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How the Utes’ defense became so dialed in

After sub-par outing in Gainesville to open the season, the Utah defense has shown marked improvement

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Utah defensive end Gabe Reid waits the snap during game against Arizona State, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022, in Tempe, Ariz.

Utah defensive end Gabe Reid waits the snap during game against Arizona State, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022, in Tempe, Ariz. The Stanford transfer is happy the Utah defense has performed better after early setback to Florida.

Rick Scuteri, Associated Press

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In the season opener at Florida back on Sept. 3, Utah’s defense struggled, missing 27 tackles and, at times, making Gator quarterback Anthony Richardson look like a Heisman Trophy candidate.

But since then, the Utes have been dialed in.

Utah has given up a total of 27 points in its last three games. How has the defense been able to rebound?

“I think just staying motivated. In the locker room, the feeling that was present and just kind of the overall vibe is something we don’t ever want to feel again as a defense,” said defensive lineman Gabe Reid. “We’ve taken that feeling and brought it with us each and every day. Each and every practice. And each week as we’ve taken the field. So just continuing to build and not get overconfident and not forget the feeling we had when we lost in Gainesville.”

This week, the Utes host Oregon State in their Pac-12 home opener.

“We’ve got more than our fair share of mistakes to clean up,” Reid said. “But I’m really happy that we as a defense are starting to come together. I think the coaches are as well.”

In case you missed it

Utah’s offense suffered a big blow last Saturday in the 34-13 win over Arizona State as tight end Brant Kuithe sustained a season-ending injury.

Now the Utes will be counting on a tight end from Australia to help bolster that position. Thomas Yassmin arrived at Utah with zero experience playing American football. He had a 72-yard reception against the Sun Devils. And more is expected from him as the season progresses.

Numbers game

148: Career receptions for Utah tight end Brant Kuithe.

1,882: Career receiving yards for Kuithe.

From the archives

Extra points

  • For a league on the ropes, Pac-12 is showing some fight (Deseret News)
  • ‘We are a lot different, no doubt’: Bigger, stronger, more athletic Runnin’ Utes open camp with eight new faces (Deseret News)
  • Losing Brant Kuithe is big ‘big blow’ to Utah’s offense; who will step up in his place? (Deseret News)
  • 3 players that made an impact for Utah against Arizona State (Deseret News)
  • No doubt, No. 12 Utah will be tested in October (Deseret News)
  • Why Tavion Thomas didn’t play in the first half of Utah’s win over ASU (Deseret News)
  • No. 13 Utah wins Pac-12 opener, but it comes at a price (Deseret News)


Comments from Deseret News readers:

Utah played rather poorly compared to their potential. Red zone missed opportunities and some bad kickoff coverage. They didn’t look terribly interested for at least the 2nd half. Now that said ... it shows how far the program has come in the last decade to play an uninspired game - and still handily defeat a storied Arizona State team in Tempe and have a ton of red clad fans at an away game. Perspective is important.

—96 U

Feel terrible for Kuithe and suspect the next time we see him, it will be in the NFL. Defense was tremendous and basically won the game. Offense wasn’t sharp with dropped passes and continued red zone issues but still got over 30 points again.

—CO Ute

Up next

Sept. 29 | 8 p.m. | Soccer | vs. Washington | @Seattle | Pac-12 Mountain

Sept. 30 | 8 p.m. | Volleyball | vs. UCLA | @Los Angeles | UCLA Live Stream

Oct. 1 | Noon | Football | vs. Oregon State | @Salt Lake City | Pac-12 Networks

Oct. 2 | 1 p.m. | Soccer | vs. Washington State | @Pullman, Washington | Pac-12 Network

Oct. 2 | 2 p.m. | Volleyball | vs. USC | @Los Angeles | Pac-12 Insider