Takeaways: Utah at Stanford
The University of Utah’s dominance over the Stanford Cardinal continued on Friday night with a convincing 52-7 win in Palo Alto. The win puts Utah in near complete control over the Pac-12 South with three games to go.
Here are the takeaways from the trouncing:
Devin Lloyd and the D imposed their will
Stanford was missing their starting quarterback and their top two receivers, so dominance by the Utah defense was expected. However, as good as the Utes offense was, the defense at one point held the Cardinal to 38 yards rushing while the offense had 38 points.
It was a complete team effort on that side of the ball, but Utah’s All-American Devin Lloyd led the charge with nine tackles, five tackles for loss, and the pick-six right at the goal line.
The offense is understandably getting a lot of praise, but Lloyd and the Utes young defense delivered a performance that will put the Pac-12 on notice.
OL paved the way for 3 100-yard rushers
Tavion Thomas, Micah Bernard, and TJ Pledger deserve a ton of credit for their jaw-dropping performance and rightfully so. Take a quick look at the tape however, and you’ll see them not getting touched by the defense until 4-7 yards downfield on a regular basis.
The offensive took a lot of heat early on in the season, and it was justified. Injuries had taken their toll and established players were a shell of themselves. Their fortunes started to turn when Rising took over at quarterback with his more mobile style. However, it took a change at center to get the best lineup on the field. This is far from a slam on Nick Ford, but installing Paul Maile at center and allowing Ford to go back to his guard spot has been one of the best team developments in recent weeks.
About that term, “game manager”…
The percentage of plays was 68% run to 32% pass. Cam Rising threw only 22 passes, completing 13 for 140 yards. The Utes were so dominant on the ground that passing wasn’t a necessity. When he had to, Rising completed timely passes. The only negatives being some plays he wishes he had back in the red zone.
The term “game manager” has been thrown around by commentators a bit recently with Rising, but it’s not the negative connotation that some might think and those that talk about it make sure to mention as much. Wise beyond his years, Rising doesn’t play the game like he’s only started seven games. He plays smart football, as evidenced by his 12:2 touchdown to interception ratio. He has complete control of the offense and the utmost faith in him from the coaching staff. A perfect example is Utah choosing to take the ball to start the game, each of the last two coin tosses.
Against Stanford, Utah just needed Rising to manage the offense. Against Oregon in two weeks, he’ll likely be asked to make big plays, key decisions, and calculated risks to win the game. The goal is the Pac-12 Championship Game and then the Rose Bowl. Rising is proving that there’s no better quarterback in the Pac-12 that can lead a team to those goals.
The Utes travel to Tucson to face an Arizona Wildcats squad that just got their first win in two years, as they defeated a Covid depleted Cal team on Saturday. Kickoff is at Noon on the Pac-12 Network. This should be a perfect opportunity to get ahead early, get key guys rest, and give backups some valuable reps.