UTAH UTES

Three Takeaways From Florida Vs. Utah

Aug 31, 2023, 10:24 PM | Updated: Sep 1, 2023, 10:45 am

SALT LAKE CITY – Florida may have gotten the better of the Utes last year in the Swamp, but Utah got the last laugh at home in 2023.

With Cam Rising sitting, Barnes and Johnson took turns leading the Utah offense against the Gators, taking advantage of lots of costly Florida mistakes.

Subsequently, Utah’s defense was opportunistic and flew to the ball for most of the night helping to create those mistakes.

Here are three takeaways from Utah’s 24-11 victory over the Florida Gators to open the season.

Takeaway No. 1: Sack Lake City Is Back

Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham said the defense was the story of the game and it’s hard to argue that when looking over the numbers.

Florida walked away with only 13 rushing yards. They did rack up 333 yards passing, but they only had one touchdown that came in the fourth quarter to show for it.

The Utes also brought back “Sack Lake City” posting five sacks for a loss of 47 yards for the Gators. The Utah defense also brought in one interception.

“The defense was suffocating,” Whittingham said. The defense was the storyline of the game. Didn’t allow them to get a touchdown until the fourth quarter and had a bunch of sacks.”

 

Takeaway No. 2: Utah Can Manage Without Cam Rising

The Utes will not want to go the entire season without QB1 Cam Rising, but they can certainly manage a game or two without him.

Bryson Barnes and Nate Johnson did a good job managing the game in Rising’s absence. It wasn’t always pretty, but both had moments where they showed they can be trusted to get it done.

Barnes’ moment came his very first play of the game- a 70-yard touchdown bomb to wide receiver Money Parks that pretty well set the tone for the rest of the game.

Johnson on the other hand did his best Anthony Richardson impression for the Florida defense, rushing his way 27-yards for a touchdown.

“I thought Andy [Ludwig] called an excellent game,” Whittingham said. “We had the two-quarterback system. Nate came in for some select plays and I thought Bryson Barnes did a nice job. What? A 67% completion- 160 yards. Not gaudy numbers but didn’t turn it over and he ran the offense.”

The Utes Kicking Game Appears To Be In Good Shape

One of the biggest hangups for the Utes the past few years has been a poor kicking game.

While there is still a lot of football left to be played, it appears Whittingham and company have found their guys in punter Jack Bouwmeester and kicker Cole Becker.

Bouwmeester averaged 51.8 yards per punt in Thursday’s opener with Florida and Becker showed he has the leg to hit 50-plus yard field goals for Utah if needed.

“I thought the punter did outstanding,” Whittingham said. “I thought Jack Bouwmeester really hit the ball well tonight. The placekicker did a pretty good job.”

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 XInstagram, and Threads: @BodkinKSLsports

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Three Takeaways From Florida Vs. Utah