Who was good, who was bad, and who was ugly against UNLV?
Utah vs UNLV Position Grades
Terrance Cain was effective, but not spectacular. He was not asked to do a lot; just manage the game and don't make mistakes, which is exactly what he did. It is apparent, though, that he is not Jordan Wynn.
Running Back B
The Utes didn't run a ton of plays or have the ball a lot so the numbers aren't overly impressive. Eddie Wide had 15 carries for 77 yards and two touchdowns, but his only long run of the day ended in a fumble. Matt Asiata only had 8 carries for 39 yards. It was nice to see Tauni Vakapuna get his first carries.
Wide Receiver C
Jereme Brooks is beginning to look like Chris Carter….He just scores touchdowns. 3 TDs in two games for Brooks as he helped get Cain comfortable after a few bad throws to open things up. Only one catch apiece again for Shaky and Luke Matthews, although Shaky had a great 55 yard touchdown. DeVonte Christopher disappeared after his big week last week with only one catch himself. In the receivers' defense, the Utes only threw the ball 20 times.
Tight End C+
Clifford and Moeia with one catch apiece. They need the ball more. It's hard to make an impact when, even in five receiver sets, you never get the ball.
Offensive Line A-
No sacks allowed in two games is very impressive. That streak could continue a few more weeks. Caleb Schlauderaff is a mean dude who just manhandles everyone. He could end as an All American. The injury to Zane Taylor doesn't look too bad, but he is likely to miss this week, and knee injuries often linger throughout the year.
Defensive Line C-
Where was the pressure? Omar Clayton stood in the backfield with all day to throw, and when the play broke down and he had to scramble, the running lanes were wide open. Siliga and Kruger were again very effective in run support, shutting down the middle time and time again. Derrick Shelby had an increased workload this week, but was almost non-existent. Christian Cox was having trouble fighting off blocks all day. The only sacks of the day came from cornerback Lamar Chapman on the blitz.
Chaz Walker continues to make me eat my words as he piles up more and more tackles, 16 this week. Matt Martinez was much more active this week than against Pitt, possibly knowing that he's fighting for his starting spot once J.J. Williams comes back. Chad Manis had another solid day. He's at his best shedding blockers and keeping himself in the right spot. This unit helped hold UNLV to 2.4 yards per carry for the day.
Michael Johnson toyed with Lamar Chapman, Conroy Black, and Kamaron Yancy at times hauling in 7 catches for 94 yards. Brandon Burton was stellar again holding Philip Payne to 4 catches for 30 yards. The third and long conversions that UNLV had are a cause for concern, but part of the blame has to lay with the defensive line for not getting any pressure.
Brian Blechen had two huge hits that had the crowd going crazy and even had the press box abuzz. While he is still out of position on occasion, he's very very good. Justin Taplin-Ross had a nice hit and was his solid self. The third and long conversions by UNLV are somewhat worrisome.
Special Teams C
Shaky Smithson looked great in the return game with the 77 yard highlight-reel punt return. He had a few other returns that he was close to breaking. Something needs to be done about the punting game. The punt block formation is not working as evidence by having punts blocked in back to back weeks.
I still don't understand the point formation. Two kicks have been blocked this year and two others could easily have been blocked. It obviously isn't working. Try something else. The game plan was conservative to say the least. The Utes had superior players, so the coaches let the talent of Utah overpower UNLV. Keeping Terrance Cain reeled in helped prevent a QB controversy going forward, although after seeing Cain in live action, Wynn is hands down the better quarterback. The defense is still prone to getting out of their lanes and not shedding the blocks they need to be shedding and some of that is coaching and preparation.
Team Grade- C+
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