Three Takeaways From Utah’s Run-Heavy Win Over Cal

Oct 14, 2023, 5:42 PM | Updated: Oct 16, 2023, 2:04 pm

SALT LAKE CITY – The No. 16 Utes needed to get back on track after a disappointing outing in Corvallis before their BYE week and Utah did that by deploying a run-heavy plan against Cal.

Utah beat the Golden Bears 34-14 with an aggressive gameplan on defense and being efficient on offense- particularly in the run game.

Here are three things that stood out about the Utes’ win over Cal before they turn their attention to USC in Los Angeles next week.

Takeaway No. 1: Sione Vaki Is Also Good At Offense

Everyone has been stoked about Sione Vaki on defense but he’s just as electric on offense as it turns out.

Utah’s running back room has been unmercifully depleted with both Micah Bernard and Chris Curry out for the season. Add in that Ja’Quinden Jackson had been hobbled as well, and Utah needed someone to carry the rock. Enter Vaki.

We got a small taste of the safety as a running back two weeks ago when Utah played Oregon State, but it couldn’t prepare us for what Vaki did today playing both ways against the Golden Bears.

Vaki finished the day with 15 carries for 158 yards, and two touchdowns. He ripped off a jaw-dropping 72-yard touchdown run and averaged a whopping 10.5 yards per carry.

Defensively, Vaki was good for four total tackles on the day.

Takeaway No. 2: Utah Is A Better Team When They Run

Vaki wasn’t the only menace on the ground for the Utes against Cal.

Ja’Quinden Jackson was back and looking well-rested having 22 carries for 94 yards and one touchdown. Quarterback Bryson Barnes added his own stats into the mix on eight carries for 50 yards and one touchdown.

Additionally, Jaylon Glover had six carries for 12 yards and John Randle Jr. made an appearance with two carries for three yards.

As a unit the Utah offense rushed 53 times for 317 yards and four touchdowns. We’d be remiss if we didn’t give some love to the offensive line for the effort as well.

Takeaway No. 3: Win The Takeover Battle, Win The Game

Utah’s defense had two key takeaways that helped the offense put additional points on the board.

Linebacker Lander Barton brought down his second interception of the season while safety Cole Bishop made a heads up play on a forced fumble from defensive end Jonah Elliss.

On the other side of the ball, Bryson Barnes walked away with no turnovers of any kind, though one or two passes were close.

Still, everyone did their job in the turnover battle and are now sitting 5-1 before their big road trip to Los Angeles next week.

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 Utah’s Run-Heavy Win Over Cal