Eric Purdy recaps the Utah Utes loss to the Oregon Ducks including Kaelin Clay’s drop before the goal line.
Nov 8, 2014; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Utah Utes wide receiver Kaelin Clay (8) reacts thinking he scored a touchdown but the ball is live as he dropped it prior to entering the end zone. The Oregon Ducks returned the fumble for a touchdown during the first half at Rice-Eccles Stadium. (Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports)
SALT LAKE CITY, (C+P) — Every coach should teach their players that you never drop the football a yard before you cross over the goal line…never drop the football whenever you are holding it for crying out loud! Sleep with it! Wait 5 seconds for the whistle to blow, not five seconds before the whistle. If you do decide to drop the ball a yard from the end zone at least don’t start celebrating until 5 seconds after the whistle. It can be the difference between a game-changing 7-point lead and a 24-point loss to the number 4- ranked team in the country.
The Utes (6-3, 3-3, No. 20 AP) were on their way to taking a two-touchdown lead on the first play of the second quarter when Travis Wilson connected with Kaelin Clay on a deep ball down the middle. Clay was cruising but, but he left something important behind…the football! You have to have a football for the points to count, Mr. Clay. Remember that next week. Utah fans will forgive you this time because of the 152 yards on five catches you had recorded. Next week, well, just don’t let it happen again, and the Utah faithful will still buy your Fathead in a few years.
Apparently, Oregon coaches have trained their players to stand around by the ball. If it drops as a player crosses into the end zone, nonchalantly pick the ball up, look around to see if the other team is celebrating their mistake and then slowly start walking away. Then, when nobody is paying attention, start running, and keep running until you are in the opponents end zone and the ref signals a touchdown. It could be the difference between you winning by 24 over the number 17-ranked team in the country. Okay, yes, then you can celebrate. Oregon scored the next 17 points, including two short touchdown passes by Marcus Mariota.
Dropping the football a yard short of the end zone is the least of Utah’s problems right now. It might help when you decide to have a brain fart if your offense could move the football and get more points to replace the points you just gave to the other team.
If Utah could put together a solid string of drives this season and keep that tenacious defense off the field for at least 2 minutes, they would probably be sitting in a much better position in the Pac-12. The Utah defense has proven to be one of the best in the country but would be even better if the Utah offense could muster more than 191 yards per game and give the defense better field position. The Utes, who lead the nation in sacks, finished with four.
The Ducks scored the final 21 points after Utah got within three early in the fourth quarter to pull out a 51-27 victory on Saturday night. Yes, when the defense has to spend three full quarters pulling guard duty at 100% anybody is bound to give up more points in the 4th quarter when the gas tank reaches red. Everybody knows you have to fill up the boat sometimes when you go out duck hunting!
Injuries are plaguing a very talented Utah squad. That does not help an offense struggling to find a rhythm.
Utah gave Kendal Thompson his second start of the season, hoping his quickness and ability to run the option would come in handy against the Ducks.
He led the Utes to a touchdown on their first drive, but on the next Thompson’s knee appeared to buckle as he threw a deep pass. The junior went down and needed to be helped off. He left the sideline and returned later in street clothes. Utes coach Kyle Whittingham confirmed after the game that Thompson injured his left leg and would miss the rest of the year.
Devontae Booker, the Pac-12 second-leading rusher, had a big day. As a receiver, he had eight catches for 110 yards, including a 27-yard touchdown with 3:28 left in the third quarter that cut the lead to 27-20.
Utah’s Travis Wilson did not get the start but threw for 297 yards and two touchdowns after Thompson went out with an injury in the first quarter.
Utah will hit the road this week to face Stanford.