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Utah football: Utes enjoy big win over Weber State

Published September 8, 2013 2:16 am

Utah football • Quarterback Wilson has three TDs in first half.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

And with that, Utah's so-called preseason is over.

The Utes (2-0), who routed Weber State 70-7 Saturday at Rice-Eccles Stadium, ended the day enjoying one of their most lopsided wins in recent history, but also knowing the real season is about to begin for them.

Sure, avenging last year's loss to Utah State was big and getting some valuable experience for the younger players against the Wildcats (1-1) was huge, but now it's game on for the Utes.

Kicking off Utah's most difficult schedule to date is next week's Pac-12 opener against Oregon State followed by a road trip to BYU.

After that contest it's all about the Pac-12 for the Utes, who will face three ranked teams in their final eight-game stretch.

What the Utes wanted heading into that gantlet was a shot of confidence and a chance to work on their deficiencies.

The Wildcats played the perfect supporting role for the Utes, who dominated on both sides of the ball.

"We didn't think of it as a tuneup," Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said. "But what we wanted to do is get better at the things that were a problem last week, and I think we accomplished that for the most part."

Standing out the most were all the big plays quarterback Travis Wilson and Co. created.

Wilson finished the day 14 for 19 for 264 yards and three touchdowns before he was replaced by backup Adam Schulz in the second half.

Wilson said earlier in the week his confidence was at an all-time high after leading the Utes past Utah State in the season opener.

It showed on Saturday as the sophomore commanded the offense well and connected with his receivers on five first-half plays that went for 20 yards or more.

He had an 80-yard touchdown throw to Sean Fitzgerald that put the Utes up 14-0 and a 57-yard touchdown pass to Dres Anderson that made it 28-0 in the second quarter.

He also had a 31-yard throw to Anthony Denham and two passes of 20 yards to tight end Jake Murphy.

The 6-foot-6, 240-pound quarterback also showed off some nifty footwork, rushing for first-half touchdowns of 38 and 51 yards.

"Travis was amazing out there," Anderson said. "I felt like he was going for the Heisman Trophy, running and passing and all of that. He was looking great."

The only thing that stopped Wilson from having a record day was Utah's coaches, as he didn't make an appearance in the second half.

Getting pulled early denied Wilson a chance to break his career high of 311 passing yards he had against Arizona a year ago, but it was clear from the moments he played that Wilson didn't need any more time on the field — the sophomore is playing as well as the coaches could want.

"I felt like we moved the ball really well out there," Wilson said. "I got my legs in there running a little bit so it was definitely good."

If there was anything to criticize Saturday, it was the few mistakes Utah's offense had, such as three dropped passes and a near-fumble by running back Kelvin York.

Those miscues are reminders the Utes still have areas in which to improve, but if one considers the Utes a work in progress, the work is turning out quite nicely.

"We're still finding out about ourselves," Whittingham said. "You don't really know who you are as a team until the fourth or fifth week, when you understand what you are good at and not good at, but it's still a good start."

lwodraska@sltrib.com

Twitter: @lyawodraska —

Storylines

R IN SHORT • The Utes total 424 yards of offense in the first half and hold Weber State to 90 as Utah earns its fourth win over the Wildcats.

KEY MOMENT • On Utah's second possession, quarterback Travis Wilson rambles 38 yards for a touchdown to ignite a dominating win.

KEY STAT • Utah receiver Dres Anderson has four catches for 103 yards at halftime, surpassing the Wildcats' yardage as a team.