Blechen, White lead Utah over Montana State, 27-10

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A stadium usher elicited the loudest crowd reaction Thursday night when he took away a beach ball being bounced around by Utah fans.If the Utes don’t find more consistency on offense, USC and every other opponent could spoil Utah’s inaugural Pac-12 Conference party.”If we play like this, we won’t win a game in the Pac-12,” Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said following a 27-10 season-opening victory over Montana State.”We did not play crisp and we didn’t play with the correct tempo. … We’re not going to be able to just push guys around next week like we did tonight.”Utah cruised to a 24-0 lead over its Big Sky opponent, but hardly looked like a team ready to compete in one of the toughest conferences in the nation.The Utes committed seven penalties and converted only 4 of 13 third-down plays.Quarterback Jordan Wynn, making his first start since December shoulder surgery that kept him out of the Las Vegas Bowl, passed for just 101 yards.”It was a difficult first game,” new offensive coordinator Norm Chow said. “We made mistakes and didn’t sustain much. We can’t afford fumbled snaps. We can’t afford to (false start) when it’s third-and-1. We just can’t do that.”Wynn managed the new pro-style offense under Chow, completing 15 of 23 passes, with two TDs and no interceptions, but he was far from spectacular.”I have to play better,” Wynn said. “I can’t miss wide-open throws. … They were giving me a lot of different looks and we were able to do some things but this definitely was not our best showing.”The bright spot on offense instead came from one of the smallest players on the field, Utah running back John White, at 5-feet-8, 186 pounds.The junior-college transfer rushed for 150 yards with two touchdowns in his major-college debut.He scored his first career touchdown on a 5-yard first-quarter pass from Wynn, and averaged 7.9 yards a carry thanks to runs of 25, 24 and 16 yards.”I’m so happy right now. I feel good,” said White, who won the job in camp. “I’ve been waiting a long time for this moment. We’ll improve. That was just a taste of what’s to come.”The Utes were without starting left tackle John Cullen, who did not play because of a concussion but is expected back next week. They also lost left guard Vyncent Jones for a while in the first half.Chow wouldn’t use that as an excuse.”We gotta get better,” he said.Utah’s defense, and its revamped secondary, held up much better against a player who may be the best quarterback in the FCS.At halftime, DeNarius McGhee was just 7 of 14 for 81 yards, 39 coming on a shovel pass he nearly didn’t get off against Utah’s pressure defense.McGhee finished 16 of 29 for 183 yards, but was sacked twice and threw two interceptions.”That is one of the best (FCS) quarterbacks and he didn’t really hurt us, so I thought our secondary did pretty well,” Whittingham said.Linebacker Brian Blechen, whose overtime interception helped Utah upset 15th-ranked Pitt in last year’s season-opener, was the defensive standout.He added about 10 pounds to make the transition from safety to linebacker this year. Though he still showed plenty of quickness, covering slot receivers at times, he came up short of the end zone on his first interception.Still, it set up Wynn’s first TD pass, a 7-yarder to DeVonte Christopher.His second interception came in the fourth quarter with the Bobcats driving again.”We made too many mistakes early, gave them a short field,” Montana State coach Rob Ash said.”I mean, just a nightmare. But after that our guys bounced back and played tough. I was proud of the way we kept coming back.”For Utah, another bright spot was the play of special teams.Matt Martinez set up Wynn’s second TD pass, the 5-yarder to White, with his second career blocked punt.And Coleman Petersen, who won the kicking job over Nick Marsh, didn’t disappoint. He made a 37-yard field goal in the first quarter and a 44-yarder in the third, and all three extra points.While Thursday’s game answered some questions, plenty remain for Utah, and the road gets wicked.While the Bobcats return home for a game against UC Davis, the Utes open Pac-12 play at USC next weekend before traveling to Provo for a game against archrival BYU.”We’re all happy that we won but we still realize we have a lot of work to do,” Chow said.He should know. Chow spent seven years coaching in the old Pac-10.

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