Utah defensive end Trevor Reilly said a few days ago it was important for the Utes to beat Weber State convincingly to have a little swagger going into their Pac-12 game against Oregon State.
Suffice it to say, the Utes earned the confidence they wanted with Saturday’s 70-7 whipping of the Wildcats.
The Utes dominated on both sides of the ball and, most importantly, seemed to improve in the areas they needed to do so.
“We still have some little things to clean up, but as a whole it was very positive,” said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham.
Whittingham cautioned it was too early to know exactly what kind of team the Utes are, saying it takes at least four or five games to do so, but the Beavers should provide a good indication.
Oregon State has plenty of motivation for the game, having been embarrassed in its opener by losing to Eastern Washington 49-46.
The Beavers came back and beat Hawaii 33-14 Saturday, but beating Utah would be a much more legitimate win.
As for the Utes, they may not have revealed their identity, but offensively they certainly don’t look like the ugly duckling they were last year.
Last season Utah turned the ball over four times and converted 3 of 16 third downs in a 21-7 loss to the Beavers.
This year, the Utes have taken better care of the football and are doing a much better job of moving the ball.
Key to Utah’s success has been big plays from Travis Wilson, who threw for 264 yards against the Wildcats and had five plays of 20 yards or more.
“That was missing last year, and we’ve had some explosiveness for two weeks in a row now,” Whittingham said. “You have to get some chunk yardage as we call it.”
Wilson also had three carries, including touchdown runs of 38 and 51 yards.
His ability to run the ball well is an element the Utes haven’t had in a quarterback in several seasons, and Whittingham said Utah needs to use him more.
“There is a place to get him four or six more carries a game than what he is getting,” Whittingham said. “That is something we are going to have to look at.”
The Utes lost one of their biggest threats when receiver Kenneth Scott suffered a season-ending leg injury in the season opener. However, at least on Saturday the Utes looked like they’ve found some solid options with Sean Fitzgerald and Anthony Denham making some nice catches along with Dres Anderson and tight end Jake Murphy.
“We had some great opportunities and we made them count,” Wilson said. “This definitely gives us motivation for next week. It’s a lot tougher opponent next week and we need to make sure and get prepared with a great week of practice.”
After such a big win the Utes may have to guard against being too confident, but Whittingham doesn’t think that will happen, believing the Utes know what is in store for them after last year.
“The degree of difficulty begins to get higher this week,” he said. “We’ll come back Monday needing a great week of preparation; that is our objective right now.”
Oregon State at Utah
P Saturday, 8 p.m.
TV • Fox Sports 1