Even with win, Utes' offense still lags
The Utah Utes' losing streak might be over, but their offensive woes? Unfortunately for the Utes, they are alive and well.
Utah (3-3, 0-3), which scored just one offensive touchdown in its 26-14 win over Pitt on Saturday, has a "multitude of issues" it must work on as it prepares to jump back into conference play with a game against Cal in San Francisco.
Cal (3-3, 0-3) is playing its home games at AT&T Park while its stadium is being renovated.
The Bears have lost their past three games, including a 30-9 defeat by USC on Saturday.
But even with Cal struggling, the Utes know they can't continue to rely on the defense for wins.
"There are a multitude of things," Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said of Utah's offensive deficiencies. "We're not throwing it efficiently enough, not nearly enough and we need more consistency in the run game."
The run game was the most positive aspect of Utah's offensive effort Saturday, with John White rushing 14 times for 171 yards.
Quarterback Jon Hays was 14-for-23 for 127 yards, but was sacked seven times. The best play of the day for Hays was a tipped ball that landed in receiver Luke Matthews' hands, resulting in a 33-yard touchdown run.
Despite several penalties against Pitt that helped keep Utah drives alive, the Utes struggled to move the ball consistently and were just 7-for-18 on third down conversions.
"We need more chunk yardage," Whittingham said. "We're not getting enough big plays up the field with 15-yard runs, 20-yard passes with 5-yard runs after the catch, those things."
Utah's offensive struggles have been a consistent problem this year, save for the 54-10 win at BYU that was fueled by BYU's seven turnovers.
Utah entered Saturday's game ranked last in the Pac-12 in total offense, averaging 346.8 yards, and managed only 251 total against a Pitt defense that was giving up 390.5 yards a game.
Certainly some of the offensive issues are related to the quarterback change, but Whittingham said the offensive struggles weren't about one position.
"Not having Jordan [Wynn] hurts he was our guy but I'm proud of Jon Hays," he said. "He is a fighter, and he is doing some good things. I'm not pointing fingers at one player in particular or scheme. Overall we have to get better. That is on me, it comes back to me."
Hays admitted the offense never found its rhythm Saturday but wasn't sure why.
"We have to check the tape and come back Monday and work those things out," he said.
Complicating Utah's offensive struggles are injuries. Utah was without top receiver DeVonte Christopher Saturday due to an ankle sprain. Then, the Utes lost tight end Dallin Rogers with a season-ending knee injury in the first quarter.
Rogers was the Utes' second-leading receiver, with 21 catches for 163 yards and two touchdowns this year.
Whittingham said he is never one to use injuries as an excuse and the Utes must resolve their problems.
"We've got some work to do," he said.
Sept. 3 • Fresno State, W, 36-21
Sept. 10 • Colorado, W, 36-33 OT
Sept. 17 • Presbyterian, W, 63-12
Sept. 24 • Washington, L, 31-23
Oct. 6 • Oregon, L, 43-15
Oct. 13 • USC, L, 30-9
Utah at Cal
P Saturday, 5 p.m.
TV • KJZZ