Kristin Murphy,
Utah Utes defensive back Julian Blackmon (23) pushes Oregon Ducks running back Kani Benoit (29) out of bounds during a football game at Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Ore., on Saturday, Oct. 28, 2017. Utah lost 20-41.

SALT LAKE CITY — After two weeks of facing run-oriented teams, Utah’s secondary is looking forward to facing UCLA and elite passer Josh Rosen. The Bruins are second in the Pac-12 with 354.3 passing yards per game.

“This is one of the games that us as DBs just love because we’ve got a passing team and I feel like our play has been very good this year,” said cornerback Julian Blackmon, who leads the Utes with two interceptions. “Just being able to show up in the passing game is just one thing that we all are just ready for, so we’re just excited for that challenge.”

It’s a different task compared to recent losses to Oregon and Arizona State when the Utes gave up a combined 552 yards on the ground.

“We have been in positions as a corner group, a safety group, a secondary as a whole, to play good football,” said cornerbacks coach Sharrieff Shah, who noted that Rosen is projected to be a top-round draft pick and is an unbelievable quarterback. “His ability to go through progressions and find an open man at the last second is uncanny.”

Shah said that the Utes are in position to make the flip and transfer their focus.

“Obviously you know that we’ve struggled against the run and we’ll shore those things up,” Shah said. “But this week will be on the secondary, without a doubt.”

THE RED ZONE: Utah’s 46 percent success rate scoring touchdowns in the red zone has been a popular topic inside and outside the program. Diagnosing the problem, obviously, hasn’t been easy. Even so, starting center Lo Fakemala has a pretty good idea of what needs to be fixed.

“Too many mental mistakes. Taking responsibility myself, one play you can’t go the wrong way,” Falemaka said. “… Everybody’s got to be dialed in. Everybody’s got to be on the same page.”

Falemaka added that it’s definitely something that can be fixed.

ABOUT HUNTLEY: Cornerback Casey Hughes said that quarterback Tyler Huntley brings a “swag” and “energy” to the team that “makes people want to go out there and make spectacular plays.”

Hughes said that a lot of people feed off of Huntley’s energy.

“Tyler is a big leader for our team, so having him on the field is a big difference,” Hughes said. “Honestly with Tyler, he can lead from both (on the field or the sideline). He’s the perfect example off the field.”

Contributing: Amy Donaldson


Twitter: @DirkFacer