Utah’s coaches name it “star protection,” a scheme made well-known when former Ute defensive again Eric Weddle shut down Georgia Tech receiver Calvin Johnson in a 2005 bowl victory.
In Saturday’s episode, Utah cornerback Jaylon Johnson performed the position of Weddle in opposition to Oregon receiver Dillon Mitchell, simply in time to protect the Utes’ 32-25 victory at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
Johnson’s breakup of quarterback Justin Herbert’s quick move supposed for Mitchell on a fourth-and-5 play on the Utah 45-yard line halted Oregon’s drive with four:39 remaining. The Ute offense managed to kill all however the final 15 seconds, earlier than Matt Homosexual kicked his sixth area objective of the sport.
The technique of transferring Johnson across the area, wherever Mitchell lined up, “paid off for us,” Utah coach Kyle Whittingham mentioned.
Utah sometimes positions its cornerbacks on the left and proper sides of the sector, whatever the opponent’s formation. Ute junior Julian Blackmon most likely does not deserve all the blame for Mitchell’s eight catches for 169 yards and two touchdowns. Mitchell made some outstanding catches, together with one which got here when he reached over Blackmon’s again and grabbed the ball alongside the sideline for a 17-yard play on third down, sustaining Oregon’s landing drive to start the third quarter.
But it is true that Oregon often positioned Mitchell on Blackmon’s aspect, and he did not catch a move after the center of the third quarter, when a area objective pulled the Geese to inside 19-17. That coincides with Utah’s transfer to have Johnson defend him.
Oregon punted on its subsequent three possessions, though the Geese took a 25-22 lead halfway by means of the fourth quarter after blocking a punt, resulting in Herbert’s Three-yard landing move to operating again Travis Dye.
After the Utah offense responded with a go-ahead landing, the Ute protection was in an analogous place to November 2016 in opposition to Oregon. That is when the Utes went forward within the final three minutes, solely to have Herbert reply with a drive that ended with a successful TD move to Darren Carrington II with two seconds left.
This time, Dye’s 18-yard run took the Geese to the 50-yard line. Ute defensive finish Maxs Tupai’s sack of Herbert for a 5-yard loss on second down was important. After a brief completion to Brenden Schooler, the Geese gambled on fourth and 5. Herbert appeared for Mitchell on the suitable aspect, however Johnson stepped in entrance and knocked away the move.
Johnson leads the Utes with three interceptions this season, together with one which he returned 100 yards for a landing in opposition to Stanford. His fourth-down breakup was pretty much as good as an interception, particularly below the circumstances.
Mitchell produced receiving numbers just like these of Arizona State’s N’Keal Harry final weekend within the Solar Devils’ victory over Utah. However due to Johnson, Mitchell didn’t fairly match Harry’s 9 receptions.