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SALT LAKE CITY — For a team known for its defensive identity, giving up 487 yards of total offense doesn't come close to what you would expect.
And for a team struggling to find an offensive identity over the last two seasons, picking up 450 yards — 302 through the air — was as unexpected as seeing Ben Affleck cast as the new Batman.
Utah's inexperienced secondary, along with a lackluster pass rush, allowed Aggie quarterback Chuckie Keeton to seemingly move the ball at will.
The Heisman watch list quarterback completed 31 of 40 passes for 314 yards and two touchdowns while rushing 15 times for 89 yards and a score. Like his usual self, Keeton eluded defenders — losing his shoe on one occasion — yet still managed to scramble down the right side for a 16 yard gain and a first down.
But what impressed the 45,237 in attendance at Rice-Eccles most was seeing Utah's offense fight back and take control of a game that it had all too often let slip through their fingers in years past.
The Utes drove 82 yards in their first possession, capping it off with a three yard pass from Travis Wilson to Dres Anderson. Wilson added another touchdown toss later in the first quarter, a 30 yard strike to tight end Jake Murphy.
But after a slow second quarter and seeing one of its top receiving candidates in Kenneth Scott limping off to the sideline after a gruesome leg injury (Whitt confirmed in postgame comments that Scott is done for the season), fans began to think that the offense had reverted back to its old ways, as the Utes watched an 11 point lead turn into a nine point deficit.
But Wilson came through again, throwing a 56 yard strike to Dres Anderson on third and 14 that eventually led to an Andy Phillips field goal.
And after an onsides kick, by a kicker playing in his first ever football game, the Utes struck again on a Karl Williams two yard touchdown run.
Andy Phillips, a five time member of the US Ski Team, also connected on all three of his field goal attempts, a performance worthy enough to earn him the game ball from Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham.
Yes, after two seasons of watching the Utah defense carry the offense, it was good to see the offense doing its part in a game where the defense just wasn't getting it done.