Utah football: 3 takeaways from nail-biting win over Baylor

Sep 9, 2023; Waco, Texas, USA; Utah Utes quarterback Nate Johnson (13) carries the ball against the Baylor Bears during the first half at McLane Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Raymond Carlin III-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 9, 2023; Waco, Texas, USA; Utah Utes quarterback Nate Johnson (13) carries the ball against the Baylor Bears during the first half at McLane Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Raymond Carlin III-USA TODAY Sports /
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Sep 9, 2023; Waco, Texas, USA; Baylor Bears running back Dominic Richardson (21) runs away from the Utah Utes defense during the first half at McLane Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Raymond Carlin III-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 9, 2023; Waco, Texas, USA; Baylor Bears running back Dominic Richardson (21) runs away from the Utah Utes defense during the first half at McLane Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Raymond Carlin III-USA TODAY Sports /

2. Defense is not a problem

A close win over a team that just lost to Texas State can be mildly concerning, but all that concern falls on the aforementioned passing game. Defensively, Utah was tremendous against Baylor on Saturday.

Utah held the Bears to just 3-of-11 on third down in this game. They intercepted Sawyer Robertson twice. The longest run for Baylor all day was 16 yards. They shut down the Baylor passing and running games.

It was the kind of game in which, frankly, there’s not a lot of nuance. You can throw out any Utah defensive stat you want, and it’s most likely going to display the Utes’ dominance on that side of the ball.

As Utah prepares to enter the Pac-12 slate, there’s one thing you’d like to see more of in Salt Lake: pressure on the passer. The one hole on Saturday was a goose egg in the sack category, and against Caleb Williams, Michael Penix Jr., and Sheduer Sanders, this team will have to get far more pressure on the quarterback. Without that, those guys will find open receivers.

Through two games, however, this defense has looked extremely strong. It’s a trademark of Kyle Whittingham’s teams, and it’s once again on full display in 2023.