Utah coach Kyle Whittingham wasn't concerned that his team would look past winless New Mexico and ahead to Saturday's showdown at undefeated TCU.
"Not at all. Our guys watch the tape. They're smart guys. They see our deficiencies and understand we've got a lot to work on," Whittingham said after the Utes' 45-14 victory over the Lobos at Rice-Eccles Stadium. "That was evident when we watched the tape of the Wyoming game."
Last week's come-from-behind win over the Cowboys, which featured the collegiate debut of quarterback Jordan Wynn and a switch in play callers from Dave Schramm to Aaron Roderick, led to a more spirited effort this time around.
Contributions were plentiful in Utah's most convincing win of the season.
"Overall we did what we should have done. We won the football game," Whittingham said. "We have a big one coming up this week."
Wide receiver Jereme Brooks noted that the Utes picked up some momentum with a solid all-around game before facing the Horned Frogs in Fort Worth.
Brooks had a stellar outing with two touchdowns and a career-high 135 yards receiving. Running backs Eddie Wide and Sausan Shakerin finished with 145 and 100 yards, respectively, on the ground to help the nationally ranked Utes improve to 8-1 overall and 5-0 in Mountain West Conference play.
"Everybody gave a good effort tonight and it paid off," said Wide, who set a school-record with his sixth consecutive 100-yard game. "We've just got to continue with it and see where it takes us."
Wynn became just the third true freshman to start at quarterback for Utah, joining Ken Vierra (1981) and Scott Cate (1982) since the NCAA restored eligibility to freshmen in 1972.
The 19-year-old from Oceanside, Calif., who replaced eight-game starter Terrance Cain, completed 18-of-28 passes for 297 yards and two touchdowns.
"I thought I played a solid game. Obviously I'll find mistakes in the film room on Monday," Wynn said. "But I feel good about how I played tonight."
The offense, however, struggled early on. A bad snap led to a 13-yard loss and stymied Utah's first drive.
Wynn and company fared much better the second time around. They converted on third-down situations twice en route to the game's first score. Both came on passes from Wynn to Jereme Brooks. The second — on third-and-10 — was a 69-yard touchdown pass with 5:52 to play in the first quarter.
"We just needed a big play to start off something real fast," Brooks said. "It was a great pass by Jordan."
Joe Phillips added the PAT to give Utah a 7-0 lead.
The advantage didn't last for long.
Less than two minutes later, New Mexico evened things up on a 59-yard scoring strike from Donovan Porterie to Ty Kirk. The score came on third-and-17.
Utah's woes continued on the ensuing possession when Wynn was intercepted by New Mexico cornerback Emmanuel McPhearson on the Lobo 14-yard line.
The momentum, though, shifted in the second quarter.
After forcing New Mexico to punt, the Utes embarked on a 15-play, 81-yard scoring drive that took 6:37 off the clock. A 1-yard touchdown run by Wide capped things off. The junior kept the drive alive two plays earlier when he gained two yards on fourth-and-1 from the New Mexico 3.
"Eddie's play has been the most important facet of our offensive production during the last six games," Whittingham said.
Leading 14-7, the Utes added a 24-yard field goal by Phillips before the half was complete.
Utah continued to roll after the break, doing so at an accelerated pace.
The Utes scored three touchdowns in the first 11:54 of the third quarter to pull away from the Lobos. The outburst began with a 20-yard TD pass from Wynn to Shakerin. It was followed by scoring runs from Brooks (29 yards off a reverse) and Wide (35 yards) as the Utes expanded their lead to 38-7.
"In the first half our defense executed well and contained the run," said New Mexico coach Mike Locksley. "In the second half we didn't come out as strong as we hoped."
Utah entered the final quarter with 502 yards of total offense. The Utes' defense, meanwhile, really put the clamps on New Mexico in the third quarter, holding the Lobos to just two first downs, 14 plays and only 33 yards.
"We didn't do anything different," said linebacker Stevenson Sylvester. "The second half is how we wanted to start the game."
Defensive backs Brandon Burton and Ryan Lacy intercepted passes by game's end. The latter led to a fourth-quarter touchdown drive. Shakerin capped things off for Utah with an 8-yard run.
Trailing 45-7, New Mexico concluded all scoring in the contest with a 15-yard TD pass from B.R. Holbrook to Victor James with 17 seconds left to play.
If failed, however, to tarnish Utah's sixth-straight victory.
"It's good to get another win under our belt," Whittingham said. "We performed much better in the second half. Jordan Wynn played well and we were very happy with his performance. He's not playing like a true freshman. Eddie Wide had another big night and really got loose in the second half."
Now comes TCU.
"I'm going to be ready. We're going to be ready," Wynn said. "It's going to be a great game and I can't wait."
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