Boulder, Colo. • Jason Shelley’s second start as Utah’s quarterback didn’t go well in the beginning, but two completions to a childhood friend changed everything Saturday.
Shelley's 61-yard pass to Jaylen Dixon led to Utah's first touchdown in the second quarter and their 47-yard touchdown connection in the third quarter helped the Utes take command of Colorado in a 30-7 victory at Folsom Field.
Shelley was 2 of 9 for 26 yards as of early in the second quarter, while adjusting to the cold, snowy conditions. He finished 11 of 23 for 221 yards and two touchdowns, with no interceptions. “I mean, it was cold,” said Shelley, who mostly grew up in a Dallas-Fort Worth suburb. “I've never really played in the snow. I was more worried about the snow being in guys' eyes than about being cold.”
The weather didn't keep Dixon from making his first big reception, followed by Samson Nacua's nice grab in the back of the end zone. After halftime, the snow stopped and the Utes kept coming. Their first possession of the third quarter resulted in a Matt Gay field goal, then Shelley found Dixon over the middle for the 47-yard score.
Dixon is a redshirt freshman like Shelley, his former Lone Star High School teammate. Their friendship goes back to fourth grade at Robertson Elementary School in Little Elm, Texas, a playground race that Dixon won. That's of no shame for Shelley. “Jaylen Dixon's got tremendous speed,” Ute coach Kyle Whittingham said. “He's one of the fastest kids on the team, if not the fastest kid.”
Dixon already was making occasional, big catches of passes from injured quarterback Tyler Huntley. His four receptions for 125 yards vs. Colorado gave him 15 catches for 411 yards, a 27.4 average. He keeps surfacing as a target for Shelley, whose 36-yard completion to Dixon was vital to last weekend's winning drive against Oregon.
While he was unproven in college until this month, Shelley already was known for his deep passing ability. He overthrew Britain Covey in the second quarter, but delivered two long strikes to Dixon. “It’s always been that way; he’s always had that strong arm and … he just keeps showing it,” Dixon said.