UTAH UTES

Lander Barton Intercepts Cal To Give Utah Much-Needed Momentum

Oct 14, 2023, 1:56 PM

utah-defense-celebrates-lander-bartons-pick-six-against-weber-state-2023...

Utah Utes teammates celebrate Utah Utes linebacker Lander Barton (20) after his interception and touchdown during the third quarter of their game against the Weber State Wildcats at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2023. The Utah Utes won the game with a final score of 31-7. (Photo Cred: Megan Nielson, Deseret News)

(Photo Cred: Megan Nielson, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY – Utah trailed Cal 7-0 in the second quarter when linebacker Lander Barton intercepted Golden Bears QB Fernando Mendoza.

The turnover set up the Utes on Cal’s side of the field.

The pick was Barton’s second of the season.

He returned a pick-six against the Weber State Wildcats earlier this year.

RELATED: Lander Barton Intercepts Weber State QB, Takes It Back For Six

The Utes looked to capitalize on the turnover and even the score in Rice-Eccles Stadium.

Three Storylines For Cal Vs. Utah Football

  1. Cam Rising. This storyline took an interesting turn over the BYE week with Cam and his doctor opening up more about what has been going on with his injury and recovery. Earlier in the week we ran an interesting article on the topic penned by former Ute and sports personality Sean O’Connell that is worth the read if you haven’t already. Needless to say, despite best efforts to get back out onto the field of play, patience will be needed for Rising’s return moving forward.
  2. Injuries. At this point, do you laugh or cry about this as a Ute fan? It feels like the number of guys going down versus the amount coming back has reached comical proportions for this team despite on paper looking like a solid crew. Head coach Kyle Whittingham announced earlier in the week that running back Chris Curry suffered a second season-ending injury. Who comes back from the BYE week break? Will they be impactful returns that help (particularly) the offense find a groove? Can Utah get through this game without adding to the injury list?
  3. Utah’s Defense Faces Another Freshman QB. Cal will be rolling with freshman quarterback Fernando Mendoza on Saturday at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Utah’s defense has a long history of feasting on up-and-coming freshmen quarterbacks when they come to SLC- just ask UCLA’s signal caller Dante Moore. Still, Mendoza has already put up a pretty good fight against a good Oregon State defense last weekend going 21-32 for 207 yards two touchdowns and one interception.

 

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Two Questions Heading Into Utah Vs. UCLA

  1. Who Will Be Available? Utah needs some bodies back ASAP without reinjuring or injuring a new player that has been fine up to this point. Can the Utes get a Mycah Pittman back this week? Cole Becker? Ja’Quinden Jackson? Munir McClain? Etc. Etc. Etc. Any or all of those guys plus the others not listed could really help bolster what the Utes are trying to do here. They sit at 4-1. All is not lost, but they desperately need to get some of their talent back to keep pushing forward.
  2. Did Utah Have Enough Time To Get Their Offense On Track? The answer to this question is very reliant on the first question. I do not believe Utah’s offense needs to put up 35-40 points to win this game as long as the defense and special teams keep doing what they are doing. They just need to be more efficient, run the clock/play keep away, and collect points when they run out of real estate. I don’t need to tell you any of this, but Utah did none of those things against Oregon State in their first loss of the season. They barely did it in their win against UCLA the week before that. Quarterback Nate Johnson knows he has work he needs to continue to do to get better, but the coaching staff and the players around him need to take some things off his plate as well.

 

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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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Lander Barton Intercepts Cal To Give Utah Much-Needed Momentum