Utah’s Van Fillinger Out For Season With Injury
SALT LAKE CITY – Head coach Kyle Whittingham announced that Utah defensive lineman Van Fillinger is out for the rest of the season.
Fillinger suffered a season-ending lower leg injury. Whittingham did not discuss the details of the injury.
Fillinger did not play during Saturday’s game against Arizona, which was his first missed game of the season.
Van Fillinger is out for the season with a lower leg injury. Won't make it back for anything post-season. Will be missed the rest of the way. #Utes
— KSL Sports (@kslsports) November 7, 2022
Whittingham said there is no chance that the star pass rusher will return for the post-season and that he will be missed.
He has 18 tackles and five sacks for the Utes in 2022. Fillinger came to the Utes from Corner Canyon high school, this season is his “sophomore” year due to the COVID season.
The Utes crushed the Arizona Wildcats, despite a plethora of injuries with a score of 45-20.
The Utes’ next game is Saturday at 8:00 p.m. at Rice Eccles Stadium against the Stanford Cardinal.
It seemed obvious going into this week’s game that it wouldn’t be pretty. The weather report got progressively worse as the week went on, and it felt like Utah’s health as well. Still, the Utes came away victorious 45-20 against Arizona, getting them one step closer to potentially taking a repeat visit to Las Vegas for a Pac-12 Championship.
Despite not being the most cosmetically pleasing game, Utah did a lot of things really well, and like most games, there were a few bummers as well. Here are a few instant takeaways.
Whittingham says Saturday was a total team effort, offense scored a lot of points, defense played really well, special teams did some good things.
Last home game against Stanford, honoring seniors and some underclassmen. #GoUtes
— KSL Sports (@kslsports) November 7, 2022
No Dalton, No Problem
A big theme in this round of takeaways is going to be players stepping up, because they did. Tight end Dalton Kincaid is not easy to replace production-wise. Especially considering Utah was already down Brant Kuithe as well.
Receiver Devaughn Vele and tight end Thomas Yassmin didn’t have huge receiving games- partially due to the weather, but they did enough to help keep the Wildcat defense honest.
Vele posted five catches for 57 yards, while Yassmin accounted for two catches, 42 yards and a touchdown.
Receiver Jaylen Dixon was another target both in the pass and run game. Catching the ball Dixon brought in four receptions for 34 yards. Dixon only carried the ball once for seven yards, but they were the most important seven yards as they led to Utah’s tone-setting first touchdown of the night.
Run It, Run It
Some of Utah’s men weren’t on the floor, so indeed, they chose to run it, run it. 55 times for 306 yards to be exact.
Leading the charge was quarterback-turned-running back Ja’Quinden Jackson with 13 carries for 97 yards and a touchdown. Hot on his heels was freshman running back Jaylon Glover with eight carries for 69 yards.
Micah Bernard also had a triumphant return after primarily being used as a blocker last week due to being a little banged up. Bernard carried the ball 12 times for the Utes for 48 yards.
Perhaps the biggest highlight in the run game though was the use of freshman quarterback Nate Johnson in a wildcat package who three carries for 38 yards and two touchdown- the first of Johnson’s collegiate career.
— KSL Sports (@kslsports) November 6, 2022
Don’t Call It A Comeback
Tavion Thomas was back for the Utes and looking like his old self. Thomas has largely been missing in 2022 after many expected him to play another large role for Utah. While he maybe hasn’t been available the way most envisioned for the entire season, he did come through when his team needed him most.
Thomas had a handful of big plays on special teams making some timely tackles. He also helped bolster Utah’s run game in the second half when both Jackson and Glover exited the game. The T-Train accounted for eight carries for 38 yards when Utah just needed to keep moving the chains and eating up clock.
A Fumble Here, A Sack There
Utah’s defense posted another strong performance. Yes, Arizona did put up 387 yards of total offense. They have done that to just about everyone they have played. What mattered however was not allowing scores.
Until the second and third string came into the game with around 10 minutes left to play, the Wildcats only had 10 points to show for a ton of yards gained.
Cornerbacks JaTravis Broughton and Zemaiah Vaughn were very aggressive in their pursuit all night long making big play, after big play for the Utah defense. Broughton ended the night with six total tackles and one sack. Vaughn had three huge pass breakups.
Altogether, the Utah defense recorded three more sacks to the eight they have had the two games before. They also had four pass breakups and two forced fumbles.
Safety Clayton Isbell, linebacker Karene Reid, defensive tackle Semote Pepa, defensive end Jonah Elliss and many others aside from Broughton and Vaughn had big plays when they mattered most and it reflected in the result of the game even with key players out or limited.
The biggest bummer of tonight’s game was seeing Jackson and Glover exit the game early and not return. There have been some rough moments the past few weeks as they have been working to establish themselves as college running backs, but tonight it felt like the game was slowing down and they were hitting their holes with accuracy and tenacity.
It is unknown if either player will miss much time right now- Whittingham said in his post-game press conference they would know more tomorrow, but with any luck they both can continue on the upward trajectory they have started to end the 2022 season.
Michelle Bodkin is the Utah Utes Insider for KSLsports.com and host of both the Crimson Corner Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and The Saturday Show (Saturday from 10 a.m.–12 p.m.) on The KSL Sports Zone. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram: @BodkinKSLsports
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