Utah Utilizes Receivers, Suffocates On Defense In Dominating Win

Sep 18, 2022, 12:12 PM | Updated: Sep 19, 2022, 10:28 am
Kyle Whittingham - Utah Utes vs. Arizona State...
Utah Utes head coach Kyle Whittingham looks at the scoreboard near the end of the game in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021. Utah won 35-21.

SALT LAKE CITY- The Utes have been pretty good to start the 2022 season, but lacked an edge in their first two games. That changed Saturday night as they hosted San Diego State at Rice-Eccles Stadium in what many deemed a “revenge” game. While the offense took a minute to get going, once they did they were unstoppable, finally utilizing their wide receiver corps for much of the night. Defensively, Utah came out swinging from the start making life for the Aztecs miserable.

While there are still things to improve for the Utes, head coach Kyle Whittingham is encouraged by what he has seen from his squad since the season kicked off in Gainesville.

Utah Growing In The Game

The defense in particular has made bounds since a disgraceful showing at The Swamp where they recorded 27 missed tackles. Whittingham has watched the front seven grow from the experience, putting together more complete games against Southern Utah and now San Diego State where they held the Aztecs to just 173 total offensive yards.

“We’ve certainly gotten seasoned I guess you could say in the front seven,” Whittingham said. “The first game was abysmal, it was horrible. It just wasn’t who we are, but then we settled in. Last week you saw it show up, this week against an FBS opponent. They were very stout up front, they did a nice job gap-control-wise and there were no creases there. Very few places to run the football.”

Offensively Utah is working with a veteran group that has mostly performed well, though has been a little slow to start games thus far. What made the SDSU game standout for them however, was getting the receivers involved. Solomon Enis and Devaughn Vele had largely been quiet the first two games of the season, but accounted for three of Utah’s five touchdowns Saturday night.

“They made plays, they got open,” Whittingham said. “Cam [Rising] got them the ball and they made plays. Solo Enis made a couple of nice plays and had a nice run after catch after a critical- I think it was third down? It was either the second or third quarter, I can’t remember exactly when. Devaughn Vele- I’ve been talking him up all fall camp and you saw glimpses tonight of what his capabilities are. He’s a big play guy.”

Keep Adjusting

The Utes will be starting Pac-12 play this week with a trip to Tempe, Arizona to take on Arizona State. While the Sun Devils don’t appear to post too much of a threat, Utah does have big goals for themselves this season and that means continuing to work on things that need improving. Whittingham says they will be watching the film closely to see if they can start honing in on why they have been slow to start offensively which feels like the next obvious thing to fix for a team that’s finding it’s groove.

“We’ll look at the film and see if there is any common denominators between this week and last week,” Whittingham said. “Once we got going and got momentum the floodgates kind of opened and we put the game away mid third quarter.”

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Utah Utilizes Receivers, Suffocates On Defense In Dominating Win