Oregon handed Utah its first loss of the season, snapping the nation's longest active win streak at 16 games. The loss also snapped a nine-game road win streak for the Utes and a five-game win streak against BCS-conference opponents.
Neither team played all that well as both teams combined for six turnovers, 16 penalties, and less then 33 percent on third downs. Oregon just happened to play a little better and that punt return for a touchdown by Walter Thurmond III was huge. On that punt return CB RJ Stanford was one of the last players to make a play but it seemed like he was jogging 20 yards out while being within range to tackle Thurmond. This was odd because Stanford allegedly has sub 4.35 speed but used none of it to make a play.
Currently on Stanford he did not get beat all that much, but it was bad enough --at least in my amateur scouting eye-- and will be replaced by Justin Jones with Stanford going to be the first nickle back.
The run defense which was to be Utah's strength but in this game Oregon ran all over Utah. Oregon was lead by LaMichael James who had 152 yards, also QB Jeremiah Masoli made timely runs to keep drives going and happened to score two touchdowns. However Oregon was able to win by only completing four passes.
This game was the first big test for the young QB Terrance Cain who threw for under 200 yards and threw two bad interceptions. The big pick was thrown to Duck linebacker Eddie Pleasant which set up a 31-yard field goal that gave 31 points and extend their lead to seven.
The big reason Utah was struggling in this game was that RB Matt Asiata was not 100 percent with his shoulder injury, which left the Utes to rely on no quarterback Terrance Cain. Cain was inaccurate and not able to connect to open receivers down field. Asiata was only able to gain 54 yards on the afternoon, which meant Cain had to pass the ball more then they really wanted to. One surprise is that Utah has not used the wide receiver in the jet sweep or end around plays as they did in the past. This game seemed like the perfect opportunity to bring that play back to be able to create a running game.
Also, as I mentioned last game is that Terrance Cain either does not have the confidence or has not run the zone read option. He did run the play once and beat the defensive ends for a modest gain, but that was only once. Cain needs to learn to take the ball and run to the edge, even if the gain would be modest. The reason is to keep the defense honest and not just attack the middle.
The down fall for Utah was that Terrance Cain was asked to make too many plays on offense which forced Utah into too many third and long plays which then again extended the burden placed on Cain; Utah was five of eighteen on third downs. The weather and lack of a kicking game changed the Utah game plan. If Utah had a capable kicker the Utes could have had a few more points on the board with a field goal or two, plus the play calling is different on third down when kicking a field goal was not going to be an option on fourth down.
Utah fans and the players should not be discouraged, because Utah was able to come back from a 21-7 deficit to get within four points before that late game interception; Autzen Stadium is one of the toughest places to play and with a young quarterback and receivers can be seen as a good thing.