SAN JOSE, Calif. — Until Utah’s young offense finds its footing, the Utes defense feels ready to shoulder the load.
The Utes sacked San Jose State’s quarterbacks 10 times and scored 17 points off three turnovers on the way to a 34-17 victory Saturday night.
“It’s contagious,” said defensive end Hunter Dimick. “As an identity, we’re still trying to build that. This was a step in the right direction.”
Eight different Utah players collected sacks, with Dimick and Filipo Mokofisi each notching a pair.
Utah (3-0) trailed twice early but kept the defensive pressure on Spartans (1-2) quarterback Kenny Potter, who took five sacks in the first half.
“We thought going into the season we were going to be pretty good up front,” Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said. “I’m very encouraged. They came through tonight. They performed.”
The 10 sacks equaled the second-most in Utah history.
The Utes led 13-10 when Reggie Porter’s interception late in the first half set up a 74-yard scoring drive. First-year quarterback Troy Williams hit Tim Patrick with a 54-yard completion to the 9, and then connected with Patrick with a 4-yard TD pass with 15 seconds left in the half.
Williams, who completed 20 of 28 passes for 257 yards, said the Utes never panicked after their slow offensive start. “We didn’t get down,” he said. “Our confidence stayed high.”
The Utes knocked Potter out of the game late in the third quarter when he escaped being sacked for the eighth time, scrambling for a 5-yard gain before being sandwiched hard by two defenders. Freshman Josh Love took over and was sacked three times before throwing a 46-yard TD pass to Zamore Zigler.
Utah: The Utes won their first road test of the season, and now begin Pac-12 play with a stretch of three road games in their first five. The first two are at Cal on Oct. 1 and at Oregon State on Oct. 15 before a potential Pac-12 South showdown at UCLA on Oct. 22.
San Jose State: The Spartans dropped their 21st consecutive game to a team currently playing in a Power Five conference. They have not beaten an opponent from one of the nation’s top five leagues since a 35-34 victory over Stanford on Sept. 9, 2006 at Spartan Stadium.
Utah: The Utes open Pac-12 play at home Friday night against a USC team that fell to 1-2 after a 27-10 loss at Stanford. Utah should be motivated following a 42-24 loss at USC last season that spoiled a 6-0 start and No. 3 ranking in the Top 25. “We’re ready,” Williams said.
San Jose State: The Spartans take on their second straight Power Five opponent, traveling to Iowa State next Saturday. The game will be SJSU’s first vs. a Big Ten foe since losing 24-7 at Minnesota in 2014.
Utah: Tied for 26th in the AP voting a week ago, the Utes could creep into the Top 25 after keeping its unbeaten record intact.
Utah: Four days after senior running back Joe Williams retired from football, the Utes got strong performances from three backs: Zack Moss rushed 12 times 95 yards, Troy McCormick had seven carries for 61 yards and Armand Shyne had 92 yards on 12 second-half carries. All three scored touchdowns. . Utah’s school record for sacks in a game is 13, set against Portland State in 1981.
San Jose State: One week after piling up 642 yards in a 66-35 rout of FCS foe Portland State the Spartans were limited to 173 yards through the first three quarters. Potter, who accounted for five touchdowns in that win, was 10 for 18 for just 65 yards passing before being knocked out of the game. Love, in his first college appearance, was 11 of 21 for 184 yards with one interception.
Potter had his right knee examined after the game and said it showed no damage. “Kenny should be OK going forward,” Spartans coach Ron Caragher confirmed.