UTAH UTES

Sione Vaki Interception Leads To Bryson Barnes Rushing Touchdown

Aug 31, 2023, 8:13 PM

Bryson Barnes Utah Utes Florida Gators...

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - AUGUST 31: Bryson Barnes #16 of the Utah Utes throws a pass during warmups before their game against the Florida Gators at Rice Eccles Stadium August 31, 2023 in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images)

(Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY – Utah made the most of Sione Vaki’s interception with the second rushing touchdown from a quarterback.

This time, it was Bryson Barnes who ran it into the end zone.

The pick was Vaki’s first as a Ute. It was also the first rushing touchdown in Barnes’ young career.

RELATED: 60 in 60 – #27 Utah’s Sione Vaki (Safety)

Barnes made the most of his start in Cam Rising’s absence. Through the first 35 minutes, Barnes connected on 10 of his 15 passes with one passing touchdown and one rushing touchdown.

Utah took a 21-3 lead over Florida with the third-quarter touchdown.

Storylines For Florida Vs. Utah: Bryson Barnes, Defense, and More

  1. Cam Rising – this should come as no surprise to anyone who has been keeping tabs of the Utes ahead of their 2023 football season. Rising has been diligently recovering from a torn ACL he suffered in the Rose Bowl earlier this year and has made great strides. However, it is looking like he may not be quite ready to start which means Utah may be playing with Bryson Barnes and/or Nate Johnson under center.
  2. Florida’s Travel To Utah – there are 2,207 miles between Gainesville, Florida and Salt Lake City, Utah that got complicated earlier in the week with Idalia strengthening into a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico. The Gators originally planned to travel to Utah on Wednesday but left a day early with a stop in Dallas, Texas to avoid being trapped by the storm. That amount of travel in one day is hard enough, but having to split it up into two is even more interesting and could have some effects on the game along with the increased elevation.
  3. Utah’s Defense – last season the Utes were not their typical, sharp selves against the Gators and it went a long way to costing them the game. Utah’s defense has not forgotten that and there has been a lot of talk about the things they have done and addressed to be better prepared this year.

 

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Two Questions Heading Into Florida Vs. Utah

    1. Can Utah beat Florida without Cam Rising? With things trending toward Rising not playing against the Gators, one of the biggest questions surrounding this game is if the Utes can survive a game or two without their QB1. Overall, backup Bryson Barnes has shown fairly well in his limited opportunities and there has been a lot of talk about Utah’s improved depth all over the team that will certainly be put to the test if Rising truly is a no-go.
    2. Who Is Florida Under Graham Mertz? Florida has undergone some changes since they met the Utes last season in Gainesville. The Anthony Richardson era is done as he moved on to the NFL and the Gators are now breaking in Wisconsin transfer Graham Mertz. Interestingly enough, a report came out this week that before landing on Mertz, the Gators looked into Utah quarterback Cam Rising. Does Mertz have what it takes to help second year Florida head coach Billy Napier move the Gators in the right direction.

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Chandler Holt is a co-host for the Jazz Notes podcast and a Digital Sports Producer for KSLSports.com, specializing in all things basketball and football. Follow Chandler on Twitter @ChandlerHoltKSL or on Threads @chandlerho1t.

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Sione Vaki Interception Leads To Bryson Barnes Rushing Touchdown