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Game day grades: Utah at Arizona

Game day grades: Utah at Arizona

By Josh Furlong | Posted - Nov. 5, 2011 at 9:41 p.m.



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TUCSON, AZ -- With a 34-21 win over the Arizona Wildcats on the road, the University of Utah made a good effort, with Jon Hays throwing for 199 yards and an offense that looked much improved after early-season struggles.

Quarterback: A-

Saturday's game against the Wildcats was a good game for Jon Hays, who looked poised and confident as Utah's quarterback. Hays went 12-of-21 for 199 yards and two touchdowns, using a balanced attack on offense. Whereas Hays relied on White for offensive production against Oregon State, Hays was not afraid to throw the ball against the Wildcats, connecting with his receivers in the short and long game.

In probably his greatest pass, Hays connected with DeVonte Christopher for a 65-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter. Utes offensive coordinator Norm Chow didn't shy away from the passing game, but had confidence in Hays to make the plays, and for once it worked without an interception being thrown.

Running Backs/Full Backs: A

Once again, Utah relied on John White IV to work the run game. White continues to prove his worth as a strong running back as he fights for every yard, extending the play and muscling through the defensive line. White ended the game with 109 yards on 27 carries, with two touchdowns.

White also eclipsed the 1000 rushing yards mark for the season against Arizona. With three regular season games left for the Utes, expect White to continually fight for yards as he runs up the numbers.

One of the most impressive performances from White was actually not when he touched the ball, it was a great block to save Jon Hays from getting sacked. White is the all-around player, willing to do what it takes to get his team the win.

Wide Receiver/Tight End: A

The receivers did a good job of giving Hays a man to throw to. Unfortunately, Hays overthrew some of the passes, which could have been great gains for the Utes. DeVonte Christopher and Reggie Dunn were major play makers for the Utes, pulling down the ball to move the chains.

Christopher had a 65-yard touchdown after blowing past Arizona's secondary. Dunn also scored a touchdown, beating Arizona defenders for some big gains.

Offensive Line: A-

In a much improved effort, Utah's offensive line did a good job at providing protection for Hays, who was able to make the best play without a lot of pressure. Additionally, lineman gave White the open gaps he needed to break away for some easy yards.

Overall Offense: A-

Consistency was something the Utes have lacked in previous games. Against Oregon State, Utah moved the ball well in the first half, but only managed three points in the second. However, against Arizona, Utah's offense looked pretty good, controlling the clock, moving the ball down field and picking up first downs.

If Utah expects to win its remaining games against UCLA, Washington State and Colorado, the offense must continue to play like it did against Arizona.

Defensive Line: A-

Utah's defensive line works hard each game to put pressure on its opponents, and Saturday's game was no different. Although Arizona quarterback Nick Foles had a lot of time to make plays, the defensive line put a lot of pressure on the Wildcats offense. It was Utah's best defensive performance, but it was pretty good.

Linebackers: A-

Matt Martinez came up big for the Utes, pulling down an interception in the second quarter, which set up the Utes for another touchdown. Utah's linebackers have been key to a strong defense this year. The Linebacking core, added to the defensive line, make it very difficult to get anything on the field.

Defensive Backs: B-

Utah's secondary struggled against the Wildcats, giving Foles plenty of room to work with in the passing game. Arizona had 326 yards in the air, with many passes dropped by Wildcats receivers. If Utah has a weak spot on its defense, it is in the secondary. However, the secondary is young and has time to grow.

Conroy Black came up big for the Utes in a clutch moment, intercepting a pass from Foles in the end zone, stopping Arizona's attempt at a touchdown.

Overall Defense: B+

The defense played well Saturday against the Wildcats; however, it wasn't their best night. Early in the game, the defense looked a step behind and struggled to contain the passing game. The rush defense, however, proved tough and forced the Wildcats to throw the ball. Utah held Arizona to 131 yards in the rush game.

Special Teams: A-

Special teams had a big boost from Greg Bird, who blocked two Arizona punts, giving the Utes early momentum and great field position. Additionally, the kicking team did a good job of forcing the Wildcats to work out of their end zone.

The one negative aspect of the night was Coleman Petersen missing two field goals; however, Petersen has done a good job on the season despite an unpredictable early start to the season.

Overall Team: B+

Overall the Utes played really well, especially given their weak offensive performances in previous weeks. Utah still has a long way to go before they are bowl eligible, but progress is being made.

*Email: jfurlong@ksl.com*Twitter: @JFurKSL

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Josh Furlong

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