The Utes started off their season with a 56-14 win over Idaho State, and it's time to hand out some grades.
After a slow start on their first drive of the game, the new fast-paced offense put in by offensive coordinator Dave Christensen started humming right along. While only playing the first half, quarterback Travis Wilson went 13-for-18 with 265 yards and a touchdown and delivered one of the more exciting plays of the night with a Superman-like leap into the end zone for a score. Devontae Booker rushed well, but a fumble by Troy McCormick tarnished an otherwise successful night for the Ute offense.
The Utes' usual stingy front seven was rushed for 179 yards, including 133 by Idaho State’s Xavier Finney. In a trend that continues from last season, the Utah defense failed to force a turnover against a squad it had athletic advantages over at every position. Still the defense only allowed 14 points and made sure it held strong when the Bengals got close to the red zone.
Special teams: A
Kaelin Clay returned two kicks for touchdowns and Australian punter Tom Hackett showed he still has his special boot. Clay took a punt return to the end zone in the second quarter and had another house call in the third after a 100-yard end-to-end scamper. Hackett picked up from where he was last year, showing he still has the ability to magically pin opponents at their goal-line.
Head coach Kyle Whittingham knew that his team was going to win this game. Idaho State was an inferior opponent and no amount of scheming was going to keep it close. Utah didn’t expose its full offensive arsenal, and Whittingham emptied his bench in the second half to give his young players some experience. With the opponent on the other sideline, this was an easy night for the coaches.
Idaho State: A
The Bengals came out aggressive and even sent some shivers down Utes fans' spines when they had back-to-back long drives in the first quarter, one of which tied the game at 7-7. Idaho State competed hard throughout the night, and quarterback Justin Arias gave the Utah defense fits at times.
Utah officially announced an attendance of 45,925, or the fifth largest crowd in Rice-Eccles Stadium history. Even with the new bleachers, that is some generous counting. Red seats and empty bleachers were easily seen throughout the stadium throughout the contest and the crowd had little effect on the game. Be it the opponent, the early start time or the blowout, the Ute fans were not their normal loud selves.