SALT LAKE CITY — No one doubts senior Kaelin Clay anymore.
The junior college transfer took the field for the Utes for the first time Thursday night in a spectacular performance against visiting FCS opponent Idaho State. Clay essentially sealed his role as Utah’s go-to kick returner after taking back a punt for a 46-yard touchdown and a kickoff return for a 100-yard touchdown.
Welcome to the University of Utah, Clay! He now has a punt return and kickoff return for a touchdown in the Utes vs. Idaho State game.
Welcome to the University of Utah Clay! He now has a punt return and kick off return for a touchdown in the Utes vs Idaho St. Game tonight.— Sports At Home (@SportsAtHomeSLC) August 29, 2014
The strong showing on special teams all but guaranteed Utah’s future opponents will think twice before kicking it in Clay’s direction.
Also showing up Thursday was Utah’s offense, particularly under the leadership of last year’s starting quarterback Travis Wilson. The junior quarterback finished that night going 13 of 18 for 265 yards and one touchdown in one half, all but shoring up that he’s bona fide starter for Utah. But the most impressive play of the day for Wilson came in the first quarter when he rushed for a 3-yard touchdown, leaping over defenders for the score in a Superman-like flight.
Also garnering some attention was defensive end Nate Orchard, running back Devontae Booker and receiver Dres Anderson. Orchard ended the game with eight total tackles and 2.5 sacks but looked like a dominant force of the defensive side of the ball.
Utah DE Nate Orchard is a candidate to lead Pac-12 in sacks. Got 1 already.— Ted Miller (@TedMillerRK) August 28, 2014
Booker made a name for himself as a potential starter at running back, with 10 carries for 78 yards and two touchdowns. Returning back Bubba Poole was serviceable, but Booker was the most flashy. Anderson ended the night with four catches for 111 yards.
This isn't even a game anymore. Devontae Booker practically waltzes into the end zone. Utes up 42-7.— Lafe Peavler (@LafePeavler) August 29, 2014
Early on in the game, the defense had its struggles, allowing the Idaho State offense to score two touchdowns in a relatively easy fashion. The inability to tackle and read the offense left the defense scrambling for breath.