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SALT LAKE CITY -- In a must win game for the Utes to avoiding being 0-2 in the Pac-12, Utah completely failed to perform, losing to the Washington Huskies 31-14 in their home opener. After beating their in-state rival BYU two weeks ago, Utah looked like an inexperienced opponent to a Pac-12 team.
Turnovers and penalties were the story of the game Saturday. On the opening return for the Utes, Ryan Lacy fumbled the ball, giving Washington an easy touchdown with only nine seconds played in the game. It was eerily similar to when Utah was on the receiving end of a botched snap against BYU for an early-game touchdown.
And the pain didn't stop there for the Utes, who managed two more fumbles and two interceptions by quarterbacks Jordan Wynn and Jon Hays. In addition to the several turnovers, Utah had penalties that killed any momentum earned during the game. In the second quarter alone, Utah committed two major penalties on a Washington drive, giving the Huskies 30 free yards.
Utah is the second team in the state to have a quarterback dilemma; however, it's a dilemma forced upon them because of an injury to Wynn in the second quarter. Prior to checking out of the game, Wynn was actually showing signs of improvement from previous weeks, going 12-of-17 for 149 yards and one touchdown. Wynn looked good throwing the ball and acted with confidence. But an injury to his non- throwing shoulder is not a good sign for the Utes, who look to rebound next week against division rival Arizona State.
As quarterback for the second half of the game, Jon Hays had some production, but it was overshadowed by the complete collapse of the team. Hays has the arm to throw the long ball, but is lacking in game experience to lead the Utes offense. On the night, Hays went 10-of-16 for 156 yards and one touchdown in the final drive of the game. Hays' interception and fumble will be what every fan recalls before completely trusting him to lead the team
If Wynn is forced to be on the sidelines for the next few games, the Utes are going to struggle, especially with an inexperienced quarterback.
As a top contender in the Mountain West Conference for years, the Utes defense has shined against opposing teams. However, coming into Saturday's game, one of the biggest questions was whether the Utah defense could hold up against to Pac-12 competition, especially against a strong Washington offense with Chris Polk running the ball.
The answer to that question is difficult to define as the Utes defense shut down in the second half of the game. Prior to the let down, the defense put a lot of pressure on Washington quarterback Keith Price. Additionally, Washington's run game was held to only 31 yards in the first half, completely stopping Polk and the Washington offense.
But it was the second half that hurt the Utes, allowing the Huskies run game to pick up momentum, with Polk leading the front. Ending the game with 185 rushing yards, the Utah defense could not contain the Huskies. If Utah wants to be known for its tough defense, it needs to continue through all four quarters of the game.
Utah has still not found an answer to their rushing game, which was a major issue coming into the season. Losing their senior running backs Matt Asiata and Eddie Wide has been a major loss to the Utes offense. John White IV was held to 35 yards on 14 carries, while the Utes as a whole was held to a total of 17 rushing yards on 23 carries.
White is getting several attempts, but is being shut down by opposing team defenses. Only when the opposing team's defense has let down has White had a productive game other than against Montana State.
The resemblance between Utah's game against BYU two weeks ago and Saturday's game against Washington is strikingly eerie, with Utah seeing the alternative side this week. Opening up the game, Utah fumbled the ball, giving Washington an early touchdown to start off -- Jake Heaps doesn't jump on the ball and Utah gets an early touchdown.
As mentioned in the previous impression, Utah was held to only 17 rushing yards -- BYU was held to 11 rushing yards two weeks ago. Despite the early turnover, Utah came out looking like the dominant team, however, keeping the game close, trailing by three -- despite an early turnover, BYU was the more physical team but trailed by four going into halftime.
Lastly, the Utah defense played really well in the first half, but struggled to stop an aggressive run game from Washington's Polk -- BYU defense was easily the most aggresive, but shut down in the second half, allowing Utah's White to run up the score.
Is Utah now the state's BYU, but two weeks later?