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3 takeaways from No. 14 Utah’s win over San Diego State

SHARE 3 takeaways from No. 14 Utah’s win over San Diego State
Makai Cope  and Brant Kuithe, wearing black, of the Utah Utes jump

Makai Cope (11) and Brant Kuithe (80) of the Utah Utes jump after scoring a touchdown against the San Diego State Aztecs in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022.

Ben B. Braun, Deseret News

Utah improved to 2-1 with a dominant 35-7 win over San Diego State on Saturday night.

Here are three takeaways from the Utes’ win at Rice-Eccles Stadium:

Cameron Rising gets the wide receivers more involved

Through the first two games of the season, Utah struggled to get its wide receivers involved. With it being a talking point in press conferences leading up to Saturday’s game, Utah quarterback Cameron Rising and the Utes were able to get the wide receivers touches — and touchdowns — against SDSU.

While tight end Brant Kuithe again led the Utes with 64 receiving yards, Devaughn Vele had three catches for 38 yards and two touchdown and Solomon Enis had three catches for 35 yards and a touchdown.

Though he mostly targeted the tight ends in a rough first quarter passing-wise, Rising found connections with Utah’s wide receivers in the second quarter and beyond.

Rising was 10 for 12 in the second quarter, a vast improvement from going 4 for 12 for only 24 yards in the first period.

Enis caught a 13-yard touchdown pass and Vele caught a 15-yard touchdown pass.

Vele and Enis combined for 70 yards in the second quarter and were targeted a combined seven times.

The involvement of the wide receivers forced SDSU to pay them more attention, resulting in a wide open touchdown pass to Kuithe.

Utah’s defense turns in a great performance

Make that two great outings in a row for the Utah defense.

With the caveat that SDSU was playing its third-string freshman quarterback after starting QB Braxton Burmesiter was poked in the eye and left the game in the second quarter, you really can’t play better than Utah’s defense played on Saturday.

Utah held the Aztecs to 173 total yards and just 60 passing yards and SDSU did not cross the 50-yard line until late in the third quarter.

Through three quarters, Utah held the Aztecs to just 109 yards of total offense and only five first downs.

SDSU had only 27 passing yards through three quarters.

The Aztecs’ lone score of the game came late in the fourth quarter against Utah’s backups on a short field after a muffed punt by Utah, but the game was well out of reach by that point.

Cole Bishop was everywhere, leading the Utes with nine tackles and a pass breakup, and Karene Reid had an interception and assisted on a sack.

Utah starts slow for the second game in a row

Utah put a goose egg on the board in the first quarter against SDSU, starting slow at home again. At the end of the first quarter, the Utes had 89 total yards and did not get in the red zone. Utah had just 50 yards of rushing offense and 39 passing yards as the offense struggled to get going early on.

Utah’s defense gave the offense plenty of opportunities, holding SDSU scoreless and to just 35 yards of total offense, allowing only one first down, but the Utes’ offense could not take advantage.

Nothing was working for the Utes, on the ground or through the air, to start the game. The Aztecs’ defensive line got to Rising in the first quarter and stuffed the Utes’ running game.

Rising was looking for the tight ends throughout the first quarter, but was off target on his passes.

It was the second slow start in a row for Utah, which only scored seven points in the first quarter against SUU.