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Utes Rank Among FBS Leaders and Set Historical Milestones in 2020

Dec 22, 2020

2020 UTAH FOOTBALL NOTES AND STATISTICAL ACCOMPLISHMENTS
*Statistical rankings updated after bowl games and the CFP

  • Utah had 12 players receive Pac-12 recognition when the all-conference and player of the year honors were announced by the league on Dec. 22.
     
  • Utah's Dec. 19 season-ending comeback win over Washington State was Kyle Whittingham's 200th game as head coach at Utah (2005-present). He has a career record of 134-66 (.670). Including his 11 seasons as a Utah assistant coach (1994-2004), Whittingham has coached in 326 games at the school and been part of more Utah football victories (219) than anybody in program history. He ranks 16th among active FBS coaches in win.
    • The game also served as Utah's 100th victory at Rice-Eccles Stadium, which opened in 1998.
    • With the win, Utah also extended its streak to seven years with a winning record and bowl eligibility. Utah finished 3-2, including a 2-1 record at home.
       
  • With Utah's 38-21 win at AP 21st-ranked Colorado on Dec. 12, Utah has beaten a ranked opponent on the road in four of the past 7 seasons. Prior to 2014 it had not been done by a Utah team since 1999.
    • 2020–at No. 21 Colorado (38-21)
    • 2018–at No. 14 Stanford (40-21)
    • 2015–at No. 13 Oregon (62-20)
    • 2014–at No. 8 UCLA (30-28)
       
  • Utah's traditionally strong rushing defense was on display again in 2020.
    • The Utes led the Pac-12 and ranked 11th in the FBS, allowing just 107.8 rushing yards per game.
    • Utah's average of just 3.8 yards per carry allowed ranked 2nd in the Pac-12.
    • This comes one year after Utah ranked 3rd in the FBS in 2019, allowing just 81.8 yards per game and 3.0 per carry with a defense that ranked among best statistically in Pac-12 history—and lost nine of the 11 starters, all of whom landed on NFL teams in 2020.
    • Utah led the Pac-12 in rushing defense for the fourth time in Morgan Scalley's five seasons as defensive coordinator (2016, '18, '19 & '20), and for the third year in a row the Utes ranked in the top 13 in the nation in rushing defense (5th in 2018, 3rd in '19 & 13th in '20).
    • The 2020 Utah defense ranked second overall in the Pac-12, allowing 365.0 yards per game, and did not allow an opponent more than 396 total yards in a game.
       
  • The defense plucked seven interceptions in the season's five games, second most per game (1.4) in the Pac-12 behind USC (1.5) and 8th in the FBS, and extended Utah's streak of having at least one interception return for a touchdown in a season to 17 years (2004-20).
    • Five different Utah players intercepted a pass in 2020, led by safety Vonte Davis and LB Nephi Sewell with two apiece. CBs Clark Phillips III and Faybian Marks, and safety Zemaiah Vaughn, each had one.
    • Phillips III had Utah's one pick-six of the season, coming in the final three minutes of the season finale. His 36-yard return of his interception for a touchdown gave Utah a pick-6 for the 17th consecutive season. The streak began in 2004, the senior year of current defensive coordinator Morgan Scalley's career as a safety. Scalley earned co-Defensive Player of the Year in the Mountain West Conference with six interceptions, though he did not have one of Utah's two pick-6s that season.
    • Davis had an interception in back-to-back games (at UW and vs. OSU), the first two of his career. The last time a Ute had a pick in back-to-back games was in 2019 when Julian Blackmon did it Nov. 2 (at UW) & Nov. 16 (vs. UCLA) with a bye week in between.
    • Sewell tied with Davis for the team lead with two, adding his second at Colorado (12/12). His first came in the opener vs. USC (11/21).
    • Utah intercepted three Washington passes in game 2 (11/28), including two by true freshmen: CB Faybian Marks and S Zemaiah Vaughn. The last time Utah intercepted three passes in a game was Nov. 22, 2017 at Arizona
    • The Utes had a combined 119 interception return yards at UW, the most since Utah had two interceptions for 127 return yards against San Diego State on Nov. 1, 2008.
       
  • Utah also finished in the top one-fourth of the FBS in three other defensive categories:
    • Led the Pac-12 and ranked 12th in the FBS in time of possession, averaging 33:20 per game.
    • Ranked 2nd in the Pac-12 and 20th in the FBS in third-down defense, surrendering just 34.3%
    • Led the Pac-12 and ranked 22nd in the FBS in opponent first downs per game, allowing just 18.2.
       
  • Offensively, Utah averaged 5.1 yards per rush—3rd in the Pac-12 and 24th FBS—and allowed just 1.4 sacks per game—3rd  Pac-12 and T-22nd FBS.
     
  • Utah's offense produced a season-high 528  total yards (223 rushing, 305 passing) in the season finale against Washington State. It marked the sixth time Utah has exceeded 500 total yards in offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig's two seasons (19 games) since returning to lead Utah's offense.
     
  • The Utes ranked eighth in the FBS (3rd Pac-12) in punt return average (16.33) and eighth in kickoff returns (23.3; 2nd Pac-12).
     
  • Junior LB Devin Lloydone of 5 finalists for the Butkus Award and second-team All-America by Sporting News—led Utah in tackles with 48 (33 solo)—nearly 10 per game—including 10 tackles for loss (-39) and 2.0 sacks (-23). He made a career-high 11 tackles in each of the first two games and finished the season with 10 vs. Washington State.
    • Lloyd's 2.0 TFL/game tied for 2nd among all FBS players (T-2nd Pac-12). He had four in the season finale vs. Washington State, tied for 8th-most in a game by a Utah player and the most since 2016.
    • His 6.6 solo tackles per game ranked 8th among all FBS players.
    • Lloyd's 9.6 total tackles per game ranked 5th overall in the Pac-12 and tied for 33rd in the FBS
    • He entered the season with a career high of 10 tackles (vs. Northern Illinois in 2019) and matched or exceeded it in three of the five games in 2020.
    • Lloyd has four career double-digit games and has either led or tied for the lead in total tackles for the Utes in eight career games.
       
  • True Freshman RB Ty Jordan — the Pac-12 Freshman Offensive Player of the Year and the AP Pac-12 Newcomer of the Year — led Utah in rushing (597 yds., 119.4 per game), all-purpose yards (723, 144.6/game) and touchdowns scored (6, all rushing). He added 11 receptions (third-most on the team) for 126 yards (11.5) and was Freshman All-America by Sporting News.
    • 119.4 rushing yards per game – No. 1 among all freshmen in FBS and 9th among all FBS players (3rd in Pac-12). The next closest freshman averaged 91.3 per game, 28.1 behind Jordan.
    • 7.19 yards per carry ranked 2nd in the Pac-12 & 10th in the FBS.
    • 144.6 all-purpose yards per game – No. 1 among all FBS freshmen; 6th among all Pac-12 players & 20th in FBS.
    • Jordan finished his true freshman season with three consecutive 100-yard rushing games – 167, 147 and 154 yards – for a three-game total of 468 yards (156.0 per game), most by a Utah freshman and most by any Utah player in a three-game span since Zack Moss in 2018 (479; 140-211-128 vs. USC and at UCLA and Arizona State, in order).
    • He was the first Utah true freshman to rush for 100+ yards in three consecutive games since Chris Fuamatu-Ma'afala in 1995.
    • Jordan's 167 rushing yards against Oregon State (12/5) were the most by a Ute since Zack Moss put up 203 against Arizona in 2019 (11/23; 26 carries, 1 TD) and the most by a Utah true freshman since Fuamatu-Ma'afala had 180 against Utah State in 1995.
    • Prior to this year, the last time a Utah true freshman had rushed for 100 yards or more in a game was Nov. 18, 1995 when Fuamatu-Ma'afala rushed for 108 yards against BYU (24 carries, 4.5 ypc, 2 TDs), the last of his four 100-yard outings that year, and third in a row.
    • Jordan rushed for three touchdowns in the season finale vs. Oregon State—the most by a Ute in a single game since 2018 (Zack Moss, at UCLA)—to give him six rushing TDs in a three-game span to end the season. His rushing TDs covered 66 yards, 33, 18, 13, 5 and 1.
    • He was named Pac-12 Freshman Offensive Player of the Week for each of the final three weeks of the season.
       
  • Junior TE Brant Kuithe led all Pac-12 tight ends and ranked fourth among FBS tight ends in receptions per game (5.0). He caught a career-high 8 passes for 76 yards in the win over Oregon State (12/5). His 25 receptions for 236 yards (9.4) led the Utes in both categories.
     
  • Junior WR/Returner Britain Covey was highly productive in the Utes' final three games of the season on both offense and special teams, and played a significant role in Utah's three-game winning streak.
    • Covey recorded career bests for receptions (9 at Colorado, 12/12) and receiving yards (134 vs. Wash. St., 12/19) in back-to-back weeks to end the season.
    • His career-high 134 rec. yards (6 rec., 22.3 ypc) included a 91-yard touchdown reception—2nd longest in Utah history—and were the most by a Utah player since 2017 (Darren Carrington, 9-153, vs. San Jose State) and the most against a Pac-12 opponent since 2014 (Kaelin Clay, vs. Oregon, 5-152, Nov. 8).
    • It was Covey's first 100-yard receiving game since Sept. 8, 2018 (129 yards at NIU) and the third of his career.
    • One week after scoring on both a reception and a punt return in the win over Oregon State, Covey caught a career-high nine passes for 76 yards and a touchdown in the win at Colorado (12/12). He added 44 yards on 3 punt returns and 88 yards on three kickoff returns. He opened the game with a 40-yard kickoff return that set up the Utes for their first opening-drive touchdown of the season (first since 11/23/19 at Arizona).
    • In the Oregon State game (12/5) Covey became the first Ute to score touchdowns on both a reception and a punt return in the same game since 2010 (Shaky Smithson, 9/11/10 vs. UNLV; W 38-10).
    • Covey finished the season with 132 career receptions, just 2 away from entering the school's all-time top 10. Dres Anderson (2011-14) sits in 10th with 134 catches. He has 1,497 career receiving yards, 310 yards from entering the top 10 (10th: 1,807—Henry Lusk; 1991-95).
       
  • Junior LB Nephi Sewell was a big-play force for the Utes in his first year at linebacker after making the transition from safety.
    • Sewell led the team in takeaways (4), with two interceptions and two fumble recoveries. He also had a forced fumble.
    • He finished second on the team in tackles with 40 (27 solo) and tackles for loss (6-12).
    • Sewell's first INT came in the opener vs. USC (11/21), a game in which he returned a fumble 23 yards for a touchdown, and his second INT came at Colorado (12/12).
    • His average of 0.4 fumble recoveries per game (2 in 5 games) tied for 9th among FBS players and ranked 5th in the Pac-12.
       
  • Sophomore kicker Jadon Redding made all 8 of this field goal attempts and was 17-17 on PATs to account for a team-high 41 points on the year
    • Redding will enter the 2021 season with a streak of 12 consecutive field goals made, tied for the third longest active streak among FBS kickers. He made his final four field goals of 2019, beginning with a 31-yard attempt at Washington on Nov. 2, 2019. His last miss was on a 32-yard attempt vs. California on Oct. 26, 2019.
    • He earned Pac-12 Special Teams Player of the Week two weeks in a row, following wins over Oregon State (12/5) and Colorado (12/12).
       
  • The 21-point deficit Utah overcame in the second half of its season-ending 45-28 win over Washington State was the third largest in school history. Utah twice overcame 27-point deficits, in 1972 and 1990. (Nov. 10, 1990 at New Mexico, trailed 27-0, won 29-27 … Nov. 24, 1972 vs. Arizona, trailed 27-0, won 28-27)
    • Utah trailed 28-7 at halftime after WSU scored two touchdowns in a 30-second span later in the quarter (at 1:51 and 1:21). After opening the second half with a punt on its first possession, Utah scored 38 unanswered points to secure the 45-28 victory.
    • The Utes' comeback included five touchdowns and one field goal over a span of seven possessions (TD, TD, TD, Punt, TD, FG, TD).
    • The first three touchdowns came on drives of 81, 68 and 70 yards; the final three scores followed WSU turnovers (Fumble, Fumble, INT).
    • Utah allowed WSU just 39 total yards of offense in the second half until WSU's final possession, and that figure climbed only to 108 second-half yards allowed, with the drive ending in another fumble.
       
  • Utah was just the fifth Pac-12 team since 2014 to come back from a halftime deficit of 21 or more points and win a game. Coincidentally, Utah was on the receiving end of one of those, Nov. 28 at Washington, losing 24-21 after leading 21-0 at the break. The other three occasions came in 2018 (Oregon State), 2017 (UCLA) and 2014 (Arizona).
    The last college football team to overcome a 21-point deficit (for a win) and lose a 21-point lead (for a loss) in the same season was Boise State in 2017. The Broncos blew a 21-point lead against Washington State on September 9, 2017, and then overcame a 25-point deficit against Colorado State on November 11, 2017.
     
  • Utah's 38 second-half points in the win over Washington State were the most scored by a Utah team in the second half in school history, dating back to at least 1968 when records can be verified. The previous record was 37 points in a 1999 game against Wyoming.
    • That total included 24 in the fourth quarter, the second most by a Utah team in the fourth quarter in school history (verified since 1968). The record is 28 against Florida in 1977.
       
  • In 2020, Utah saw 14 players on offense and defense make their first FBS start: QB Cameron Rising, So.; RB Jordan Wilmore, So.; RB Ty Jordan, Fr.; TE Dalton Kincaid, Jr.; OL Keaton Bills, R-Fr.; OL Jaren Kump, Fr.; OL Sataoa Laumea, R-Fr.; DE Blake Kuithe, So.; DT Tennessee Pututau, Fr.; LB Sione Fotu, Fr.; CB JaTravis Broughton, So.; CB Malone Mataele, So.; CB Clark Phillips III, Fr.; S Nate Ritchie, Fr.
     
  • 25 of the 68 Utes who played in 2020 (37%) made their first FBS game appearance, including 15 (22%) true freshmen. The full list of 23: QB Cameron Rising, So.; RB Ty Jordan, Fr.; RB Charlie Vincent, RS-Fr.; WR Kyrese Rowan, RS-Fr.; WR Dylan Slavens, Jr.; OL Jaren Kump, Fr.; OL Sataoa Laumea, R-Fr.; TE Dalton Kincaid, Jr.; DE Blake Kuithe, So.; DE Xavier Carlton, Fr.; DE Van Fillinger, Fr.; DT Tennessee Pututau, Fr.; LB Moroni Anae, Jr.; LB Sione Fotu, Fr.; LB Jeremy Mercier, Jr.; CB Faybian Marks, Fr.; CB Clark Phillips III, Fr.; CB Caine Savage, Fr.; S Jake Biggs, Fr.; S Kamo'i Latu, Fr.; S Ben Renfro, Fr.; S Nate Ritchie, Fr.; S Zemaiah Vaughn, Fr.; P Jared March, RS-Fr.; K Jordan Noyes, Fr.; and four more (QB Jake Bentley, Sr.; DL Devin Kaufusi, Jr.; TE Joe Ludwig, Jr.; K Skyler Southam, Jr.) made their first appearance with Utah.
     
  • Freshmen (RS or true) and sophomores accounted for 41 of the 68 Utah players who participated this season (60%)
      Italics indicates player made a start
  • Sophomores (16): CB JaTravis Broughton, OL Braeden Daniels, LB Hayden Furey, WR Cameron Gardner, DE Blake Kuithe, P Ben Lennon, CB Aaron Lowe, OL Paul Maile, LB Andrew Mata'afa, CB Malone Mataele, OL Simi Moala, P Jadon Redding, QB Cameron Rising, WR Dominique Thompson, RB Jordan Wilmore, TE Thomas Yassmin.
  • Redshirt-Freshmen (10): RB Micah Bernard, RB Charlie Vincent, OL Keaton Bills, OL Luke Felix-Fualalo, OL Sataoa Laumea, P Jared March, WR Kyrese Rowan, WR Devaughn Vele, CB Drew Rawls, DL Miki Suguturaga.
  • Freshmen (15): S Jake Biggs, DE Xavier Carlton, DE Van Fillinger, LB Sione Fotu, RB Ty Jordan, OL Jaren Kump, S Kamo'i Latu, CB Faybian Marks, K Jordan Noyes, CB Clark Phillips III, DT Tennessee Pututau, S Ben Renfro, S Nate Ritchie, CB Caine Savage, S Zemaiah Vaughn.