Know Your Foe: Utah

WildcatAuthority.com asks InsidetheUtes.com publisher Brian Swinney questions about Utah and what Arizona can expect to see this weekend.

1. How much faith does Whittingham have in his quarterback? Should Arizona expect a ton of running?

He says he has faith in Jon Hays, but the play calling and recent game plans suggest otherwise. Hays is probably the least talented starting quarterback in the conference right now and is being asked to manage the game, make no mistakes, and make good decisions.

If he throws for over 150 yards again this season, it will be a surprise. Running back John White is going to run, run, and run some more. He'll push for 30 carries again this week. If Arizona stacks the box like Cal did a couple of week ago, it can keep him contained.

2. What makes Utah's defense so strong?

They're really a cohesive unit that works well together, but it all starts up front. There are rarely breakdowns from the defensive line as the tackles hold their ground and stay in their gaps and the ends are particularly strong in run support. Because they have such a big advantage up front, it makes it easier for the linebackers and safeties to make plays, especially in the running game.

3. How has Utah adjusted to the Pac-12 in terms of recruiting?

There has been a bump in recruiting and they've picked up players that would not have come to Utah had they still been in the Mountain West. The elite players still aren't coming yet though, which has disappointed some fans who thought they'd jump in and compete with the entire Pac 12 immediately.

The expectations by some fans were a little high, but Salt Lake City still isn't seen as a destination for many recruits. It will take a couple of years, and some success in the conference for them to make the jump that many were hoping for.

4. Is there a reason for the turnover struggles?

Jon Hays has committed many of the turnovers through bad decisions, but there have also been issues with fumbles as well. It's just undisciplined football, which is a big surprise because of the discipline Kyle Whittingham teams usually display.

5. Utah wins if...

It forces turnovers and can get at least 2 big plays in the passing game. Utah has to have short fields. If the defense can't give that to them with a few turnovers, the offense will struggle, as they're not equipped to travel 80 yards on one drive consistently.

6. Arizona wins if...

It stacks the box and make Jon Hays beat them. John White can be stopped with 8 and 9 guys in the box. Hays hasn't shown the ability to complete passes longer than 15 yards with any sort of consistency.

7. Injury Report and impact

QB Jordan Wynn missing the rest of the season is huge. He's been out for weeks, so it isn't new, but the loss of the junior has set back the offense significantly. Linebacker J.J. Williams is out for the year as is backup offensive lineman Latu Heimuli.

8. Arizona is deep at receiver, will Utah continue to play man or will there likely be a different scheme?

The corners have shown that they can play man to man, especially Conroy Black. They'll likely come out in a man to man, and adjust depending on how things are going. If Arizona employs four receiver sets, which I'm sure they will, you'll see the Utes in a lot of nickel and dime packages trying to combat that.

9. Which receiver is most likely to have a strong game?

Devonte Christopher is most likely. He's an elite talent who should be fully healed after missing a few games (he came back last week). He's a game breaker who is very up and down with big games one week followed by a disappearing act the next.

10.Utah has been relatively inconsistent this year. Why?

The defense has been consistently good, but in the games they've given up big points, it's often because the offense has turned the ball over, giving up a short field. They've also spent a lot of time on the field in those games so fatigue was a factor. The offense has been inconsistent because they don't have a quarterback. If John White isn't running well and the offensive line isn't opening holes, they struggle. it's been very a much a week on, week off, effort out of the running game.


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