Punchless Utah football manhandled by Oregon State

No. 19 Oregon State 21, No. 10 Utah 7 • Utes are dealt their first loss of the season as they fail to eclipse 200 yards of offense, and don’t get on the scoreboard until deep in the fourth quarter.

(Amanda Loman | AP) Utah quarterback Nate Johnson (13) drops back to pass against Oregon State during the first half Friday in Corvallis, Ore.

Corvallis Ore. • Multiple Utah coaches and players said in the lead-up to the game at Reser Stadium that Utah needed to become at least a little bit dangerous in the passing game.

Not being able to pull it off finally spelled their demise.

The No. 10-ranked Utes were handed their first defeat of the season in a humiliating and embarrassing 21-7 loss at the hands of the 19th-ranked Beavers.

Utah had only a handful moments all game long in which they managed any kind of momentum, or strung together multiple positive plays.

Nate Johnson was benched in the third quarter after going 3 of 12 passing for 35 yards before then.

Bryson Barnes’ subsequent drive got the Utes down to OSU’s 5-yard line (thanks in part to a dubious penalty vs. OSU), before he was sacked, a botched snap resulted in another sack, and then he threw a horrific interception.

Johnson subsequently returned to the game in the fourth quarter after Barnes was decked on a play that yielded both a roughing the passer penalty and a targeting call and ejection.

Other than a three-play, 55-yard “drive” deep in the fourth quarter that basically entailed tight end Thomas Yassmin dragging defenders along for the ride on what would prove the Utes’ only score, though, they never mustered much.

Utah finished with only 198 yards of offense for the game, and only eclipsed the century mark in passing with a handful of minutes remaining.

Meanwhile, a defense that had been stellar vs. Florida, Baylor, Weber State, and UCLA could not keep up that pace vs. the Beavers.

They had their moments, racking up three sacks (including two more by FBS leader Jonah Elliss) and 13 tackles for loss, and only surrendered 358 total yards, but didn’t ever get the game-turning moments that defined previous efforts.

Utah is now 4-1 on the season, heading into its bye week.

The Utes return to action Oct. 14 vs. Cal at Rice-Eccles Stadium.

(Amanda Loman | AP) Oregon State wide receiver Silas Bolden (7) dodges Utah cornerback JaTravis Broughton (4) during the first half of an NCAA college football game Friday, Sept. 29, 2023, in Corvallis, Ore.

Oregon State leads Utah 14-0 after three quarters

Utah went with a different quarterback.

The Utes still did not wind up with any points.

After pulling the ineffectual Nate Johnson and going back to Bryson Barnes, the Utes initially had some success moving the ball down the field, even getting into scoring territory thanks to a dubious defensive pass interference call that put the ball at the 5.

Then Barnes was sacked.

Then Jaren Kump’s snap was low, and as Barnes scurried to retrieve it, he was sacked.

Then Barnes threw an ill-advised pass that was easily picked off.

Utah ended the third quarter with 132 yards of offense.

Oregon State goes up 14-0; Utah goes to Bryson Barnes

Utah’s defense has been keeping the team in the game.

But when they inevitably have a bad moment, it quickly turns into disaster.

DJ Uiagalelei first completed a 25-yard pass to Jesiah Irish, then on the next play found Silas Bolden at the 20, who got by a missed tackle from JaTravis Broughton, then made Sione Vaki whiff badly with a bad angle on the cutback.

From there, Bolden went untouched into the end zone for a 14-0 lead.

Utah responded by pulling Nate Johnson from the game and going back to Bryson Barnes, who has been benched since the fourth quarter of the Baylor game (some garbage-time snaps vs. Weber State notwithstanding).

At the time of the switch, Utah had just 108 yards of offense. Johnson was 3 of 12 passing for 35 yards.

Oregon State leads Utah 7-0 at halftime

Kyle Whittingham has consistently expressed the need for Utah to display a more dangerous passing attack.

The Utes could not have been further from it in Friday’s first half at Reser Stadium.

Nate Johnson completed only 3 of 11 passes for 35 yards, and Utah never had a competent-looking drive beyond their first of the game, which saw them make it to the OSU 35-yard line before turning it over on downs.

They never really threatened after that.

As per usual, the defense is keeping the team in the game.

Oregon State wide receiver Anthony Gould (2) is brought down by Utah cornerback Zemaiah Vaughn, back, during the first half of an NCAA college football game Friday, Sept. 29, 2023, in Corvallis, Ore. (AP Photo/Amanda Loman)

Following a mistake-riddled opening series, which resulted in the only score of the game, they mostly settled down. They’ve yielded a few big plays here and there, but the run defense has grown more stout, and the pass rush is getting home.

Utah finished the first half with three sacks and nine tackles for loss.

Brutal sequence sees Utah lose two more starters, blow a potential touchdown

It doesn’t get much worse than what the Utah football team experienced in the second quarter Friday night.

Defensive end Logan Fano blew through the Oregon State line for a sack — but grabbed at his knee while on the ground. After limping to the medical tent to get checked out, he wound up leaving the field on crutches.

Right around that time, his brother, Spencer, took his place in the tent.

The starting left tackle despite being a true freshman, the younger Fano has been excellent up to this point.

As if the injury news wasn’t bad enough, they followed up by messing up what perhaps might have been their best offensive play.

They drew up a design that would have yielded a huge completion to tight end Landen King … only for it to be erased by a false start on offensive lineman Michael Mokofisi.

Oregon State leads Utah 7-0 after first quarter

The Beavers are stacking the box and daring Nate Johnson to beat them with his arm.

So far, he can’t.

He threw for 35 yards in the opening 15 minutes, completing only 3 of 7 attempts. Meanwhile, Utah’s rushing attack managed just 19 yards on seven carries.

After the Utes’ defense looked out of sorts early, they rebounded on the Beavers’ second drive, getting stingy and shutting things down with sack No. 6.5 on the season for Jonah Elliss.

Oregon State takes the lead

Utah got the ball first at Reser Stadium, and moved it down the field a bit, but stalled at the Oregon State 35.

The Beavers pretty much never stalled on their ensuing drive.

OSU went 65 yards in 11 plays, spanning 5:24, culminating their drive with a four-yard touchdown run by Damian Martinez.

Utah’s well-regarded defense had several big miscues — with a failure to be properly aligned on the first play enabling DJ Uiagalelei to go up the middle for 17 yards on a keeper. Later, on third-and-long, the Utes appeared to have a stop, but cornerback JaTravis Broughton missed a tackle in the flat, leading to a conversion.

Nate Johnson starting at QB for Utah vs. Oregon State

Any thought that Cam Rising might make his return from an ACL injury before the Utah football team has its bye week went out the window Friday night.

Rising was in street clothes during pregame warmups at Reser Stadium, meaning redshirt freshman Nate Johnson will get the start again.

The Utes also appear to be without running back Ja’Quinden Jackson and defensive end Connor O’Toole. Kicker Cole Becker appears to be back, though. And offensive lineman Johnny Maea looked like he might make his debut.