshman QB Travis Wilson, it was his first win as a starter. He finished with 16-of-24 completions for 156 yards and a rushing touchdown from 5 yards out.
“We just needed to execute,’’ said Wilson.“We just had more confidence in ourselves and we just played with heart and showed that we could get stuff done. John’s been doing great and he really picked it up tonight.’’
The Utes had just one turnover on the night — an intercepted pass in the end zone because of a miscommunication when Wilson’s receiver went the wrong direction and left a Cal DB all by himself.
“Travis took more steps forward,’’ said Whittingham. “It’s a process and he’s still learning. But I’m very pleased with what he’s done as a true freshman."