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Grading Utah's upset win over No. 8 UCLA

Grading Utah's upset win over No. 8 UCLA

(Tom Smart/Deseret News)



Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes

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PASADENA, California — The Utes bounced back from a heartbreaking loss last week to end No. 8 UCLA’s undefeated record, winning 30-28 on a late-game field goal by Andy Phillips.

Although the performance wasn’t perfect, Utah fought back from an ominous 28-27 UCLA lead to claim victory. The Utes improved to 4-1 on the season before its second bye week of the season.

The following is a grading of Utah’s performance of Saturday night’s game.

Offense: A- -----------

The offense started out struggling, with quarterback Travis Wilson rushed in his attempts to move the ball in back-to-back-to-back three and outs. Wilson was then benched in the first quarter, bringing in backup quarterback Kendal Thompson who managed to spark some life in the offense.

A quick strike to Dres Anderson for a 42-yard touchdown and a significant run game from Thompson and Devontae Booker gave the Utes enough life to make UCLA sweat a little. Booker finished the night rushing for 156 yards and one touchdown, with Thompson going 10-of-13 for 95 yards and one touchdown and 83 rushing yards.

The offense has to still address its lack of receiver play in back-to-back weeks, but the run game more than made up for the inability to open up the passing game.

Wilson ended the night going 2-of-5 for 5 yards before Thompson was inserted into the game.

Defense: A-

It’s hard to criticize a defensive unit that sacks a Heisman candidate quarterback 10 times in one game. Earlier in the week UCLA head coach Jim Mora said they had done a good job protecting quarterback Brett Hundley and was happy the team's sack numbers had gone down. However, Utah's defensive front seven made UCLA pay, particularly Hundley. Senior Nate Orchard sacked Hundley four times, finishing the night with 11 total tackles.

Also having big nights on defense were Tevin Carter, who intercepted a Hundley pass, which he returned for a 27-yard touchdown for the first score of the game. Hunter Dimick ended the game with 2.5 sacks and five total tackles.

The one area that nearly cost Utah the game was the secondary. Hundley was able to effectively navigate some passes over the defensive backs to keep UCLA in the game. Fortunately for Utah, the misdeeds in the secondary weren’t too costly.

Special Teams: A+

Andy Phillips won the game for Utah with a 29-yard field goal with 34 seconds left in the game. It’s a situation Utah doesn’t necessarily want to ever be in, but one its comfortable utilizing with Phillips as place kicker. Not to be outdone by the game-winning kick, Phillips also made a 45-yard field goal and a 48-yard field goal.

Oh and Phillips recovered his own onside kick. Is there anything he can't do?

Tom Hackett, too, made a huge impact in the game Saturday with his great punting abilities. Hackett averaged 49.2 yards Saturday on eight punts; his longest punt was 59 yards.

Overall Team: A

There are still many questions about the Utah team, particularly on offense, but beating the No. 8 team on the road after a deflating loss a week before trumps a lot. Utah has shown it can compete in the Pac-12, but must be consistent to really take the next step.

Josh Furlong

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