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Originally published November 11, 2012 at 12:11 AM | Page modified November 11, 2012 at 12:15 AM

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Utah's passing game manages just 55 yards

After his fifth start, Utah freshman quarterback Travis Wilson stood in a tunnel beneath CenturyLink Field and apologized for his worst...

Seattle Times staff reporter

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After his fifth start, Utah freshman quarterback Travis Wilson stood in a tunnel beneath CenturyLink Field and apologized for his worst performance of the season.

"It was definitely my fault," he said after completing just 8 of 23 passes for 55 yards in Washington's 34-15 victory on Saturday night. "I should have made more throws."

Adding to Wilson's troubles, he was sacked four times and intercepted once.

Minutes after Wilson's admission, Utes coach Kyle Whittingham said the burden of defeat needed to be shared.

"We didn't give him much help catching the football," Whittingham said. "We had seven drops, so the numbers weren't as bad for him personally as they appear to be because of the dropped balls."

Whatever the case, Utah received little production from a passing game that had been improving since Wilson replaced senior Jon Hays on Oct. 13. The Utes lost their first two games with Wilson as the starter, but in the past two weeks they scored 49 points in wins over California and Washington State.

"The running game was pretty good," Whittingham said. "The (passing) game stunk. We got to have more balance. In this day and age — it's not 1940 — 188 yards or whatever we got is not good enough. You got to have 400-500 yards each week."

Husky defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox devised a scheme that forced Utah to throw underneath passes and took away deep routes. Wilson connected with just four receivers, and no one had a gain longer than 18 yards.

"We were trying to do a lot of quick throws," Wilson said. "That was part of our game plan. I wish we could have went down and maybe attacked them a little more with the deeper stuff. We just got to make more plays."

Utah relied heavily on senior running back John White, who carried the offense for 142 yards on 22 attempts. He provided the Utes their only scores, a 46-yard scamper late in the first quarter and 20-yard run in the third.

Utah took advantage of a banged-up Washington defensive front, and White had several running lanes.

"The run was there," White said. "Guys weren't getting open or we weren't hitting the right guys efficiently. But the run was there."

White's last score cut Utah's deficit to six, but the game quickly spiraled away way from the Utes, who had to punt six times.

"The play of the game, the biggest turning point in the entire game was we're down 21-15, we get a stop and we mishandled the punt and get a turnover," Whittingham said. "We never recovered from that. Instead of having all the momentum with the ball, they capitalize on it and we couldn't recover."

Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or pallen@seattletimes.com


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