ESPN, Sports Illustrated and Fox Sports South all named Andy Phillips to the midseason All-American teams. Saturday, Phillips missed two field goals in Utah’s 35-24 loss to Arizona. The Utes were trailing by four late in the fourth quarter, when Phillips, a freshman, had been a perfect 11-of-11 entering the game.
An injured Travis Wilson yielded to sophomore quarterback Adam Schulz after halftime, when Utah (4-3, 1-3 Pac-12) made its move, taking a lead after trailing 20-7 at intermission.
Rhett Wilkinson is a project manager for UtahPolicy.com and hails the true-blooded Aggies from Utah. The co-founder of magazine Aggie BluePrint.com, he's been an intern for the Deseret News and other publications. email@example.com | @wilklogan
All spring, former walk-on Adam Schulz pushed Travis Wilson for the starting quarterback job. Saturday, Schulz proved his mettle, even though Utah gained just 320 total yards. Its point total was 13 below its average but five higher than the average allowed by the Arizona defense, 21st in the nation in points allowed.
Schulz started the game 5 of 5. Early in the third quarter, the offense capitalized on an Arizona fumbled punt return with a 17-yard touchdown drive.
Schulz suffered back-to-back sacks in his own territory late in the third quarter and followed that with a three-and-out on Utah’s first drive of the fourth quarter. Then running back Bubba Poole lost four yards on two carries in the red zone, leading to the second of Phillips’ missed field goals from 42 yards.
Travis Wilson’s finger on his throwing hand was injured before he yielded to Schultz after halftime. Wilson went 3 of 9 with two interceptions in the first half. One was a pick-six in the second quarter.
Star receiver Dres Anderson had just two receptions.
With 6:29 left in the fourth quarter, tackle L.T. Tuipulotu forced a fumble recovered by defensive end Trevor Reilly at the Arizona 38-yard line. It gave the offense a legitimate chance to take its second lead of the game.
The Utah defense early in the fourth quarter caused Arizona to lose more yards than it needed to gain for a first down. That also set up its teammates on offense to allow Phillips to convert a 44-yard field goal.
Utah linebacker Jared Norris stopped the Wildcats on a fourth down run at the Ute 45, giving Schulz great field position before his flea-flicker touchdown throw early in the third quarter. That gave Utah a 21-20 lead.
The Wildcats also failed to convert a fourth-and-9 at the Utah 35.
The Utah defense forced three straight Arizona three-and-outs as the offense made its move in the third quarter.
Phillips’ misses proved to be the difference in the contest.
Utah’s punt team recovered a fumble by Arizona’s return team at the Wildcat 17 early in the third quarter. That led to a touchdown. The Utes couldn’t come up with another fumble by the Wildcat return team in their own territory early in the third quarter.
Dres Anderson didn’t return a kickoff when the Utes were trailing by 11 with just 90 seconds remaining.
Phillips’ struggles and Wilson’s rough play had plenty more to do with the defeat than any coaching decisions made on the sideline or in the box. Phillips’ missed kick late in the fourth quarter did come with Utah trailing 28-24 and facing fourth-and-5 just outside its red zone. Kyle Whittingham and staff may have been second-guessing not going for the first down on that occasion.
It seemed like Utah had made a much-needed stride forward in its third year of the Pac-12 with a win last week over Stanford. That is on pause after the Utes couldn’t sustain enough momentum in Tucson.