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Nate Johnson Sneaks In End Zone To Open Scoring For Utah

Sep 16, 2023, 12:20 PM

nate-johnson-scores-touchdown-against-florida-at-rice-eccles-stadium-2023...

Utah Utes quarterback Nate Johnson (13) scores a touchdown against the Florida Gators in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Aug. 31, 2023 during the season opener. (Photo Credit: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.)

(Photo Credit: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.)

SALT LAKE CITY – On Utah’s opening drive, they made it all the way to the one-yard line where Nate Johnson called his own number with a QB sneak.

The touchdown was Johnson’s third rushing score of the season.

Utah’s scoring drive came after the Ute defense forced a three-and-out on the Wildcat’s opening possession.

Weber State nearly stuffed Utah on the goalline. They forced a fourth down but the Utes were able to run straight up the middle for the touchdown.

A 33-yard gain by WR Munir McClain set up Utah in Wildcats territory.

Three Storylines For Weber State Vs. Utah

  1. Nate Johnson- Johnson is the latest hero for the Utes after leading them on back-to-back scoring drives in the fourth quarter against Baylor to tie and eventually win the game. Not only did the effort win the game for Utah, it earned Johnson the second-string job behind starter Cam Rising after initially coming into the season as the fourth-string guy. Over the past two seasons, Johnson has gotten quite a bit of play, but mostly with his feet. Presumably he will be starting against Weber State and fans will get to see more of what he can do passing the ball.
  2. Cam Rising – Will fans finally get to see QB1 out on the field this week? There has been some talk he could get the all-clear from his doctors for this one and Utah might want to give him a series or two to knock some rust off in a fairly safe environment. Does that happen? I still believe we likely don’t see Bad Moon till Pac-12 play, but it’s certainly something to keep an eye on.
  3. Checking Out Utah’s Cupboard – Head coach Kyle Whittingham has mentioned a few times that there are pros and cons to starting the season with two P5 teams versus mostly FCS teams. The biggest pro is you get a real sense of where you are at in comparison to other top talent in the country early on. The con is it is maybe a little hard to get a feel for where your backups and depth are at. This Weber State game however should provide the Utah coaches ample chances to evaluate their team behind the starters without needing to “play it safe” and it could be very interesting to see how some guys look.

 

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Two Questions Heading Into Weber State Vs. Utah

  1. What does the offense look like fully under Nate Johnson? We’ve gotten some sampling of what Nate Johnson can do (mostly of what he can do with his legs), but what does this thing look like when the plan is fully for him and he’s given more discretion to throw the ball? The Wildcats obviously won’t be the toughest test for Johnson, but they are a great team to break him in and see what he can do for the offense until Rising is ready to come back.
  2. Who plays, how much, and who sits out? This is a game that Utah could play all of their backups and still be fine in. Will that primarily be what they do, or will they want to let some of their starters in to just continue cleaning somethings up? How long will guys stay in before they get switched out? To me, it will be interesting to see how the Utes choose to use this final out-of-conference game before heading into what looks like to be one of the toughest Pac-12 schedules Utah has ever played.

 

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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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Nate Johnson Sneaks In End Zone To Open Scoring For Utah