Three Takeaways From Utah’s Last Meeting With Arizona As Members Of Pac-12

Nov 18, 2023, 6:09 PM | Updated: Nov 20, 2023, 11:12 am

TUCSON, AZ – This won’t be the last time Utah and Arizona ever meet, but it is the last as members of the Pac-12 Conference. Next year both will be members of the Big 12.

Both teams came into the game ranked. Both teams came into the game with a 7-3 record. Only one could walk away victorious and it wasn’t Utah.

Arizona came out swinging and put the Utes on their heels from the jump resulting in a 42-18 loss for Utah.

Here are three takeaways from Utah and Arizona’s last meeting as Pac-12 members.

Takeaway No. 1: Injuries Really Suck

It had been a few weeks since the Utes had received bad news on the injury-front and that stopped today with three key players noticeably absent, and one being used sparingly.

Utah was without safety Cole Bishop, linebacker Karene Reid, and defensive end Jonah Elliss who Whitt revealed after the game is out for the remainder of the season.

Safety and two-way star Sione Vaki played but didn’t have near the moments we’re used to him having.

That’s in addition to the long list of season-ending injuries the Utes already had and probably other players who are dinged up but still able to play.

Utah didn’t lose this game solely because of the injuries.

There were plenty of other issues that contributed to that, but it can’t be stated enough how demoralizing it must be as a team to learn a few more bodies were added to that list of guys missing time in a big game.

I think that showed, particularly early in the game and by then it was too late to really recover and get back on track.

It’s been a tough, tough year for this team in that regard.

“Jonah was season ending,” Whittingham said. “Karene- he’s pretty banged up. Maybe a bowl game. Cole Bishop, hopefully he’s able to play next week. It’s just what we’ve been dealing with all season long. It’s nothing new for us.”

Takeaway No. 2: Despite Struggles, There Were Some Great Receiver Moments

Not much went right for the Utes today, but the Utah pass catchers had some nice moments and logged some good numbers.

After being very quiet early in the season, Vele has emerged as a reliable weapon for Bryson Barnes down the stretch.

For the third week in a row, Vele was incredibly productive for the Utes leading the receivers with nine catches for 111 yards, and one touchdown.

Right behind him was Munir McClain with six catches for 70 yards and one touchdown while tight end Landen King continued to make his presence felt on the field with four catches for 63 yards.

In all, those three accounted for a big chunk of Utah’s 320 passing yards.

Takeaway No. 3: Mistakes Were A Killer

Utah football is known for being tough and disciplined. The Utes certainly played tough and never gave up, but the discipline we’re used to seeing week in and week out stayed in Salt Lake.

A significantly slow start combined with a blocked punt, two interceptions, seven penalties at key moments for 55 yards, three sacks for a loss of 15 yards and seven tackles for loss allowed for a loss of 29 yards isn’t exactly going to cut it going against another Top 25 team.

Some of these issues (the penalties in particular) have been present all season long, but the Utes have been in a position to overcome them for the most part. Not today though, and that’s unfortunate.

Hopefully Utah gets some of these things cleaned up to finish the last two games of their season strong.

Michelle Bodkin is the Utah Utes Insider for 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 Last Meeting With Arizona As Members Of Pac-12