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Utah Utes football report card: Utah defense saves the day as offense sputters

Published: Friday, Aug. 28 2015 4:13 a.m. MDT

Montana State Bobcats punter Rory Perez (18) is blocked by Utah Utes linebacker (52) Matt Martinez's foot as Utah Utes defensive back Greg Bird (35) and Utah Utes linebacker Boo Andersen (45) apply pressure an as the University of Utah plays their opening football game against Montana State  Thursday, Sept. 1, 2011, in Salt Lake City, Utah.  (Tom Smart, Deseret News)  (Tom Smart, Deseret News) Montana State Bobcats punter Rory Perez (18) is blocked by Utah Utes linebacker (52) Matt Martinez's foot as Utah Utes defensive back Greg Bird (35) and Utah Utes linebacker Boo Andersen (45) apply pressure an as the University of Utah plays their opening football game against Montana State Thursday, Sept. 1, 2011, in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Tom Smart, Deseret News) (Tom Smart, Deseret News)

Maybe Jordan Wynn is still nursing a sore shoulder. (It should be better by now, right?)

Maybe the junior quarterback is still uncomfortable in Norm Chow's offense. (He's had a while to digest it.)

Or maybe the Montana State Bobcats play some fierce defense. (They gave up 61 points to Sacramento State last season.)

Whatever the case, Utah's Wynn-led offense looked hesitant and uncomfortable Thursday night against Montana State.

OFFENSE: Wynn averaged just three yards per attempt in the first half and finished with just 101 yards on a 15-of-23 night. Wynn didn't turn the ball over, but did not complete a pass deeper than about 15 yards in the air downfield. It was all dumps and screens. On the bright side, running back John White IV, a junior college transfer originally from Torrance, Calif., lived up to a lot of the hype surrounding him by averaging eight yards a carry in compiling 150 yards on 19 carries. But only 27 points? Grade: C

Utah Utes running back John White IV (15) scores as the University of Utah plays their opening football game against Montana State  Thursday, Sept. 1, 2011, in Salt Lake City, Utah.  (Tom Smart, Deseret News)  (Tom Smart, Deseret News) Utah Utes running back John White IV (15) scores as the University of Utah plays their opening football game against Montana State Thursday, Sept. 1, 2011, in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Tom Smart, Deseret News) (Tom Smart, Deseret News)

DEFENSE: Brian Blechen looked, at times, like a cross between Eric Weddle and Paul Kruger. He flew around for a pile of tackles and a pair of interceptions, one of which set up Utah's first touchdown. The Utes secondary also did a great job at containing Elvis Akpla, who is a big-play receiver. He did get loose for a 47-yard grab, but that's it. Grade: A–

SPECIAL TEAMS: With all the concern over the placekicking game in training camp, Coleman Peterson was solid as a rock, nailing a pair of field goals (one from 44 yards) and consistently kicking the ball deep on kickoffs. Sean Sellwood averaged 38 yards a punt. Grade: B

COACHING: Norm Chow's offense used schemes to get White some big holes, but it looked as if the Utes were afraid to take any shots downfield. Some boos late in the game told the real story of the bland offense. Kalani Sitake's defense was stout, but had to get tired of chasing DeNarius McGhee. One fake punt worked out well deep in Utah territory, thanks to athleticism of Sellwood. Grade: B

Utah's Brian Blechen intercepts a pass meant for Montana's Elvis Akpla as the Utes host the Montana State Bobcats at Rice Eccles Stadium on the campus of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Sept. 1, 2011.   (Mike Terry, Deseret News) Utah's Brian Blechen intercepts a pass meant for Montana's Elvis Akpla as the Utes host the Montana State Bobcats at Rice Eccles Stadium on the campus of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Sept. 1, 2011. (Mike Terry, Deseret News)

OVERALL: Like the popular, but tiny, slider hamburger, Utah left its fans wanting more. More points. More big plays. More play makers. But hey, it WAS a win. GRADE: B–

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