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Utah Utes football: Turnovers, untimely penalties doom Utes' first home Pac-12 contest

Published: Saturday, Oct. 1 2011 8:46 p.m. MDT

Utah Utes wide receiver Dres Anderson (6)makes a diving catch fo a TD as Utah and Washington play Saturday, Oct. 1, 2011 at Rice Eccles Stadium. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News) Utah Utes wide receiver Dres Anderson (6)makes a diving catch fo a TD as Utah and Washington play Saturday, Oct. 1, 2011 at Rice Eccles Stadium. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

In its first home game of their Pac-12 adventure, untimely turnovers and penalties, combined with a key injury and clumsy breakdowns on defense turned the game into a nightmare for the University of Utah. Washington ended up dominating the contest, 31-14, as the Utes dropped to 0-2 in Pac-12 play.

Five major keys to Utah’s loss:

Turnovers. The game began with one when Charles Henderson fumbled the opening kickoff, resulting in a touchdown after Jamaal Kearse scooped up the ball and ran it in for a touchdown. The Utes’ other giveaways also came at crucial times. A Jordan Wynn interception and a Dres Anderson fumble both came in the red zone, and a second-half pick by Jon Hays was followed by a Washington touchdown a few plays later.

Penalties. The Utes committed only four infractions, but two of them were of the personal foul variety, and both of those came on the same drive. That Washington possession was its last of the first half, and both a late hit and roughing-the-passer penalty allowed first downs and enabled the Huskies to extend the drive. The end result was a 44-yard field goal by the Huskies’ Erik Folk to end the half. Just as important was the momentum gained by taking a 10-7 lead. Washington built on that when they got the ball first in the third quarter, immediately increasing that advantage.

Utah Utes wide receiver Dres Anderson (6)makes a diving catch fo a TD as Utah and Washington play Saturday, Oct. 1, 2011 at Rice Eccles Stadium. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News) Utah Utes wide receiver Dres Anderson (6)makes a diving catch fo a TD as Utah and Washington play Saturday, Oct. 1, 2011 at Rice Eccles Stadium. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

Keith Price. In a gutsy performance due to playing hurt for most of the game, the Washington quarterback wasn’t perfect, but he was efficient. Price had command of the Huskies’ offense, and he seemed to move the ball with ease and at will, getting chunks of yardage when it was needed. Price finished with 226 yards on 22-of-30 passing along with three touchdown tosses, and was simply too much for the Utes to handle.

Utah’s rushing defense. Entering the game, Utah was giving up an average of only 79 yards on the ground. Against the Huskies, things were an entirely different story. Tailback Chris Polk had a stellar game, racking up 189 yards on 29 rushes. Polk’s shredding of Utah’s run defense – ripping off an average of 6.5 yards per carry – allowed the Huskies to stay on the field and further tire out Utah.

The loss of Jordan Wynn. The Utah signal-caller – who looked more comfortable in the pocket than in previous games – went out with an injury in the third quarter. Wynn seemed to be trusting his receivers and offensive line more, and as a result was keeping his team in the game in the second half. But when his injury resulted in his replacement Jon Hays being under center, virtually all of that progress on offense stopped, and the Utes didn’t score again until the final minute of the game.

Utah Utes wide receiver Dres Anderson (6), left, celebrates a TD catch with teammate Utah Utes wide receiver Luke Matthews (11) as Utah and Washington play Saturday, Oct. 1, 2011 at Rice Eccles Stadium. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News) Utah Utes wide receiver Dres Anderson (6), left, celebrates a TD catch with teammate Utah Utes wide receiver Luke Matthews (11) as Utah and Washington play Saturday, Oct. 1, 2011 at Rice Eccles Stadium. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

Chris, who has been covering sports ranging from high school preps to professional teams for almost twenty years, feels that football season is the best time of the year. He can be reached at chrispeterson7@msn.com.

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