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(Chris Detrick | The Salt Lake Tribune) Members of the Utah football team warm up before the game against Idaho State at Rice-Eccles stadium Thursday August 28, 2014.
Utah football: Utes rout Idaho State, 56-14 in opener
College football » Utah offense explosive against FCS Bengals when it counts
First Published Aug 28 2014 05:24 pm • Last Updated Aug 28 2014 11:33 pm

The Utes got what everyone expected — a win. A big, honking 56-14 win.

But Utah’s opener was not without a dash of tension. Fans hoping for a demolition from start to finish were disappointed as Idaho State drove into Utah territory aiming to tie up the 7-point game.

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But soon after Eric Rowe blocked the Bengals’ 30-yard field goal attempt in the second quarter, the wrecking ball was unleashed.

Kaelin Clay electrified Rice-Eccles fifth-biggest crowd with both punt and kickoff returns for a touchdown. In the first half alone, Travis Wilson passed for 265 yards and one touchdown, catapulting himself over an Idaho State defender for a 2-yard rushing score. And Devontae Booker rushed 10 times for 78 yards and two touchdowns and took a Wilson screen pass 61 yards.

Dave Christensen’s offense was as fast as advertised. Utah scored on drives of 16, 32 and 42 seconds.

Missing co-starting nickel back Justin Thomas for undisclosed reasons, Utah had some difficulty stopping Idaho State’s passing attack, especially early.

Senior defensive end Nate Orchard powered through the Bengal line for 2.5 sacks, but Justin Arias showed some senior savvy of his own, leading an early scoring drive against a penalty-prone Utah defense. While the unit stiffened, the Utes still took some hits, notably giving up more than 100 yards rushing to their FCS foe.

— Matthew Piper

***

Q4 10:05; Utah 49, Idaho State 14


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Things have slowed to a crawl here at Rice-Eccles Stadium. With the Utes retaining a 35-point lead, the urgency isn’t all there.

We’re seeing a mixed back from the back-ups. The defense has done a decent job since giving up a third-quarter drive. Dominique Hatfield in particular is playing well with cornerback reps, and that may be an indication he could make a switch permanently. Up front, Lowell Lotulelei and Wallace Gonzalez are making a decent impression.

The offense hasn’t done as well, lacking some of the explosiveness that built the lead. Kendal Thompson has had mixed success, rushing for only 7 yards but going 6-for-9 passing for 69 yards. Bubba Poole had a few runs and catches in the second half of note, which should be interesting setting up for the continuing Poole vs. Booker battle at running back.

Worth wondering: Where are the turnovers? Utah is still struggling to create turnovers even against Idaho State. That could be a concern going forward.

— Kyle Goon

***

Q3 7:30; Utah 49, Idaho State 14

Kendal Thompson got a rude awakening taking the field as quarterback for the first time at Rice-Eccles Stadium.

A botched snap followed by a sack — hardly a warm welcome.

But the Oklahoma transfer did make things happen and led a touchdown drive on his first drive, which was another score for Devontae Booker, by the way. Although the line seemed shaky in front of him and he’s still holding on the ball a little longer than advised, his scrambling and ability to improvise on breakdowns help set his skill set apart.

The offense needed help from Tom Hackett, who had a nice punt fake run.

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