Utah Gets Back On Track With Lopsided Win Over SUU

Sep 10, 2022, 3:59 PM | Updated: Sep 13, 2022, 1:54 pm

SALT LAKE CITY- Last week was disappointing for Utah after coming up short against Florida in the Swamp 29-26 on the last play of the game. The Utes knew after that game they had a lot they needed to work on heading into their home opener against Southern Utah this week. While it’s hard to know just how much the Utes have improved from week one to week two, they did everything they needed to/were expected to against the Thunderbirds beating them 73-7.


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Red Zone Efficiency

One of the more glaring aspects of Utah’s game against the Gators last week was red zone efficiency where they made six trips to the end zone, but only scored on three of them. This week was a much different story. Against Southern Utah, the Utes made seven trips to the red zone and came away with seven points.

Orchestrating that charge was quarterback Cam Rising who went 17 of 23 for 254 yards passing, with three touchdowns, and only taking one sack. His back-up Bryson Barnes was equally as good in mop-up duty going 6 of 6 for 98 yards passing and a touchdown in his limited reps. Third string quarterback Ja’Quinden Jackson didn’t throw during his time on the field, but used his legs to keep SUU on their feet before handing the ball off to freshman running back Jaylon Glover for a touchdown.

Tight end Dalton Kincaid led the receivers in Saturday’s match with seven targets for 107 receiving yards and two touchdowns. Money Parks who was raved about all of fall camp followed up with three catches for 71 yards.

In an unusual occurrence, Utah did not have a hundred yard rusher in today’s game, but instead used four running backs fairly evenly. Leading the rushing charge was Chris Curry with six carries for 60 yards and his first career touchdown as a Ute. Jaylon Glover was next with nine carries for 55 yards and two touchdowns- also his firsts as a Ute. Tavion Thomas, generally the Utes’ workhorse was given a bit of break with 11 carries for 48 yards and two touchdowns, while Micah Bernard had three carries for 41 yards.

Aside from a five or so minute stretch in the first quarter of the game, the Utes were very efficient moving the ball and scoring at will.

Stopping The Run, Making Tackles

On the other side of the ball, and maybe the most shocking occurrence of all in last week’s match with Florida was the Utah defense’s inability to stop the run and finish tackles. Again, it is hard to say for sure how much of this is actually fixed versus just being better due to the opponent they faced, however, the Utes did exactly what they should again SUU and that is a good start.

The Utes held the Thunderbirds to just 85 yards of offense on 44 plays. (Compared to Utah’s 599 yards of offense on 71 total plays.)

Newly converted defensive end Connor O’Toole led the Utes in tackles with five. He was also credited with a half-sack. Freshman legacy linebacker Lander Barton was next with four total tackles and his first sack as a Ute. Linebackers Mohamoud Diabate and Andrew Mata’afa finished up with four and three tackles.

Utah was better when it came to havoc plays against Southern Utah as well. Most notably defensive tackle Junior Tafuna got an interception off of a deflected pass and safety RJ Hubert recorded the first pick-six of the season for Utah. Hubert’s pick-six extended Utah’s record of consecutive seasons with a scoring interception to 19 which leads the country.

Looking Ahead

Up next the Utes will play host to San Diego State in what many are labeling a “revenge” game. Last season, Utah came up short to the Aztecs in triple overtime. This season, Utah will be looking to continue improving some of their deficiencies that were exposed by Florida against better competition before then turning their attention to Pac-12 play.

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