Every game we feel like we know that we can do great things, but it’s just simple things that hold us back. —Tyler Huntley
SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s 48-17 win over UCLA Friday was an obvious breakthrough of sorts for an offense that has struggled seeking an identity. The Utes racked up a season-high 506 yards against the Bruins and posted their highest point total in a Pac-12 game in nearly a year.
The production is what Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said he envisioned this season.
“The first quarter was a rough start, but once we got into a rhythm, which we were able to get into in the second quarter, we moved the ball, made explosive plays, ran the football with physicality and efficiency and we protected the ball with zero turnovers,” Whittingham noted.
Quarterback Tyler Huntley had a strong showing. The sophomore passed for 234 yards and four touchdowns. He also rushed for 93 yards.
“You want to tailor-make your offense to your quarterback's strengths. If you have a dual threat like Tyler, you want to make sure you involve him in the run game and get him going,” Whittingham said. “There is more than one way to make an offense go. If you have a great pocket guy, just lights out throwing the football, then you gravitate in that direction. Tyler happens to be a guy that can do both.
“The games that we have won this year, he has been a big part of that. I thought it was a really good blend of running and throwing in Friday night's game. He did carry the ball 18 times, but several of those were on scrambles,” Whittingham continued. “Also, he did a much better job of not taking direct shots, making sure he got out of harm's way for the most part. He did take a few shots, but I thought it was exactly the balance we were looking for.
Utah wound up with 272 yards rushing, accounting for 53.75 percent of the offense. Balance, obviously, was a factor in keeping UCLA’s defense off guard.
“We’ve got great receivers. We’ve got a great quarterback and the run game looked, really, like it should, and we’ve got a great, young o-line,” said running back Zack Moss, who rushed for 153 yards and two touchdowns. “So, I mean, that’s what we thought we should look like the whole year.”
Moss noted that the Utes weren’t perfect but it was pretty close to what they need to do in order to be successful on offense.
Huntley, who connected on two touchdown throws to Troy McCormick as well as single scores to Darren Carrington II and Cody Ippolito, acknowledged that progress is being made.
“Every game we feel like we know that we can do great things, but it’s just simple things that hold us back,” Huntley said. “We know we can reach our potential. We’ve just got to keep working to get to that potential. We’re getting there . . . we’re almost there.”
Huntley added that the UCLA game gave a glimpse of what the Utes can do offensively.
“We’re still made a number of mistakes in that game and we’ve still got stuff to work on,” Huntley said.
Utah enters Saturday’s home game against Washington State ranked seventh in the Pac-12 in total offense (416 ypg) and eighth in scoring offense (29.4 ppg).
No. 19/20 Washington State (8-2, 5-2) at Utah (5-4, 2-4)
Saturday, 3:30 p.m.
TV: Pac-12 Networks
Radio: ESPN 700AM