Utes want touchdowns as fast as they can get them

By Dirk Facer, Deseret News

Published: Tue, Sept. 2, 2014, 7:45 p.m. MDT

 Utah Utes quarterback Travis Wilson (7) celebrates his touchdown with Utah Utes wide receiver Kenneth Scott (2) during PAC 12 action in Salt Lake City  Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014.  Utah won 56-14.

Utah Utes quarterback Travis Wilson (7) celebrates his touchdown with Utah Utes wide receiver Kenneth Scott (2) during PAC 12 action in Salt Lake City Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014. Utah won 56-14.

(Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s faster-paced offense put some points on the board quickly against Idaho State. The Utes mounted four touchdown drives of 2:16 or less, including three that took 42 seconds and under to complete in the 56-14 season-opening win over the Bengals.

“I think that’s indicative of fast-paced offense. When you have a fast-paced offense the drives are going to be quicker just by virtue,” said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham. “Even a six-play drive is going to be faster than a six-play drive with an offense that doesn’t run high tempo just because of the time in the huddle and that type of thing. So we’re really not concerned with the time it takes to get in the end zone.

“Obviously longer drives gives your defense a rest — whether its six, eight, 10 plays. We want to avoid three-and-outs,” he continued. “The worst thing that can happen to a high-tempo offense is three-and-out and get the defense back on the field 45 seconds later. So as long as we can avoid the three-and-outs, we’ll take touchdowns just as fast as we can get them.”

The Utes, who had just two three-and-outs in the opener, wound up scoring four of their six touchdowns against Idaho State in drives that lasted just over two minutes. The 66 percent pace is higher than 2013, when they scored 53.6 percent of their TDs in 2:16 or less.

Circumstances and situations present obvious variables, as does the opposition. Last year, Utah scored seven of its nine touchdowns against Weber State in drives that were no longer than 1:34.

This season, however, a faster tempo is being emphasized and Whittingham was fairly pleased with what took place in the opener. He thought it was about right.

“You’re always trying to force the tempo and play as fast as you can. But not at the expense of lack of execution as I’ve said many times,” Whittingham noted. “I think that there is a point of diminishing returns where you try to go too fast and although we may not be going as fast as ideal, I think we’re pushing that envelope and we’re very close.”

Starting quarterback Travis Wilson appreciates the tempo, even though he thinks there’s always room for improvement

“But I definitely felt like we were catching Idaho State out of their defense a little bit. They were still getting lined up at times when we were snapping the ball — so definitely an advantage there,” Wilson explained. “But like I said, we can always get better and faster as well.”

Wilson directed all four of Utah’s quick-strike drives against the Bengals, capping one with a 2-yard touchdown run and another with a 26-yard scoring strike to Kenneth Scott. The other two ended with TD runs by Bubba Poole and Devontae Booker.

The Utes’ first four touchdown drives from scrimmage consisted of a combined total of 18 plays, 266 yards and 3:46 off the clock.

“Obviously we want to give our defense a rest a little bit if they’ve been out there awhile. But it’s our job on offense to score and if that’s scoring quicker then that’s what we need to do,” Wilson said. "But it’s definitely good just to get points on the board.”

As the season progresses, Wilson explained that the offense is determined to keep on doing what it's doing — and efficiently as well.

Fresno State, Utah’s opponent on Saturday, gave up four touchdowns to USC’s offense on drives of 2:31 or less in a 52-13 loss last weekend. The Trojans racked up 701 yards of total offense, 37 first downs and ran 105 plays.

"Obviously it hurts, but at the same time I know that is not the type of defense that we are," Fresno State safety Derron Smith said in a report on the athletic department’s website. "We just got to come back, watch the film and get better."

Fresno State (0-1) at Utah (1-0)

Rice-Eccles Stadium

Saturday, 1 p.m.

TV: Pac-12 Networks

Radio: ESPN 700

Email: dirk@desnews.com

Twitter: @DirkFacer

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Utes focused solely on Fresno State

Dirk Facer
Sept. 2, 2014

Alex Smith The Game Manager

Doug Robinson
Sept. 2, 2014
1. 2013 Ute Seniors SWEEP byU 4-0
Ogden, UT,
Sept. 2, 2014

TD's will come - that's why Coach Whit, Erickson, and Christensen have been working on NASCAR offense.

Coach Christensen regularly put up 40+ points a game - against big boy teams in a big boy conference.

With just a couple more points per game last year its a completely different season. And that will happen this year.

We WILL go 7-5 and Coach Christenesn is going to SAVE whit's job.

2. AltaHawkFan
Sandy, UT,
Sept. 2, 2014

Problem ... coach christensen put up those points before using big boy players. Sorry but the utes won't have a winning record for the 3rd straight year and will be watching the bowls at home on their sofas.

3. PacUtes
Salt Lake, UT,
Sept. 2, 2014

Be careful...on the other hand, this will mean Utes defense has no time to rest too.

So Utah also need to have ability to run 4 yards here...6 yards there...to take time
off the clock while defense rests.

4. sammyg
Springville, UT,
Sept. 2, 2014

For crying out loud, it was Idaho State and it was USC against Fresno.

These Whit comments are hilarious.

5. Sanefan
Wellsville, UT,
Sept. 2, 2014

Uh Huh!