Jordan Wynn vs. Tim Jefferson
Jefferson runs the ball as well as any quarterback in the conference and leads the team in touchdowns with eight. He's thrown for almost 900 yards, which is much more than you might expect out of an Air Forcequarterback. What else can we say about Wynn? Outside of the three interceptions he had at Wyoming, he's running the offense efficiently and with confidence. If he plays like he did last week, Air Force has no chance… and TCU might not either.
Matt Asiata, Eddie Wide, and Shawn Asiata vs. Asher Clark, Cody Gertz, and Nathan Walker
Air Force leads the country in rushing at over 326 yards per game, but has been held under 200 yards each of the past two weeks against San Diego State and TCU. The loss of Jared Tew midway through the SDSU game has been a huge blow as Asher Clark is now taking the bulk of the carries. Clark had only 18 yards on 10 carries last week, but does have almost 700 on the season. Gertz is a little guy who is a threat to break a long one each time he touches the ball, but doesn't get a ton of carries. The fullback Walker is good for 5-8 carries a game and 4 yards a pop. Eddie Wide had his best and most complete game last week as he ran with more authority than in weeks past. He's become very effective catching balls out of the backfield as well and could see more opportunities there this week. Matt Asiata is going to be his consistent self running over, around, and through all would be blockers. At times, he's looked like the best running back in the conference this year. If he had a full load of carries, he could be a 1,400 yard back. Shawn Asiata is a battering ram of a fullback. The guy loves to hit, but won't get the ball much. If Tew was healthy, this would be much closer.
Jereme Brooks , Luke Matthews, Shaky Smithson and DeVonte Christopher vs. Kyle Halderman and Jonathan Warzeka
Air Force doesn't like to throw the ball so the receivers aren't asked to do much more than block. Halderman and Warzeka have only 19 catches between them, but are both averaging more than 17.5 yards per catch. Brooks had a great bounceback game last week. He, Smithson and Christopher each had 5+ catches last week. Matthews has caught a long flea-flicker each of the last two weeks. They'll be tested by an Air Force secondary that is underrated.
Kendrick Moeia vs. Chaz Demerath
Moeia looked good again last week with another long catch. Don't be surprised when he gets into the end zone this week for the first time all year. Demerath is tied for the team lead with 12 catches and is a pretty good blocker, but is undersized for a tight end.
John Cullen vs. Jason Kons
Kons is a youngster and a first year starter this year. He's got very quick feet and moves well down the field. Cullen has been everything the coaching staff had hoped for in the their new left tackle. No one can get by him in pass protection.
Caleb Schlauderaff vs. Tyler Schonsheck
Schonsheck is in his first year as a starter and has been a pleasant surprise, but can't hold a candle to the play of Schlauderaff, the best guard in the conference.
Zane Taylor vs. Michael Hester
Phil Steele had the gall to put Hester as his second team All MWC midseason center and Taylor as his third. Hester can play, but Taylor is the far superior player… and it isn't even close.
Tevita Stevens vs. A.J. Wallerstein
Wallerstein is the biggest of the offensive lineman, and really stands out with his size on the small Air Force offensive line. Like most of his co-linemen, he excels in run blocking. He's the best of the bunch. Tevita Stevens was finally the superior offensive guard on his own line last week as he outplayed Caleb Schlauderaff for the first time all year… and that isn't a knock on Schlauderaff at all. Stevens was that good, but still has room for more growth.
Tony Bergstrom vs. Chase Darden
Darden is another lineman in his first year as a starter. He's very light at only 255 pounds. Bergstrom continues to be the invisible man on the right side as he goes about his business, shutting down defensive ends. Can he get his revenge on TCU next week after last year's debacle?
Junior Tui'one, Christian Cox, and Derrick Shelby vs. Rick Rickets and Zach Payne
Rickets is a good defensive lineman with 5 career sacks. He's very good at getting into the backfield as well and gobbling up running backs. Payne is light on experience and talent at this point. The Utah offensive line should push him around with ease. Shelby had his second straight big game last week and Cox was an animal in both running and passing situations. Tui'one has started to take a backseat to both Shelby and Cox.
Sealver Siliga and Dave Kruger vs. Bradley Connor
The Falcons use a 3-4 defense so Connor is alone inside. He's not the biggest kid and is a first year starter. Siliga and Kruger had another great game against Colorado State. Let's see if the monotony of the Air Force offense bores or lulls them to sleep.
Chad Manis, Matt Martinez, Chaz Walker vs. Patrick Hennessey, Brady Amack, Jordan Waiwaiole, and Andrew Morris
The rushing defense for the Falcons is not very good in giving up over 200 yards a game. While they have good size and experience, the talent just isn't there. Waiwaiole is probably the best of the bunch. The Utah running game should be able to put up good numbers against this group. While the defensive line has received a lot of the credit for the run defense being so good and holding opponents to under 90 yards per game, the linebacking trio has been much better than expected, as each has fit into his role very well. They'll be tested this week by the running game of Air Force, meaning Walker and company could each pick up double digit tackles.
Brandon Burton and Lamar Chapman vs. Reggie Rembert and Anthony Wooding
Wooding had his first career start last week against TCU. Jordan Wynn will likely throw at him a lot on Saturday. Rembert is one of the best DBs in the conference. He's got a great nose for the ball with three interceptions, and is a very savvy player. Chapman is the master of the blitz and has been very good in coverage. His help in run support could be a big key on Saturday. Burton didn't have his best game against Colorado State, but is still the premier cornerback in the conference.
Justin Taplin-Ross and Brian Blechen vs. Jon Davis and Anthony Wright
Davis leads the team in tackles and is generally all over the field as evidenced by his five career interceptions. Anhony Wright has 12 career turnovers with eight interceptions, 3 forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery. With the Utes penchant for turning the ball over, he could be another big factor. These two are very good. Justin Taplin-Ross had arguably his best game against Colorado State and has really improved his pass coverage skills as the season has gone on. He and co-pilot, Blechen, are probably the hardest hitting safety tandem in the conference. No one goes over the middle on these two.
Joe Phillips vs. Eric Soderberg
Soderberg is 4 for 8 on the year with a long of 30. Phillips might be the best kicker in the country.
Sean Sellwood vs Keil Bartholomew
Bartholomew doesn't have the biggest leg out there averaging only 41.5 yards per punt. Sellwood has been off the past few weeks, but we can probably chalk it up to rust and the fact he hasn't had to punt much this year.
Shaky Smithson and Reggie Dunn vs. Anthony Wright and Jonathan Warzeka
Warzeka is one of the best kick returners in the country averaging almost 30 yards per return with a 100 yard touchdown in there, but was absolutely shut down by TCU last week. Wright hasn't had a ton of opportunities, but is averaging almost 13 yard per punt return and is a real speedster. C'mon Shaky. You haven't taken a punt back for a touchdown in weeks. Air Force is giving up only 5 yards per punt return, so it isn't going to be easy. The Falcons do rank 99th in the country in kickoff return defense, but are yet to allow an opposing player to take one all the way back.
Totals- Utah 14 Air Force 0 Even 3
Utah vs Air Force- Position Battles
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