A few weeks after Brant Kuithe suffered a season-ending injury, Utah turned to their other star tight end, Dalton Kincaid, to try to make up for the loss.
“He is an absolute athlete. He has to be, without a doubt, one of the best tight ends in the country.” — Utah Coach Kyle Whittingham on Dalton Kincaid
And Kincaid capitalized on the opportunity with a remarkable performance.
In the Utes’ memorable 43-42 win over USC on October 15, he torched the Trojans and caught 16 passes for a career-high 234 yards and a touchdown.
Kincaid was targeted 16 times and caught every ball thrown in his path.
He finished a reception behind the single-game FBS record for a close finish. New Mexico’s Emilio Vallez had 17 catches against UTEP in 1967 and Northwestern’s Jon Harvey had 17 catches against Michigan in 1982.
“He’s an absolute athlete,” coach Kyle Whittingham said of Kincaid after the game. “He has to be, without a doubt, one of the best tight ends in the country.”
Kincaid has been a valuable weapon on Utah’s offense all season. He is the Utes’ leading receiver, having caught 66 passes for 843 yards and eight touchdowns. He’s averaging 12.9 yards per reception.
However, he has injured himself twice while scoring touchdowns. The first time was at Washington State, and he missed the following week’s game against Arizona.
Then Kincaid was injured in Colorado last week when he pulled off an acrobatic touchdown grab in the first half. He didn’t come back.
What’s the status of Kincaid as Utah prepares to face USC in Friday’s Pac-12 championship game in Las Vegas?
“We expect him to play,” Whittngham said. “It’s not a guarantee, but we’ll see what happens.”
The Utes anticipate the Trojans will adjust defensively this time around and focus on containing Kincaid.
“You would think so,” Whittingham said. “If I were them and saw what he did and what he did the last time we played I’m sure they will have some kind of tactic to slow him down a bit.”
Whittingham said “it’s crazy” that Kincaid isn’t a finalist for the Mackey Award, symbolic of the nation’s top tight end, or the Biletnikoff Award, for that matter.
Why was Kincaid so productive against USC in October?
“I don’t want to make it sound like he wasn’t good to begin with. But we’ve been introducing him more and more and he’s been doing more and more plays,” Whittingham said. “You saw the catch he made that he came across in the Colorado game. That was spectacular. It’s just about continuing to max out your skills and understanding how incredible those skills are. … He’s a great talent. He’s a guy we have to target a few times a week.”
Pac-12 Championship Game
No. 14 Utah (9-3, 8-2)
vs. No. 6 USC (11-1, 8-1)
Friday 6pm MST
Radio: ESPN 700