Nate Orchard wins 2014 Ted Hendicks Award

Nate Orchard wins 2014 Ted Hendicks Award

Utah’s Nate Orchard (Photo: Rob Gray)

Utah’s Nate Orchard was announced Wednesday as the winner of the Ted Hendricks Award as the nation’s top defensive end, beating out an impressive cast of finalists from higher-profile programs.

Orchard averaged an FBS-high 1.46 sacks per game for the Utes, totaling 17.5 for a Utah pass rush that led the nation in the category (52). The senior is considered among the top pass-rushing prospects for the 2015 List at 6-foot-4, 255 pounds, he is considered a likely linebacker at the next lever ran than defensive end. Orchard made 81 tackles, 20 for losses, and forced two fumbles this season.
Nate Orchard wins 2014 Ted Hendicks Award - Utah Sporting News

Nate Orchard (Photo Rob Gray)

Other finalists for the award included USC star junior Leonard Williams, Ohio State sophomore Joey Bosa, Clemson senior Vic Beasley, Washington senior Hau’oli Kikaha and Missouri junior Shane Ray.

Past winners include Jackson Jeffcoat of Texas, Jadeveon Clowney of South Carolina, LaMarr Woodley of Michigan and Terrell Suggs of Arizona State.

Nate Orchard wins 2014 Ted Hendicks Award

Nate Orchard wins 2014 Ted Hendicks Award - Utah Sporting News

Nate Orchard (Photo: Rob Gray)

Utah Football drops Oregon St. 29-23 in double OT

Utah Football Devantae Booker

Devantae Booker (Photo: Rob Gray)

Corvallis, OR – Utah football drops Oregon St. 29-23 in double OT despite having only 62 Passing Yards, three third down conversions and using two different quarterbacks. Utah’s Devontae Booker was the work horse for the win along with kicker Andy Phillips. Devontae Booker ran 19 yards for a touchdown in the second overtime to give No. 20 Utah a 29-23 victory while Phillips went 3-3 on field goals from 46, 43 and 38 yards to keep Utah in the game. He is 13-of-15 this season and 30-of-35 over his career, including a 9-of-11 mark from 40 yards or more.

Utah football quarterback Kendall Thompson

Utah quarterback Kendall Thompson (Photo: Rob Gray)

The first half saw Utah getting on the board first with what appeared to be a touchdown by Dres Anderson but he failed to hold onto the ball through the catch all the way to the ground as the defender raked the ball from his hands on his third step after the catch.  Utah settled on a Phillips field goal and went up 3-0.  Phillips nailed his second field goal to put Utah up 6-0.  The Beaver’s kicker wasn’t going to be outdone and responded with two field goals of his own as Romain hit a 37 and 45 yard field goal the second coming as time expired at the end of the first half.  The first half ended with the score of 6-6 all scoring coming from the kickers.

The second half started with OSU taking the ball first as they deferred the kickoff to the second half. Beaver’s QB Sean Mannion had a nice pass of 14 yards to start the series but stalled out as they had to punt after the next three plays failed to move the chains.  Oregon St was kicking to Kaelin Clay, one of the most dangerous return men in the country, but he didn’t have a chance to return this punt.  Travis Wilson entered the game for Kendall Thompson whom ended his first half series with a fumble as he loosely carried the ball in a run situation.  Wilson, who at this point has proved to be  a better passer than Thompson, can spread out the offense as the play book is bigger for him.  The first play saw Booker break out on a 42 yard run to the OSU 40 yard line.  Utah continued to move the ball getting all the way to the OSU 21 yard line when Wilson dropped the snap from center.  Utah recovered the fumble but lost yards on a critical third down situation making an easy chip shot field goal a more difficult 45+ yard driving kick.  Phillips drilled the field goal from 46 yards to put Utah up 9-6 and that’s all the scoring in third quarter as both teams struggled to move the ball consistently.

Utah Football vs Oregon StThe fourth quarter saw Oregon St get some momentum as on their first possession of the quarter Sean Mannion hit Villamin on a big touchdown pass that went 72 yards.  Another three and out for Utah and the Beaver’s went to work on the clock.  The long drive ended with an Oregon St punt that pinned Utah on their own six yard line and a long drive ahead to try and win the game.  A field goal wouldn’t work this time the Utes needed a touchdown. Two passes from Wilson one to Anderson for 11 and a first down and one to Kenneth Scott who we held and the pass interference call moved the ball to the Utah 33.  This is when Devantae Booker went to work.  Running the ball the next seven plays including a one yard touchdown run on fourth down.  OSU had 3:34 seconds to drive down and at least get a field goal to send this game into overtime. Mannion went to work with six passes and a couple runs by Terron Ward to get the ball to the Utah 26 when Mannion was sacked by Fauonuku. The Beaver’s kicker Trevor Romaine had to hit a 49 yard field goal to send the game to overtime with no time left.  Romaine nailed it right down the middle – overtime.

Overtime started with Utah getting the ball first and scored a TD, Oregon State answered on a fourth-down prayer to Villamin. Then, the Beavers failed to score at all in the second OT, and Utah scored easily scored on Bookers second touchdown of the Overtime.

Utah Football - Utah Sporting News

Utah’s Nate Orchard (Photo Rob Gray)

The defense really shined for Utah with linebacker Gionni Paul leading the way with 14 tackles and an interception.  Pita Taumoepenu had 1.5 sacks and Hunter Dimick had another great game logging 1.5 tackles for loss. The Utes turned in a total of 10 tackles for loss with five sacks, led by a game-high four TFLs by Nate Orchard including two sacks. Orchard has 10.5 sacks this season, the first Ute with 10 more sacks in a season since 2000. The Salt Lake City native now has 13 tackles for loss this season.

Special teams continues to be a force for Utah as punter Tom Hackett had two punts downed inside the 10 and five of seven were with the 20-yard line. He has placed 18 of his 37 punts (48.6%) inside the 20 this year. He has 12 punts inside the 10 yard line this season (30 career).

Utah football quarterback Travis Wilson

Utah quarterback Travis Wilson (Photo : Rob Gray)

Offensively the Utes started with Kendal Thompson who made his first start of the season.  This was also the first game a team has been able to scheme for Thompson’s running ability and held him to 20 rushing yards and throw 17 yards on 4 completions on 8 attempts. Travis Wilson took over in the second half and finished 5-of-10 for 45 yards.  The Utes were led by Dres Anderson with four catches for 35 yards but the player of the game was Devontae Booker. who in the last 3 games for Utes: 89 carries for 563 rushing yards and 5 TDs.

Utah Football Game Notes

The boys of had 5 total sacks for a loss of 39 total yards.

Utah had 10 plays of 10+ yards and six belonged to Booker. 12, 42, 14, 53, 15, 19.

At 5-1, Utah is tied with Oregon, Washington, and Arizona for the best overall record in the Pac-12.

PAC12 coaches asked why home teams are losing conference games at historic level (4-15). None had any idea. Just point to parity

The challenge the Utes face now is do they have a quarterback moving forward or are they going to continue to use two quarterbacks.  The skill players aren’t cutting it for them this year.  The Oregon State game was the first time a team has been able to scheme for

Dropsies are like a virus.  This is a mental issue and seems to be spreading.  The problem is the QB doesn’t have confidence in throwing the ball when balls or dropped and/or deflected for an interception.  We need the skill players to step up and make a play.  The poor skill position play trickles down the line to the other players.  The running game can’t continue as the defenses stack more and more in the box as was done last year.   The intermediate pass plays are all we need for the quarterbacks.

Drez Anderson did well on perimeter passes but has trouble when the defense gets physical with him.  He needs to rise to the occasion and hold on to the ball as he is a brilliant receiver.  Two thought on this situation. First, He must do very well in practice never dropping a ball because the coaches and quarterbacks haven’t stopped targeting him and have a lot of faith in him.  Second, the receivers behind him aren’t good and what we have is the best we have.  All is well though for Utah offense, the Utes have Booker who seems to get yards regardless of how great the defense is he is going against.

What we know about Utah Football midway through the season


Devontae  Booker is the guy for the offense, should have been the #1 for the entire season.

Nate Orchard is the guy for the defense

Special teams is the best in the country


Receivers having trouble holding on to the ball

Quarterback play is serviceable and good enough to win the games before them.  With the special teams and defense Utah has this year, they only need a QB that manages the game well and doesn’t turn the ball over.  Get the ball to Booker.

 Next up for Utah will be USC at Rice Eccles Stadium.

* All Utah Football photos by Rob Gray use with permission for ESPN 700 Sports.

Preview – Utah vs Oregon State Football

Preview – Utah vs Oregon State Football

We should find out this week (week six) what this Utah is really like.  I know we have been saying this since the Fresno State game in week two.  The Washington St loss at home was canceled out by beat a then ranked #8 UCLA team on the road.

How many sacks will Utah have on Oregon St QB Sean Mannion this week? I am calling the Over/Under for #SackLakeCity at 5 with Nate Orchard having 2.5 of the sacks.

Utah vs Oregon State

Sean Mannion

Utah vs Oregon State

Nate Orchard

2014 Utah Football Schedule

Utah vs Arizona State

2014 Utah Football Schedule

Aug. 28 (Thu.) Idaho State Salt Lake City
Sept. 6 Fresno State Salt Lake City
Sept. 13 open
Sept. 20 at Michigan Ann Arbor, Mich.
Sept. 27 Washington State* (hc) Salt Lake City
Oct. 4 at UCLA* Los Angeles
Oct. 11 open
Oct. 16 (Thu.) at Oregon State* Corvallis, Ore.
Oct. 25 USC* Salt Lake City
Nov. 1 at Arizona State* Tempe, Ariz.
Nov. 8 Oregon* Salt Lake City
Nov. 15 at Stanford* Stanford, Calif.
Nov. 22 Arizona* Salt Lake City
Nov. 29 at Colorado* Boulder, Colo.

*Pac-12 game; (hc)-Homecoming

Utes Bounce Colorado to End 2013 Season

Utah vs ColoradoSALT LAKE CITY  – Kelvin York ran for two touchdowns, Jake Murphy caught a TD pass from Adam Schulz, and a second half field goal topped the Utah scoring as Utah went on to beat the Buff of Colorado 24-17 Saturday afternoon at Rice Eccles Stadium.  The game culminated with senior Defensive End / Linebacker Trevor Reilly grabbing a late interception and throwing it into the south end zone stands to end his final game as a Ute.

The Utah vs Colorado showdown matches up the two teams at the bottom of the Pac-12 South. The Utes jumped out to a 21-0 first-half lead but the Buffs weren’t going out without a fight.   Colorado quarterback Sefo Luifau threw a TD pass to Nelson Spruce to the side of the north end zone on a 4th and 10 play that would have been nail in the coffin for the Buffs had it not been completed. The completed touchdown left 2:30 remaining in the game and an onside kick their only option to try to ty up the game.  The ball bounced high and out of bounds on the Buffs sideline.

Utah vs ColoradoUtah ran the ball to work the clock as to work clock but were unable to get a first down so the Buffs were able to get the ball one last time. Tom Hackett had another brilliant punt inside of the 10 yard line.  On the next play, defensive end Reilly dropped back from the line and caught the ball at the 21-yard-line.  Trevor ran a few steps and slide to the ground after which him jumped up and threw the ball into the into the south end zone and ran to the sidelines to some harsh words from the coaching staff as flags flew for the display.

Utah vs ColoradoAdam Schulz, a former walk-on who had no D1 scholarship offers, had a good game for Utah going 19 of 33 and 233 yards.  Schulz is now 1-2 as a starter after taking over for Travis Wilson who struggled with injuries to his hand and brain that started in the huge win over Stanford.

Utah vs ColoradoColorado quarterback Luifau was pressured mercilessly in the first half but finished 23 of 46 for 241 yards and two touchdowns for the Buffs. In the third quarter, Luifau finally had time to throw and lofted a pass to Scott Fernandez down the middle of the field for a 34-yard touchdown.

Just when it looked like the Utes would put the game out of reach late in the third quarter, the Buffaloes made a big play. Jake Murphy caught a pass near the goal line and as he reached for the end zone, he lost the ball and Jeffrey Hall returned the fumble for 42 yards. A 15-yard face mask penalty on Schulz tacked on 15 yards.  Schulz also appeared to have been injured on the play as well as he was examined on the sideline.  He seemed to have shaken off the injury and returned on the next Utah possession.

Utah vs ColoradoColorado on their next possession ended up kicking a 19 yard field goal by Will Oliver to set the score at 21-10 with 12:17 to play.  Utah kicker Andy Phillips had the opportunity to match Colorado’s kicker with his own field goal from 46 yards out..

The opportunistic Utes used two fumble recoveries to spark short touchdown drives in the first quarter. The Buffaloes had just 11 fumbles all season but Liufau was sacked by Tenny Palepoi and lost the ball at the Colorado 34.

Utah vs ColoradoSchulz completed three passes on the drive to Jake Murphy the last of which was a 16-yard touchdown. Murphy, in his third game back from a broken wrist, had eight catches for 93 yards.  Murphy has been a spark to the Utah offense since his return and a main target for Schulz as he started his first game the same game Murphy returned.

A highlight of the game was an attempted pass by Colorado QB Luifau that was knocked out of his hand just before he made the throw. Ute tackle Tuipolutu took the ball off a bounce and returned the ball to the Colorado 6-yard-line. On the next play, York ran up the middle and Utah led 14-0.  Kelvin York has a fantastic game when he scored again from one yard out after Dres Anderson highlighted an 80-yard drive with a 49-yard dazzling catch. In his final game as a Ute, York posted a career-highs in yards and carries (31).

Utah vs ColoradoIn the first half, Addison Gillam intercepted Schulz and returned it to the Utah 5. But the Buffs couldn’t capitalize on the mistake by the Utes and instead of taking the three points on a short field goal,  Colorado decided to attempt a shot at a touch down on a 4th and goal situation. Trevor Reilly came up big on the play and stopped the run short of the goal and the Utes took over on downs.

For the season the Utes finish 5 – 7 and with only two victories in conference.  The biggest of those wins coming against then 5th ranked Stanford.  After a 10 consecutive season ending in bowl games, the Utes have now finished back-to-back campaigns with losing records.