Publish date:

Five Takeaways from Utah's Loss to Arizona

Author:
Devontae Booker

Devontae Booker

Arizona showed it still has Utah's number. For the fourth consecutive season, the Wildcats dealt the Utes a damaging loss. Arizona prevailed 37-30 in overtime against a Utah team that was in the driver's seat for a Pac-12 South title.

Image placeholder title

The entire landscape has changed for head coach Kyle Whittingham's team following its second loss of the season. Here are five key things we learned from the Utes' setback to the Wildcats:

1. Rose Bowl or bust

Utah can forget about claiming a College Football Playoff Spot now. Even if Utah wins out, the best that the Utes can hope for now is a spot in the Rose Bowl. It would still be a huge accomplishment for the program to make it to Pasadena. It also will feel a little bittersweet for a team that was ranked No. 3 and looked like a lock for a Playoff spot before losing to USC.

Recommended Articles

2. Utah does not control its own destiny

The Utes need help securing a Pac-12 South title now. Utah must beat UCLA and Colorado over the next two weeks and then hope either the Bruins or Oregon can trip up USC along the way. The Trojans are tied with Utah for first in the division currently and hold a tiebreaker by virtue of their 42-24 win over the Utes.

3. Utah can't move the ball without Devontae Booker

It really cost the Utes when Booker got banged up. The senior played much of the second half and both overtime periods on a hobbled leg. Utah could not finish drives and the play-calling did not adjust to account for Booker being less than 100 percent. In the end, Utah scored only three points after taking a 27-20 lead in the third quarter and finished with the second-fewest points of any Pac-12 team Arizona has faced this season.

4. Injuries taking their toll

Booker's second half leg injury is just the latest in a string of injuries to key players for Utah. The senior is questionable for Saturday's game against UCLA. The Utes have had center Siaosi Aiono, defensive end Hunter Dimick, cornerback Reggie Porter and linebacker Jared Norris sit out games because of injuries this season. Other important players like safety Chase Hansen and tight end Siale Fakailoatonga have suffered season-ending injuries. Utah has better depth to weather the storm than in past seasons, but injuries are still leaving the Utes thin at important positions.

5. Utah's offense has grown too predictable

Utah appeared to have broken out of its conservative shell on offense when the Utes routed Oregon in their Pac-12 opener. Since that game, the Ute offense has regressed back to a conservative scheme that has been a trademark of recent seasons. Utah ran the ball 52 times out of a total of 87 plays. Out of the team's 35 pass plays, 17 came in second-and-long or third-and-long situations. Utah should dial up some more creativity in short-yardage situations to keep opposing defenses off balance and uncover more options on offense.

— Written by John Coon, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Coon has more than a decade of experience covering sports for different publications and outlets, including The Associated Press, Salt Lake Tribune, ESPN, Deseret News, MaxPreps, Yahoo! Sports and many others. Follow him on Twitter @johncoonsports.