NCF Nation: Lucky Radley
The victory leaves the Utes (4-5, 2-4 Pac-12) needing two wins in their final three games to keep their streak of eight straight postseasons alive. Washington State coach Mike Leach, however, sees his run of 10 bowl games in 10 seasons come to an end as the Cougars (2-7, 0-6) have been eliminated from postseason contention.
John White ran for two touchdowns and caught a third from quarterback Travis Wilson, who was an efficient 17-for-21 for 171 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. White carried 18 times for 101 yards and had touchdown runs for 47 and 2 yards.
Utah moves to 11-0 when White carries for at least 100 yards.
I can't leave out Utah's Reggie Dunn, who returned the opening kickoff of the second half 100 yards for a touchdown. Dunn returned two kickoffs for 100 yards last week. A pair of Coleman Petersen field goals and a 9-yard touchdown run from Lucky Radley rounded out the scoring for the Utes.
Washington State and Leach's vaunted Air Raid offense again struggled. The Cougars were held to 255 total yards by a stingy Utah defense, which forced a pair of turnovers, including an interception by Reggie Topps, and six sacks.
It was almost the third time this season that Washington State's offense had been kept out of the end zone, but a 5-yard touchdown pass from Jeff Tuel to Kristoff Williams on the game's final play prevented the shutout.
Utah's offense, however, didn't have many issues against a Washington State defense that had shown some improvement in recent weeks. The Utes totaled 453 yards of offense, including 205 yards on the ground.
"We're starting to figure it out," Utah coach Kyle Whittingham told the Pac-12 Network after the game. "We've still got work to do, but when you look at the last four weeks, I think we've taken a step forward in each of those four weeks and we're closer to where we need to be."
Utah coach Kyle Whittingham would be the first to acknowledge that the early half of national signing day was a little unsettling.
The Utes suffered a couple early blows by losing receiver Avery Williams to West Virginia and four-star defensive tackle Ricky Heimuli to Oregon. But as the day wore on, the Utes started to rally and put together what some consider the best class among the nonautomatic qualifying schools.
“We had a good rally on signing day,” Whittingham said. “We had a good idea that that might happen, but you never know for sure. We were able to get a few guys on signing day that were a few pleasant surprises. I won’t say surprises, but it was good to see their commitment sheets come in.”
The biggest name on the board is Fullerton Community College offensive tackle John Cullen, who picked the Utes over USC. Cullen, who took a late visit to Salt Lake City, said he connected with Utah quarterback Jordan Wynn and that that was part of the draw of coming to Utah. For the Utes, Cullen’s decision fills one of the few immediate voids on the depth chart.
“If you had to pinpoint a pressing need, it was probably replacing Zane Beadles at left tackle and John Cullen certainly gives us a leg up on that,” Whittingham said.
Cullen is one of four junior college players the Utes brought in for 2010.
The other saviors of the Utes' class were running back Lucky Radley and V.J. Fehoko, a linebacker and the only Hawaiian in the Utes’ class. Fehoko is rated as the No. 14 inside linebacker by ESPN’s Scouts Inc.
The addition of Radley brings the Utes’ scholarship running back total to five, but that could move to six should senior Matt Asiata earn a medical hardship waiver from the NCAA and be allowed to play in 2010.
The Utes also picked up two quarterbacks in Brian Blechen and Tyler Shreve since Terrance Cain is a senior and the Utes will only have two quarterbacks on the roster in 2011. However, Whittingham said he doesn’t plan to keep all four at quarterback. He noted that Griff Robles, who will be a redshirt freshman this year, and Blechen are athletic enough to play other positions.
“We really had a situation this year where we were really looking for the best athletes across the board. We didn’t really have an area that was decimated by graduation or what have you. We had the luxury to just take the best players we came across and I think we had a good cross section of players.”