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SALT LAKE CITY -- The University of Utah became bowl eligible Saturday against the UCLA Bruins after a slow starting season. The Utes played a consistent game Saturday, beating the Bruins 31-6 for their third consecutive Pac-12 win.
Jon Hays led the Utes offense for the third consecutive week, putting together consistent drives and point on the board. Although Hays is not completely relied upon to put some points on the board, he is making all the right moves. Hays is looking more comfortable under center, waiting to make the play before rushing off a throw. Additionally, his passes, lately, have been mostly on target, which is strikingly different from when he first took over the team. Hays ended the game going five-of-13 for 67 yards and one touchdown.
Running Backs/Full Backs: A
John White the IV is Utah's offense, especially with wide receiver DeVonte Christopher seeing a diminished role because of an ankle injury. White has become the key factor for the Utes, putting up more than 100 yards in every Utah win. Against the Bruins, White had a great night, with three touchdowns -- two rushing and another on a pass from Jon Hays -- and 180 total yards.
In the final minutes of the game, Bingham High's Harvey Langi made some big plays to run up the clock, adding 30 yards to Utah's offense. Langi has not seen much playing time this season, but is expected to be an additional running back threat in future years.
Wide Receiver/Tight End: B+
Utah's receiver core has not done much in their recent wins, and Saturday's win against the Bruins was no exception. One of the best plays to a receiver Saturday was a 33-yard pass to Dres Anderson, which helped the Utes move the offense. Although not thrown often, receivers struggled a bit to pull down passes. However, with less time being devoted to the passing game, it is not surprising the receivers have had little impact.
Offensive Line: A
The offensive line gave Jon Hays all the protection he needed Saturday. On several plays, Hays held the ball for what seemed like forever, which allowed him the time to make good plays. Additionally, the offensive line did a good job of providing John White the holes he needed to pick up big yards.
Overall Offense: A-
The offense has been clicking recently, which has had a direct correlation to their recent winning streak. As the Utah offense continues to improve and stay on the field, the defense has been provided with more resting time, which has allowed the Utes to ultimately stop their opponents on offense.
Defensive Line: A-
The defensive line continues to work hard to stop the run game, forcing opponents to adjust to Utah's defensive schemes. Led in tackles by Star Lotulelei, Utah's defense put pressure on UCLA quarterback Kevin Prince.
Utah linebackers made it extremely difficult for Prince to make the pass, with good coverage on receivers, as well as the pressure on Prince. There were moments where tackling became an issue, but it was not something that ultimately hurt the team.
Defensive Backs: A
Utah's defensive backs were exceptional Saturday night, with Conroy Black leading the team with two interceptions, with one returned for a touchdown. Additionally, Brian Blechen as safety was everywhere on the field. His hard hits and exceptional coverage make him one of the best defensive backs on the team.
Overall Defense: A-
The defense continued to play tough Saturday, holding UCLA to two field goals. With the offense making progression and giving the defense more time on the sideline, the team has become a balanced threat against their latest opponents.
Special Teams: B
There were not a lot of mistakes on special teams Saturday, except for a fumbled return by Griff McNabb.
Overall Team: A-
Overall, the University of Utah has become a fairly consistent and balanced team. The defense is certainly the strong aspect of the team, but the offense is making the right steps to resurrecting their season. With two games left on the season, the Utes are finally clicking. It is reasonable the Utes finish with five consecutive wins before playing in a bowl game.