Utah offense vs. BYU defense

The Cougars of BYU will hit the road and travel north to take on Utah this Saturday at Rice Eccles Stadium. As the Utes take the field on offense, they'll face a tough defense expected to be one the best to suit up in BYU blue and white in a very long time.

There will be some key matchups taking place out on the field. Let's take a look at a few of them, starting with Utah's offensive line.

Utah offensive line

Senior Sam Brenner played 12 games at right guard last season but for this year has been moved out to the left tackle position. Against Utah State, Brenner struggled and there has been word from Coach Whittingham that he might be moved back on the inside.

If Brenner is moved back to the guard position, freshman backup Jeremiah Poutasi is the one listed on the two-deep roster. Either one will have the tough task of facing Cougar outside linebacker Kyle Van Noy.

Last year Jeremiah Tofaeono primarily played on special teams with an occasional appearance on the offensive line. This year Tofaeono is a junior and a first-year starter at the left guard position. He'll be facing senior defensive lineman Eathyn Manumaleuna.

One of the more experienced linemen on the team, Tevita Stevens, started in all 13 games at the center position last year after being moved from right guard. The 6-foot-3-inch, 300-pound Stevens will face senior nose guard Romney Fuga.

Left guard Vyncent Jones has been moved to right guard this year and has only played in 12 total games in three seasons. Jones will face senior Russell Tialavea.

At right tackle, junior Percy Taumoelau struggled to keep containment against Utah State. He is again listed as the starting right tackle for the BYU game over senior Miles Mason, who played in 12 games in 2011. BYU tight end Kaneakua Friel's younger brother Kala is listed as the backup to Taumoelau.

Whoever is given the go at right tackle will face Spencer Hadley or Alani Fua when they are called upon to apply pressure from the outside. Utah State redshirt freshman Jordan Nielson recorded two sacks and one quarterback hurry from his defensive end position against Utah last week.

Advantage: BYU

Utah running backs

It's no secret that the Utah rushing attack has been a one-man show in 5-foot-8-inch, 188-pound senior John White. White was the primary offensive weapon last season for Utah, rushing for 1,519 yards. After averaging 116.8 rushing yards per game last season, he rushed for 97 yards against Utah State.

One reason for White's struggles last week against the Aggies was the play of the offensive line. Also, Utah State played more man coverage, leaving the linebackers free to stack the box. White will have to contend with those issues this Saturday, as well as a hampered ankle while going up against linebackers Brandon Ogletree and Uona Kaveinga.

If White isn't able to fully go throughout the entire game, he'll be backed up by either junior Kelvin York or redshirt freshman Jarrell Oliver. Oliver had one rush against Utah State for three yards, while York didn't get any carries against the Aggies.

Advantage: BYU

Junior quarterback Jordan Wynn was knocked out of last week's contest. Unfortunately, Wynn's college career was cut short due to injury issues, presumably leaving the starting duties to backup Jon Hays. Hays started the final nine games of last season, completing just 56 percent of his passes for an average of 132.6 yards per game. Against Utah State, Hays completed only 46 percent of his passes.

Hays will face the best BYU secondary in recent memory with a struggling offensive line that can expect to see pressure from one of the best linebacker corps to dress in BYU blue and white. Hays averaged five yards per pass against USU, and it can be expected that Utah's offense, if its offensive line can't contain, will try and get the ball out of his hands as soon as possible again.

Advantage: BYU

Utah wide receivers

The leading receiver against Utah State was senior DeVonte Christopher, who caught six passes for 56 yards. He'll more than likely face Preston Hadley on the boundary side. Kenneth Scott was more of the downfield threat, catching three passes for 82 yards, and will more than likely face rising Cougar secondary star Jordan Johnson. Rounding out Utah's top three receivers is redshirt sophomore Dres Anderson, who saw time in all 13 games last year. Anderson caught four passes for 53 yards against Northern Colorado and one pass for five yards against Utah State.

Much like in the Washington State game, BYU will mix up the coverage in the secondary using a man-zone coverage as the base. BYU held Mike Leach's air raid spread offense to only 229 passing yards. A repeat performance should be expected by the Cougars.

Advantage: BYU

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