SALT LAKE CITY-In their debut game as members of the PAC 12 conference, the University of Utah hosted the Montana State Bobcats in a sold out Rice Eccles Stadium. The Ute defense controlled this game from start to finish, giving Utah their first win of the season 27-10.
During the off-season, Utah Coach Kyle Whittingham hired new Offensive Coordinator, Norm Chow, to implement a pro-style offense at the University of Utah. This is a significant change from the spread offense they have been running. Because of this change, it has been expected that Utah’s offense would struggle a little at the beginning of the season.
Utah quarterback Jordan Wynn struggled from the first possession when he went three and out, both over throwing and under throwing open receivers. Utah’s defense took control on the Bobcat’s first possession when sophomore linebacker Brian Blechen picked off quarterback DeNarius McGhee’s third pass of the night and returned it for 39 yards to the Bobcat’s 8-yard line. Three plays later, DeVonte Christopher jumped up to pull in a high pass from Wynn in the end zone for a touchdown.
On Utah’s next possession, they turned to their running game. Dres Anderson had a nice 22-yard run and running back John White IV had four nice carries. Dres Anderson then made a spectacular 22-yard run to set things up for the 5-yard touchdown pass from Wynn to White IV to put the Utes up 14-0.
Utah’s defense closed out the first quarter strong, including an amazing punt block by Matt Martinez who did a flip over a lineman and blocked the punt with his foot mid flip to give the Utes the ball on the Bobcat’s 15-yard line. The blocked punt gave Utah great field position for the second time of the night, but their offense continued to struggle. Wynn threw an incomplete pass and was sacked forcing the Utes to settle for a 37-yard field goal to finish the first quarter up 17-0.
Most of the scoring occurred in the first half, with Utah taking a 24-7 lead into the locker room.
The Ute defense held on to win the game by allowing only three points in the second half. After the game, Blechen, who led the defense with two interceptions, said, “I think we played real fast and smooth and we saw a glimpse of how good we can really be.”
Utah’s passing game was “sluggish,” Whittingham said after the game. Utah only gained 101 yards passing, which doesn’t compare well to the 183 yards that the Bobcats were able to achieve. However, Utah did do well on the ground, led by White IV who had 19 carries for 150 yards.
After the game, Whittingham said, “I thought the defense played well.” He then said that his team was “less than impressive on offense. There’s no doubt about that … we’ve got to be better than that on offense.”
The Utes are surely pleased to have two extra days to work on the problems they discovered tonight. They will have their work cut out for them next Saturday when they go to Los Angeles to face No. 25 USC in the Coliseum.
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