Though the Utes are coming off a two-win game streak, they have yet to win a game on the road this…
Unit Matchups - Utah at Washington
Having a solid outing last week against Washington State, Travis Wilson will face a much better secondary this week against the huskies. Wilson made very few mistakes last week against Washington State, and will need to do the exact same thing this week if the Utes want to have success moving the ball. Though Washington's secondary does a very good job defending against the pass, they have given up their share of big yardage completions. The receivers will need to be patient, and when the ball does get thrown to them they can't afford to have any dropped balls. The huskies corners will play Utah's receivers very close, and a poorly ran route by the receivers could very well end up being an interception.
Washington's defensive backfield is full of talent. Though only a freshman, Shaq Thompson has had an impressive season thus far. Thompson has more than lived up to the hype of being the #1 rated safety in the 2012 class. With his speed and athleticism giving opposing offenses trouble all season, Thompson has 51 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, and 2 interceptions on the season. Along with his athleticism, Thompson is a very intelligent player, and will make it tough on Utah all game long. Along with Thompson, Sean Parker is another player who is very talented. Despite cornerback Desmond Trufant's status being questionable (hamstring), this group will be gunning for the ball all game long and will give Travis Wilson and the Utah receivers a difficult time.
Utah Running Backs and Tight Ends vs Washington Linebackers
John White had another impressive outing last week rushing for over 100 yards and 2 touchdowns. With this performance, the Utes are now 11-0 when White rushes for 100+ yards. Reaching that magical number of 100 yards should not be a problem for White against this Washington defense. The huskies have the 94th ranked rushing defense in the nation, giving up an average of 192 yards per game. White's physical running style will be very fun to watch against Washington's aggressive play of their linebackers. Utah's tight ends have been a very consistent group for the Utes. Jake Murphy continues to lead the team in receptions and receiving yards with 29 and 304 respectively. With Washington playing plenty of attention on White throughout the game, the tight ends should have plenty of opportunities to make big plays for Utah's offense.
John Timu, Travis Feeney, Thomas Tutogi and Princeton Fuimaono are the main linebackers that will be chasing White around the field. Just like Washington's defensive backs, the linebackers also play very aggressive and are very physical. While White normally does a good job at protecting the ball, this will be very important against this defense. These linebackers have put some big hits on running backs this season. If White is careless with the ball at any point, these linebackers are more than capable of dislodging that ball and forcing fumbles.
Utah Offensive Line vs Washington Defensive Line
If Utah wants to get their first victory against Washington, currently 0-7 all-time against the huskies, the offensive line must have another good performance. Having an excellent game last week against Washington State, Utah's offensive line has played very well as of late. Whether it's been creating holes for the backs or providing Wilson with protection, this group has done a very good job. Establishing the run will once again be the number one goal, along with protecting the ball, for Utah's offense. Guards Vyncent Jones and Miles Mason and tackles Sam Brenner and Jeremiah Poutasi should be able to open up some big holes for White to run through. If the pass protection continues to be there, Utah's offensive line should have another good outing again this week.
Washington's defensive line has had troubles stopping the run as well as getting to the quarterback. The huskies are averaging less than 1.5 sacks per game with sophomore Andrew Hudson leading the way with 3.5. While giving up an average of nearly 200 yards on the ground, Washington's defensive line could struggle against a vastly improved Utah offensive line. Look for Utah to run early and often against this huskies defense.
Washington QBs and Receivers vs Utah Defensive Backs
Keith Price of 2012 has not been what we expected. Only 9 touchdowns with 10 interceptions is a big reason that the offense hasn't been as productive as it was in 2011. It's not all on Price though though as the offensive line has been decimated by injuries.
The Huskies top weapon outside is sophomore Kasen Williams. Williams is huge at 6'2, 216 pounds. Williams has 49 catches on the year for 547 yards and 4 touchdowns. He'll likely be matched up with Moe Lee in an attempt to get the biggest Utah corner on the physical specimen that Williams is.
Washington will start another sophomore in DiAndre Campbell and freshman Jaydon Mickens alongside Williams. Mickens is a speedster who has 16 catches on the year, but is averaging only 7 yards per catch, while Campbell has good size, but only 9 grabs in 2012.
The return of Ryan Lacy will boost the Utah secondary. They didn't need him last week against Washington State, but on the road against a QB of Price's quality. The corners have been great in the two recent wins, with Reggie Topps playing extremely well.
Brian Blechen has been plaing sound football the last couple of games, not trying to do too much, which is allowing him to do exactly what he needs to do. The big plays haven't been there this year, but the improvement in recent weeks is an encouraging sign.
Washington Running Backs and Tight Ends vs Utah Linebackers
Bishop Sankey has been a pleasant surprise for Washington in their first year, post Chris Polk. The sophomore is pushing 1,000 yards on the season with 11 touchdowns, and has caught 19 balls as well. Despite an offensive line than has underperformed, Sankey has been racking up yards week after week.
The biggest weapon on the Husky offense is tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins. He's hauled in 48 passes on the year and is a matchup nightmare at 6-6, 266 pounds. Utah's ability to defend the big man is possibly the most vital aspect of the game. Trevor Reilly will get the assignment of holding Seferian-Jenkins in check. He was fairly successful in slowing another big tight end when the Utes took on UCLA and Joe Fauria.
The rest of the linebacking crew has been improving over the past couple of weeks, finally looking like the fundamentally sound and deep group we've expected. Jason Whittingham has been arguably the most consistent linebacker since the start of Pac 12 play, while VJ Fehoko is finally looking like the player we expected him to be.
Washington Offensive Line vs Utah Defensive Line
This one is easy. The Utah O-line is pretty bad. There is talent, but their starting lineup consists of a senior, 3 sophomores and a freshman, mostly because injuries have forced them into action.
They're going to have issues going against a Utah defensive line that is one of the best in the country, and has been incredible the last 4 weeks. They're finally getting pressure, especially from Joe Kruger and Trevor Reilly. Reilly might be taken out of the pass rush by the need for him to line up on Seferian-Jenkins for much of the game, meaning Joe Kruger and Nate Fakahafua will need to generate pressure.
Star is going to do what Star does; take on double teams and triple teams. If Dave Kruger can be disruptive against the inexperienced Washington offensive line, Utah will be able to get pressure on Price and force errant throws.
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