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Utah football: Utes off and running in blow out over Northern Colorado

Published September 1, 2012 10:07 pm

Utes' offense good, defense dominant in season opener.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Jordan Wynn is all right, and so too is Utah's new offense.

Wynn, playing in his first game since Oct. 1, threw for 200 yards, and John White ran for his ninth 100-yard game to lead the Utes to a 41-0 win in front of 45,273 fans at Rice-Eccles Stadium on Thursday.

Tight end Jake Murphy added two touchdowns and backup quarterback Travis Wilson rushed for two as they brought some of the variety Utah's offense lacked a year ago.

But the real star in Utah's blowout win of Northern Colorado? A group of guys said to be some of the best in the Pac-12.

Utah's defense notched its first shutout since the Utes beat Wyoming 50-0 in 2007, and never allowed the Bears to cross midfield.

Utah defensive end Trevor Reilly said it best when he noted that Northern Colorado wasn't in the same division as Utah and a win Thursday was a virtual given. A win over a team that went 0-11 last year didn't exactly motivate the Utes to celebrate much.

"I'll go out on a limb and say we have more talent, so we should have won that game," he said.

Nevertheless, if Thursday's game was at least a tease of what the future holds, Utah fans should be optimistic, with a little caution thrown in for good measure.

Friday's game against Utah State in Logan will be a better judge of how the Utes play under pressure, but at least they know they have an offense with more potential playmakers than they had last year.

Of course, having a healthy quarterback helps. Wynn was 19 for 27 for 200 yards and two touchdowns as he overcame a slow start low-lighted by an interception in the first quarter.

"I'd like us to start faster on offense, but a lot of that has to do with me," he said. "If I don't throw that pick, who knows what happens on that series. But we responded in the second and third quarter."

The Utes set a Rice-Eccles Stadium record with a 21-play, 91-yard drive that lasted 10 minutes and 43 seconds in the second half. There were times last year against even the worst opponents the Utes couldn't manage one first down, much less a drive like that one.

"It was just one of those drives where we grinded it out," Murphy said. "The whole offense did a good job of realizing situations and the receivers were making plays and John was running the ball well."

The only major offensive hiccup came at the end of the first half when Utah got the ball on the Bears' 15-yard line with 17 seconds to go. Utah failed to get any points on the board as Wynn threw two incompletions and Coleman Petersen missed a 27-yard field goal.

The place-kicking will have to be addressed this week, Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said, but otherwise he found little to criticize.

"It was a good start to the season," he said. "Some of it was good, some of it was bad, but once the offense got into gear we were able to score on four straight possessions."

It was actually three, but who is counting in a game like Thursday?

Defensive end Joe Kruger added to the total, scoring on a 24-yard interception return in the second half.

The Utes, who gave up just 20.23 points a game last year in the Pac-12, believe they can be even better in 2012.

Thursday's game was a good start, if not the most entertaining game to watch. —

Storylines

R In short • Jordan Wynn passes for 200 yards and Utah earns its first shutout since 2007.

Key moment • Travis Wilson scores on a 3-yard run to put Utah up 14-0 in the second quarter

Key stat • Northern Colorado never crosses midfield and has just 35 rushing yards.