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SALT LAKE CITY — Coming off back-to-back wins after an 0-4 start in conference play, the University of Utah met a difficult challenge traveling to Seattle to take on the Washington Huskies. And while Washington played well, it was the lack of offense from Utah that led to a 34-15 loss.
The 100-yard mark stat has been unraveled. John White was the offense for Utah, but the rest of the team was not able to help him. White scored the team's two touchdown and put up big numbers. However, it was not enough for the Utes. In the first half alone White rushed for 91 yards. He finished the game with 142 yards, but it was not enough to beat the Huskies.
Travis Wilson looked like a freshman in Saturday's loss. In the past few weeks, Wilson seemed to be handling the starting the job. He showed confidence, poise and the ability to read the defense (albeit bad defenses from Cal and Washington State). However, on Saturday, Wilson was slow on reads, forced the ball and telegraphed the passes, which were few. It didn't help that Wilson's receivers dropped nearly every pass he threw.
In conjunction with Wilson's poor showing, the offense was extremely conservative and bland. Had it not been for White's strong performance, Utah would have struggled to likely get to 100 yards. York is not available for the team and the receivers were essentially void. On the few passes that were thrown to the receivers, nearly every pass was dropped. And it wasn't like Wilson was overthrowing or short-arming the pass; the passes were there. You can't win a game when the offense continues to sputter.
Because Washington avoided kicking the ball to Reggie Dunn, Utah had great field position all game, but the Utes couldn't capitalize on it. Nothing seemed to work for Utah.
It's clear now that the preseason defense was overrated. Going into the regular season, the defense appeared to be tough, led by Star Lotulelei. However, as the season has progressed, the defense has been nothing special. The defense has some great names, but they can't get it done against winning teams, which is when it really matters.
The linebacking core and secondary could not contain Washington, allowing Price to complete passes anywhere on the field. Additionally, the defensive line struggled to put pressure on Price, who was able to do what he wanted all game.
Bowl eligibility is in question with a loss to Washington. It has been in question for most of the season, but after beating Cal and Washington State, it appeared Utah had an edge on bowl eligibility. Coming into Saturday's game, I doubted Utah would get a victory, but thought they would easily get a win over Arizona and Colorado. However, I'm questioning that prediction now. If Utah continues to play the way they did against Washington, they'll be lucky to even beat Colorado.
While it's always the goal to make it to a bowl at the end of the season, I don't think it will do Utah any good. Even if they become bowl eligible, it sets up a false sense of security. Utah has several areas they need to address in the offseason, and a bowl will only hamper that success. Last season was not the best of seasons, but all the pains and struggles were forgotten after Utah was in contention for the South Division and won their bowl game. The Pac-12 is improving, while Utah is digressing.