Three Takeaways After Utah Football Comes Up Just Short In Seattle

Nov 11, 2023, 6:35 PM | Updated: Nov 13, 2023, 3:23 pm

SEATTLE – Utah football came ready to play against the No. 5 Washington Huskies, but the effort unfortunately came up just short in Seattle.

The first half of the game in Husky Stadium turned into a track meet with the Utes trading blows for two quarters with Washington and heading into the half with a 28-24 lead. The only other team to lead UW heading into the half this season had been ASU who the Utes handled mightily the week before, 55-3.

Unfortunately, the second half didn’t go as smoothly for the Utes who failed to score anymore points due to some poor execution and penalties (some questionable, some not) that led to a 35-28 final score in favor of Washington. The Huskies still remain the only undefeated team in the Pac-12 with just two games left in the regular season.

Takeaway No. 1: Bryson Barnes Battled Hard

No one expected Utah’s beloved pig farmer from Milford, Utah to be able to keep up with Heisman hopeful Michael Penix Jr. the way he did, particularly in the first half.

Barnes was 13-17 for 238 yards and two touchdown passes compared to Penix Jr’s 13 of 27 pass attempts for 198 yards and one touchdown at the half.

Unfortunately, the second half didn’t go as well for Barnes and really the whole team. Barnes finished the day 17-30 for 267 yards, two passing touchdowns and two interceptions. He also took off six times for 39 yards, averaging 6.5 yards per carry.

Barnes battled for his team. He’s battled for his team the entire season despite being put in some rather precarious spots- especially to start the season. The guy takes a lot of pride in what he does and has improved quite a bit since he first got the nod in Cam Rising’s place for the season.

“I mean, obviously, not great,” Barnes said of his emotions after coming up just short against UW. “We were rolling on offense in the first half and just weren’t able to find something in that second half. Losing is never fun, but I love the group of guys, I love our teammates and we are going to get through it.”

Takeaway No. 2: What Did I Just Watch?

There were a couple of key turning points in the second half that left everyone wondering, what did I just watch?

The first was probably the strangest of the two.

Utah was rolling on offense and looked like they may punch some points through, but Bryson Barnes threw his first interception of the night that was returned for 99-yards.

Now, you’re probably thinking that it was returned for 99-yards because someone stopped the receiver and you would be wrong.

The play was only 99-yards because the receiver dropped the ball on the Utah one-yard line, celebrating a pick-six a little too soon. As most of you readers may recall, Utah had a similar thing happen against Oregon in 2014 when receiver Kaelin Clay dropped the ball on the one-yard line, celebrating a would-have been touchdown a hair too soon.

Utah’s Michael Mokofisi recovered the ball and Utah’s offense went to work at their own one-yard line only to have Washington score a safety off the first play from scrimmage.

This sequence of events seemed to be the first marker of the beginning of the end for Utah in this game.

The second one was penalties. Now, while there were several calls that were absolutely Utah self-inflicted- the holding calls the offensive line has struggled with most of the season for instance, there was one that was a bit of a head scratcher.

Utah tight end Miki Suguturaga was called for offensive pass interference in the fourth quarter that took back a 13-yard reception he made. That naturally took the wind out of Utah’s sails once more.

“I’ll just say the refs got their money’s worth today,” Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham said. “I think it was 10 penalties, nine penalties and 100 yards or close to 100 yards. Whatever. I have no comment on that.”

For those keeping track at home, Utah was penalized eight times total for 97 yards and Washington was hit 11 times for exactly 100 yards. Most of the flags came in the second half of the game.

Takeaway No. 3: This Season Turned Out Much Differently For Utah Than Expected

Utah now sits at 7-3 (4-3 in Pac-12 play) on the season with no more hope of making a run for a three-peat in the Pac-12 Title race.

It’s a bit of a hard pill to swallow given what could have been if the injury bug had cooperated a little better.

Still, Utah battled and continued to find ways to stay in the race till the middle of November. A lot of teams aren’t so lucky given those circumstances.

While conference title hopes are now over, Utah still has two regular-season games and a bowl game they need to stay as sharp and focused for as possible.

Next week will be another particularly hard game on the road to Arizona with the Wildcats seemingly peaking at the right time.

Utah then needs to finish up at home against Colorado.

While not the results anyone in the building wanted, it is important for the Utes to finish strong and make a statement as they begin to round the corner into their new home in the Big 12.

“It would have taken a lot of things to happen to stay in the race- even if we would have won,” Whittingham said. “There are no guarantees for anything. We would have needed quite a bit of help, but that’s not really the forefront of our mind right now. Just disappointment that we didn’t find a way to win that thing. That’s the biggest thing, so we’ve just got to come back in Monday, watch the film and correct our deficiencies and our mistakes and get ready to play another game on Saturday. They keep coming and we’ll be ready.”

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 After Utah Football Comes Up Just Short In Seattle