Utah vs SDSU- Position Battles

Who has the edge at each position? InsideTheUtes breaks it all down...

The matchups:

Jordan Wynn vs. Ryan Lindley
This is the week for Jordan Wynn. If he can't do something to get himself fired up, get his tream fired up, move the ball, and put some points on the board, his future as the Utah quarterback is going to be questioned severly. San Diego State doesn't have the most stout defense out there, but they'll bring some pressure and their 3-3-5 formation might give Wynn trouble. He faced a 4-3 the first 7 games the year and the Utes were dominant. Air Force, TCU, and Notre Dame threw either 3-4 or 3-3-5 defenses at the Utes and they struggled offensively. Will we see more of the same Saturday? Lindley is arguably the best quarterback in the conference. He's got NFL size, an NFL arm, and likes to throw it downfield with 18 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. A real gunslinger. He'll test the Utah corners and safeties often.
Advantage: San Diego State

Running Back/Fullback
Matt Asiata, Eddie Wide, vs. Ronnie Hillman and Brandon Sullivan
Hillman leads the conference in rushing as a true freshman and has been more than the Aztecs could have ever asked for. Easily their best back since Lynell Hamilton, and possibly their best back since Marshall Faulk. This should be changed to just Asiata as he's looked like the only real running back the past few weeks. He needs the ball 25+ times on Saturday. Do that, and he'll go well over 100 yards and Utah will win. It really is that simple.
Advantage: Even

Wide Receiver
Jereme Brooks , Luke Matthews, Shaky Smithson and DeVonte Christopher vs. DeMarco Sampson and Vincent Brown
Brown and Sampson are the best receiving duo in the conference with each closing in on 1000 yards receiving on the year. They'll be a tough matchup for the Utah corners who will try to shut down the big play ability of both receivers who are averaging over 19 yards per catch each. The Utah receiving group has disappeared. Yeah, Smithson, Matthews, and Christopher combined for 12 catches against Notre Dame, but it was the least impressive 12 catch effort ever. They're not getting any kind of separation and aren't doing Jordan Wynn any favors by only catching balls that hit them in the hands in stride. They need to pick up their game, and fast.
Advantage: San Diego State

Tight End/Fullback
Kendrick Moeia vs. Gavin Escobar
Escobar has 16 catches and 3 touchdowns on the year meaning the Utes will have to pay attention to him. Moeia has had a 20+ yard catch each of the past threw games down the middle. Why they aren't throwing that to him more often is beyond me. Until Utah uses him more, SDSU gets the edge.
Advantage: San Diego State

Left Tackle
John Cullen vs. Tommie Draheim
Cullen was used and abused by Notre Dame on Saturday with false starts and getting beat time and time again. Draheim has 17 career starts and is a superb pass blocker. Could end up with All MWC honors by the end of the year.
Advantage: San Diego State

Left Guard
Caleb Schlauderaff vs. Alec Johnson
Johnson has been a starter since midway through his freshman year and is thriving in his sophomore season. Schlauderaff had a rough go of it against Notre Dame with two false starts. He's still one of the best guards in the country and will be much better this week.
Advantage: Utah

Zane Taylor vs. Trask Iosefa
Iosefa is one of the best centers in the Mountain West and has been a starter since his freshman year with over 40 career starts. Taylor wasn't terrible last week against Notre Dame, but wasn't great either. His senior leadership needs to help Jordan Wynn get through his struggles right now and help get this team back on track.
Advantage: Utah

Right Guard
Tevita Stevens vs. Nik Embernate
Embernate is big kid who has 17 career starts under his belt and excels in run blocking. Stevens wasn't at his best against the big Notre Dame defensive line. He'll need to be better this week in opening up holes for Wide and Asiata.
Advantage: Even

Right Tackle
Tony Bergstrom vs. Kurtis Gunther
Gunther is the brother of former Utah center and captain Kyle Gunther. He's in his first year as a starter, but is a big kid at 6'8." Bergstrom had a tough game last week against Notre Dame, making that two weeks in a row that he struggled. San Diego State isn't going to have the athletes to test him much. Despite the fact that Kyle and I are friends and host a radio show together, Bergstrom gets the nod over little (but bigger) brother.
Advantage: Utah

Defensive Ends
Tevita Finau, Christian Cox, and Derrick Shelby vs. Ernie Lawson and Jacob Tauanuu
Lawson is the leader and captain of the defense. He's second on the team in tackles for loss, but only has one sack. A big kid who is much better in run support than rushing the passer. Tauanuu is a speedster off of the end, but is still looking for his first sack. He'll look to take advantage of a struggling John Cullen. The Utes defensive ends couldn't do anything against Notre Dame as the loss of Junior Tui'one has been bigger than anyone could have anticipated. Shelby has looked better as the year has gone on and he's gotten healthier, but the lack of consistent pass rush out of the others is troubling. With Lindley dropping back 7 steps often to throw the deep ball, the Ute ends may have some of their best chances at picking up sacks on the year.
Advantage: Utah

Defensive Tackle
Sealver Siliga, Dave Kruger and Star Lotulelei vs. Neil Spencer and Jerome Long
Spencer is the rock in the middle of that line that makes everything work. He'll have to take on two blockers consistently while allowing the linebackers to come up and make plays in the middle of the field. Long is a tall kid at 6'5" who has problems getting leverage in the run game, but is a solid backup. Lotulelei is now even with Kruger on the depth chart after a solid performance on Saturday when Kruger struggled. Kruger needs a better performance this week if he wants to fall to a permanent number 2 on the depth chart.
Advantage: Utah

Chad Manis, Matt Martinez, Chaz Walker vs. Logan Ketchum, Rob Andrews, and Miles Burris
Andrews is in for the injured Marcus Yarbrough, but the star of the group, and probably the entire defense is Burris. They're not the biggest bunch of linebackers with Andrew and Ketchum coming in at a lanky 220 pounds each, but the abilities of Burris make up for it. He leads the conference in tackles for loss with 15 and will be around every single play. As a whole, the Aztecs are giving up almost 150 yards a game on the ground. They'll need to be at or below that to beat Utah. If Chad Manis is back, he'll make a world of difference. The linebackers for Utah didn't give up a ton of yards last week against Notre Dame, but were not very good, looking overmatched and slow. The depth has become scary thin with Boo Anderson the backup at all three spots now that J.J. Williams is out again. With Ronnie Hillman they're going to have their hands full.
Advantage: Even

Brandon Burton and Lamar Chapman vs. Leon McFadden and Josh Wade
SDSU's pass defense is pretty good, giving up less than 200 yards per game through the air. McFadden is tied for the team lead with 2 interceptions while Wade has one. Wade is filling in for the injured Perez who is generally regarded as the team's best cornerback. Burton and Chapman were much better against Notre Dame than against TCU. The final outcome didn't show it, but they did their jobs in coverage. The only completions Notre Dame QB had were on perfectly placed passes. With Ryan Lindley and the SDSU receiving duo, they'll be tested this week. You might see a lot of nickel coverage with Conroy Black coming into the game.
Advantage: Utah

Justin Taplin-Ross and Brian Blechen vs. Darryn Lewis, Andrew Preston, and Brandon Davis
Preston and Lewis each have two interceptions on the year and have done a very good job of help limit the passing game for opposing offenses. Preston is a big hitter who can stop the runm while Lewis is a tiny guy who is better in the passing game. Throw in the versatile Brandon Davis and you have a good unit. Justin Taplin-Ross and Brian Blechen were steady in the Notre Dame game, but were both responsible for huge gaffes that led to touchdowns. With the big play ability of the SDSU receivers, they need to be at the top of their game.
Advantage: Even

Joe Phillips vs. Abel Perez
Perez has made 75% of his kicks on the year going 15-20, but is only 1 for 4 beyond 40 yards. Phillips nailed a nice 47 yard field goal against Notre Dame giving the Utes their only points of the game and still has only one miss on the year.
Advantage: Utah

Sean Sellwood vs Brian Stahovich
Stahovich is fifth in the country in punting average at over 46 yards per kick including an unbelievable 89 yarder. I don't know where Sellwood's leg has gone, but he's been awful the past couple of weeks with short kick after short kick. There might be an injury that isn't being reported.
Advantage: San Diego State

Kick/Punt Returner
Shaky Smithson and Reggie Dunn vs. Brandon Davis and Larry Parker
Davis has been very good averaging over 23 yards per kickoff return, but doesn't have one longer that 37 on the year. Parker isn't doing as well averaging under 8 yards per punt return. Shaky and Dunn have been neutralized the past few weeks without getting anything going in the return game. They're still two of the best in the country, but need to break one…soon.
Advantage: Utah

Totals- Utah 8 San Diego 5 State Even 4

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