I am not a Utah Ute fan and, in fact, this season I have only watched one other Utah football game before tonight. So keep in mind that the theory of this column is based solely on my observations of tonight’s game.
Utah quarterback Brian Johnson was horrific. In the first half, he completed only 5 of 11 passes for 80 yards. One of his 6 incompletions went straight to Al Afalava who returned it 26 yards for a Beaver touchdown. Yeah, he threw a touchdown, but Freddie Brown was so wide open he wasn’t even moving. Seriously—he was just standing there when he caught the ball. My sister could have thrown that pass.
The second half was even worse. Again, he completed 5 of 11 passes but only for 30 yards this time. And he turned the ball over in Beaver territory once again, which led to another Oregon State touchdown. Pathetic. I was rooting for the home team but quickly losing hope. The team looked ok, but the quarterback was inaccurate, hesitant to throw to open receivers, and unable to hold on to the football. No way could this guy lead his team back from eight down, late in the fourth quarter.
And he didn’t. With 2:11 remaining in the game and Utah down 28-20, Brian Johnson was abducted by aliens and replaced by a quarterback who was decisive, accurate and clutch. I see no other explanation. This guy completed four straight passes for 60 yards and a touchdown that brought the Utes to within two points. He (or perhaps it) followed that up by running for the two-point conversion that tied the game. After an Oregon State punt, the Utes got the ball back and this Brian Johnson look-alike completed 3 of 4 passes for 32 yards to put the offense within Louie Sakoda’s field goal range.
After the game, Sakoda was hailed as the game’s hero for kicking the winning field goal. Number 3 was nowhere to be found. I find it curious that whoever or whatever was wearing number 3 for the last 2:11 of the game made sure to avoid the cameras and any interview requests. This mysterious clutch quarterback has vanished for the time being. For Utah’s sake, let’s hope he reappears when need next arises.