Utah hosts Oregon State, looks for first win of season
Coach Kyle Whittingham and Utah are 0-2, the first time the team has been winless after two games since 2007.
Utah has been hard-pressed to match its previous success, which was built on a stout defense. The Utes earned the Pac-12 South Division title in 2019.
The difference this season has been a young defense with only two returning starters. The secondary features freshmen or sophomores.
Utah on Saturday night is scheduled to host an upstart Oregon State team (2-2) that is coming off a 41-38 upset of rival Oregon last week. The Beavers’ quarterback, Tristan Gebbia, suffered a hamstring injury late in that game and is doubtful to play in the conference matchup against Utah.
“It is significantly more serious than we initially thought after the game,” Oregon State coach Jonathan Smith said Monday. “We’re going to gather some more information … and we’re hopeful we can get him up to full speed by the end of the week. We’ll see where that goes.”
If Gebbia is unable to play, the Beavers will start Chance Nolan on Saturday. After Gebbia’s injury against Oregon, which was ranked No. 15 in the nation, Nolan scored the go-ahead touchdown late against the Ducks on the first snap of his college career, a 1-yard run.
Utah is coming off a 24-21 loss at Washington last week after the Utes led 21-0 at halftime.
Whittingham tried to draw positives out of the close outcome after the Utes lost 33-17 at home to USC the previous week.
“The encouraging thing is that’s who we can be in the first half,” Whittingham said. “That’s the football team we are capable of being. Three takeaways on defense. But same problem we had last week, offensively turning the ball over.”
Utah quarterback Jake Bentley threw for 144 yards and one touchdown, with two interceptions, against Washington. He also rushed for a touchdown but had a fumble.
“Just not executing the way we can,” Bentley said. “I don’t think anyone had a change of mindset or anything like that. It’s just lack of execution. Some we just got to go back to practice and get it right.”
Despite Utah’s lack of experience on defense, the unit is allowing an average of only 90.5 rushing yards per game, which ranks first in the Pac-12 and seventh in the FBS.
The Utes will try to contain Oregon State’s Jermar Jefferson, who has four consecutive 100-yard rushing games, the longest active streak in the nation. He is looking to become the first Beavers running back with five consecutive 100-yard performances against conference opponents since Steven Jackson nearly two decades ago.
–Field Level Media