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November 11, 2012

Lack of passing game dooms Utes

Utah's offense took a step in the wrong direction on Saturday as they fell to Washington 34-15 in Seattle.

After solid efforts in the two previous weeks against Cal and Washington State, Utah only managed 188 yards of total offense and 15 points in one of the program's most anemic offensive displays in the Whittinham era.

Freshman quarterback Travis Wilson played the worst game of his young college career, completing eight of 23 passes for 55 yards and an interception. The young quarterback struggled to gain any momentum against a Husky defense that left him flummoxed the entire game.

"They were definitely playing good coverage and covering our guys well. Their schemes were working well for them but I should have done a better job at throwing the football," Wilson said. "Washington is definitely a good team. They came out very physical on defense, but for me I just need to make more plays than I did."

Wilson wasn't helped by his receiving corps, as Dres Anderson, Kenneth Scott, and Luke Matthews all dropped catchable passes during critical junctures of the game.

"We had a lot of drops, it was the throw game. When we look at where our deficiencies were, it was in the throw game. I thought we ran the ball okay, we had close to 150 yards rushing, which is about average. But our throw game was abysmal. We dropped too many balls, just never got in sync throwing the football. We've got to be more balanced offensively," said head coach Kyle Whittingham.

The Ute defense didn't fare much better than the offense, giving up 34 points to a Husky offense that had been anemic all season. . Washington quarterback Keith Price, who has struggled all season had a breakout game against the Utes, throwing for 277 yards and two touchdowns, while rushing for another. Utah also struggled to make big plays when they needed, especially in the turnover department.

"Defensively, we've got to get more takeaways. This day and age in football, you've got to create more than one takeaway in a football game, and we didn't do that," Whittingham said.

In addition to their inability to create turnovers, the Utes didn't take care of the ball themselves, giving the ball away twice. Both turnovers proved especially costly as they each led to Husky touchdowns. "The biggest turning point in the game, we are down 22-15, we get a stop, and we mishandle the punt and special teams turns it over, and we never recover from that," Whittingham said.

On one of few positive notes in the game, Ute running back John White had an excellent game, rushing for 144 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries. Utah had previously been undefeated when White has rushed for 100 yards, but the streak came to an unceremonious end on Saturday.

With this loss, Utah faces a must-win situation against Arizona next week in order to stay in the hunt for bowl eligibility.

"Our backs are against the wall," said junior linebacker Trevor Reilly. "We're going to go out swinging, but either way we are going to try and close to be bowl eligible."


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