No. 14 Utah takes benefit of repeated Florida errors in 24-11 victory


Even with out two-time all-Pac-12 quarterback Cameron Emerging, No. 14 Utah had little bother caring for Florida in its 2023 opener.

Utah used the quarterback mixture of Bryson Barnes and Nate Johnson and a swarming protection to weigh down the Gators, 24-11, on Thursday to start out the season 1-0. It used to be additionally a little of revenge for the Utes after a heartbreaking Week 1 loss to the Gators in Gainesville ultimate fall.

There were hypothesis about Emerging’s availability after he suffered a major knee harm in ultimate 12 months’s Rose Bowl. With Emerging nonetheless at the mend, Barnes, a walk-on, were given the beginning and made his presence recognized from his first actual go.

As an alternative of enjoying it protected with a reserve quarterback, the Utes went with a play-action deep ball on their first play from scrimmage. Barnes discovered Cash Parks at the back of the protection for a 70-yard landing to ship Rice-Eccles Stadium right into a frenzy.

The Barnes-to-Parks connection gave the Utes a 7-0 lead — a lead they might by no means relinquish thank you largely to a long record of miscues from Billy Napier’s Gators.

Florida dedicated process consequences on 3 separate 1/3 or fourth-and-1 performs, together with one early in the second one quarter when Utah’s lead used to be 7-3.

Utah wide receiver Money Parks scores a touchdown against Florida early in the game Thursday, Aug. 31, 2023, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Utah huge receiver Cash Parks ratings a landing towards Florida early within the recreation Thursday, Aug. 31, 2023, in Salt Lake Town. (AP Photograph/Rick Bowmer)

The Gators, after dismissing the early Utah landing, strung in combination a pleasing pressure led through new quarterback Graham Mertz, a Wisconsin switch. Florida were given the entire strategy to Utah’s 9-yard line and stored the offense at the box for a fourth-and-1, most effective to devote a false get started penalty. From there, Napier, the second-year UF head trainer, despatched out his box function unit and kicker Adam Mihalek shanked a 31-yard check out.

At the resulting ownership, the Florida protection pressured a Utah punt most effective to present the ball again to the Utes in embarrassing model. When the Gators covered as much as box the punt, that they had two avid gamers at the box dressed in No. 3. That’s a substitution infraction penalty, and it gave Utah an automated first down.

4 performs later, the rapid Johnson broke off a 27-yard landing run to present Utah a 14-3 lead with 7:50 ultimate within the first part.

Florida doomed through self-inflicted errors

Extra Florida miscues ensued from there.

A 21-yard shanked punt from Jeremy Crawshaw set Utah up for a box function that gave the Utes a 17-3 halftime lead. Early within the 1/3 quarter, Florida freshman Eugene Wilson mistakenly fielded a punt within his personal 10-yard line, backing up Mertz and the Gators offense close to their very own finish zone. 3 performs later, Mertz used to be intercepted on a ball that deflected off Ricky Pearsall’s arms.

The interception gave Utah the ball at Florida’s 11-yard line. 3 performs later, Barnes ran it in from 5 yards out to extend Utah’s result in 24-3.

Florida’s distress didn’t finish there. The Gators’ subsequent pressure ended within the crimson zone thank you partially to any other ill-timed penalty. This time, it used to be an unlawful formation on third-and-1 from the Utah 13. A turnover on downs quickly adopted.

Florida did get into the top zone by way of a Mertz landing go on its fourth commute to the crimson zone, but it surely used to be too little, too overdue as Utah used to be in a position to get any other fourth-down prevent after which run out the fourth quarter clock to seal the win.

Utah defensive end Jonah Elliss (83) sacks Florida quarterback Graham Mertz (15) on Thursday, Aug. 31, 2023, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Utah defensive finish Jonah Elliss (83) sacks Florida quarterback Graham Mertz (15) on Thursday, Aug. 31, 2023, in Salt Lake Town. (AP Photograph/Rick Bowmer)

After all, Florida dedicated 9 consequences, mustered most effective 13 speeding yards, allowed 5 sacks and went a depressing 1-of-13 on third-down and 2-of-5 on fourth down within the loss. The Gators’ protection performed beautiful smartly, however the miscues on offense and particular groups had been an excessive amount of to conquer.

Utah completed the sport with most effective 270 yards of offense, 70 of which got here on that first play. After that preliminary lengthy landing, the Utes averaged most effective 3.8 yards in line with play, however their red-zone effectiveness and talent to capitalize on Florida’s errors in the end made an enormous distinction within the ultimate end result.

What does this imply for Utah?

It is an effective way for Utah to start out the season. Beating an SEC workforce is something, however to do it with a couple of reserve quarterbacks is any other factor.

It will be a slog to move this early season time table earlier than Emerging can go back — probably for convention play. The Utes will move to Baylor subsequent week in any other tricky non-conference matchup earlier than webhosting FCS Weber State in Week 3. This can be a self belief builder for the Utes’ younger quarterbacks if Emerging cannot play subsequent weekend in Waco, however replicating this sort of efficiency at the highway goes to be a problem.

Utah wasn’t in a position to run the ball a lot, and that’s the reason a little of a priority. However the Utes can lean on their protection to stick in video games, and that can be the recipe for head trainer Kyle Whittingham till Emerging can go back.

What is subsequent for Florida?

It wasn’t all dangerous for Florida. The protection, after that first play, performed a sexy forged ballgame. Mertz confirmed some indicators of existence in a a lot more attention-grabbing passing recreation than the only he performed in at Wisconsin, however the repeated self-inflicted errors don’t mirror definitely on Napier to start out his moment season in Gainesville.

Florida’s ineffectiveness on 1/3 down used to be obvious, as used to be the shortcoming to stay Mertz upright. The Gators additionally in reality struggled to run the ball, and the workforce’s pass-catching choices didn’t galvanize.

The Gators went 6-7 in Napier’s first season, and this used to be no longer a good strategy to get started his moment 12 months in rate. Subsequent week, Florida will get a discuss with from McNeese State earlier than a discuss with from No. 12 Tennessee in Week 3. There is a lot to scrub up earlier than the Vols come to the town.



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