Midseason review: Utah


Record: 2-3, 0-3

When Utah blasted rival BYU 54-10 on Sept. 17, it looked like the Utes were set up nicely for their first Pac-12 run. Sure, they'd already lost at USC, but that 23-14 defeat seemed to suggest the Utes could hang in the conference. They'd extended the Trojans until the very last play -- a game-tying field goal attempt was blocked and returned for a touchdown as the clock struck zero -- in the conference's most storied venue.

Against BYU, the Utes were balanced -- 239 yards passing; 242 yards rushing -- with running back John White and quarterback Jordan Wynn turning in efficient performances. The defense was physical, holding the Cougars to 11 yards rushing. And, most importantly, Utah was opportunistic, winning the turnover battle 7-2.

Things can change quickly in college football. Following a bye -- after which coach Kyle Whittingham was a perfect 6-0 -- the Utes folded in the second half against Washington and then provided a repeat-performance versus Arizona State. They trailed both games 10-7 at the break but ended up losing 31-14 to the Huskies and 35-14 to the Sun Devils in front of stunned fans at Rice-Eccles Stadium.

Why? Turnovers. The Utes lost the turnover battle a combined 10-1, splitting five giveaways over both games.

It also didn't help that Wynn was knocked out of the Washington game at halftime with a shoulder injury. The initial prognosis for Wynn's return was 2-3 weeks, but it was announced Monday that he's done for the season.

The Utes will have to deal with -- fair or unfair -- questions about their fitness for the grind of Pac-12 play until they start to win some games. And that might not happen until Wynn comes back.

Offensive MVP: RB John White. The JC transfer averages 100 yards rushing per game. He averages 5.4 yards per carry and has scored six touchdowns. He's also caught five passes for 23 yards with a touchdown.

Defensive MVP: DE Trevor Reilly leads the Utes with seven tackles for a loss and three sacks. He's also forced four fumbles, recovered one and broken up a pass.