Las Vegas Bowl grades: Utah capitalizes on turnovers for a victory
Here are the top takeaways and highest-graded players from the Utes’ 35-28 victory over in-state rival BYU, in the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl:
— Defensive end Jason Fanaika forced one interception by batting a pass into the air which was returned for a touchdown. He forced a second interception by hitting BYU quarterback Tanner Mangum’s arm during his throwing motion causing the ball to sail. Fanaika’s overall grade of -0.8 was lowered by penalties but a sack, a hit, two hurries and one batted pass gave him a +1.5 pass rush rating and changed the game early.
— Safety Tevin Carter capitalized on two passes that were deflected into air in his vicinity. He intercepted both and returned the first one for a touchdown. He backed that up by only allowing one catch on the three times he was targeted. He also added a quarterback hurry and earned a very impressive +4.4 final grade.
— While the Utah offense did manage to capitalize on the opportunities provided by the early turnovers, they failed to do much else for the rest of the game. Quarterback Travis Wilson completed 10-of-18 passes with zero touchdowns and zero interceptions. Wilson made some timely plays with his legs to get a +1.4 run rating to help boost his game grade to +2.0 overall, and scoring Utah’s final touchdown of the game with a nice 20-yard scamper.
Stevie Tu’ikolovatu +5.9
Tevin Carter +4.4
Kylie Fitts +3.6
Reginald Porter +2.6
Travis Wilson +2.0
— Defensive end Bronson Kaufusi was the Cougars’ highest-graded player for the game. He had had two QB hits, four hurries and a batted pass on his 22 pass rushes earning a +3.5 pass rush grade. Kaufusi was also stellar as a run defender posting 7 stops and earning a +3.2 run defense grade. Kaufusi has been one of the more well-rounded defensive edge players in the country all season with a +39.9 overall grade, including a +11.4 run defense rating and a +27.4 pass rush rating. He will be a name to watch as the NFL draft approaches.
— Defensive end Tomasi Laulile earned a +1.9 for the game. He had two sacks, a QB hit and four hurries in his 20 pass rushes to earn a +1.2 pass rush grade. He also turned in 4 stops in the run game to earn a +0.6 run defense grade in limited snaps.
— QB Tanner Mangum (-0.5) had a terrible start to the game by throwing three first-quarter interceptions and losing a fumble. However, the interceptions aren’t solely to be blamed on Mangum. The first one popped up into the air on a contested pass but was within his wide receiver’s frame. The second interception came from a pass batted into the air at the line of scrimmage from Jason Fanaika. The third interception came when Fanaika hit his arm during his throwing motion. Mangum responded well to that initial turnover avalanche by completing 26 of 59 passes for 371 yards and 3 touchdowns as BYU pulled back into the game.
Bronson Kaufusi +6.9
Brad Wilcox +2.3
Kai Nacua +2.2
Algernon Brown +2.0
Tomasi Laulile + 1.9