Utah vs BYU- Position Battles

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

The matchups:

Quarterback
Jordan Wynn vs. Jake Heaps
Heaps came in with as much hype as any BYU recruit ever. He was widely regarded as the top prep QB in the nation last season and it was all but assumed that he would be given the starting job. It didn't happen. Sharing reps with dual-threat Riley Nelson until Nelson went down with an injury. Heaps struggled to find a groove, taking a lot of sacks, throwing picks, and fumbling often. He's picked his game up quite a bit the last three weeks, but that might be a product of the opponents. He has as much upside as almost any quarterback in the country, but if a BYU coach, player, or fan tells you that Heaps has played as well as they thought he would, they're lying. Wynn set a career high with 362 yards against San Diego State and looked great making the right reads, throwing the ball well, and most importantly playing with confidence. More games of that nature are the future for Wynn as opposed to the struggles he had against TCU and Notre Dame.
Advantage: Utah

Running Back/Fullback
Matt Asiata, Eddie Wide, and Shawn Asiata vs. Josh Quezada, J.J. Di Luigi, and Bryan Kariya
Di Luigi has been the Cougars biggest offensive threat, leading the team in rushing at over 800 yards on the ground as well as leading the team in catches with 41 and receiving yards with 410. Throw in 8 total touchdowns and an average of 5.3 yards per carry and he'll be a big factor against the Utah defense. Kariya is the junior power back used to move the pile in short yardage situations. He's not going to break the long run, but does have 17 catches on the year. The freshman Quezada is coming off his first career 100 yard game against New Mexico and is seeing more carries each week. Wide and Asiata both had pretty good games last week, with each breaking a long run. Neither has had the season this year that many anticpated, but splitting carries has definitely hurt their rhythm on occasion. They're still one of the premier duos in the country, although Asiata has been the stronger runner for much of the year. With BYU's run defense having struggled at times, expect each to get quite a few carries.
Advantage: Utah

Wide Receiver
Jereme Brooks , Luke Matthews, Shaky Smithson and DeVonte Christopher vs. Luke Ashworth, Cody Hoffman, McKay Jacobson
The BYU receiving corps took a huge hit athletically with the mid-season departure of the O'Neil Chambers, but the unit as a whole has been much better without him. Luke Ashworth had four touchdowns against Colorado State a few weeks ago to give him six on the season on only 29 catches. McKay Jacobson doesn't have any touchdowns on the year, but has been a good possession receiver with 26 catches. The freshman Hoffman leads the receivers in catches with 31 and 4 touchdowns. This is a solid group, but nothing special. Brooks and company had a nice game against SDSU with multiple receivers making catches and an impact. Shaky has been dependable throughout the year and brings a big play ability. Chistopher has been the Utes best receiver and a matchup nightmare for opponents. Matthews has had a few big plays, but is still a year a away from making a giant impact.
Advantage: Utah

Tight End/Fullback
Kendrick Moeia vs. Devin Mahina
Mahina, and co-freshman Mike Muehlmann are the next in a long line of great tight ends at BYU. They don't have a ton of catches, but have been an integral part of the offense. Moeia is good for oen catche in the 25 yard range every game. Throw in Dallin Rogers and Brad Clifford and the Utes have a lot of weapons at tight end.
Advantage: Even

Left Tackle
John Cullen vs. Matt Reynolds
Reynolds came into the season as everyone's All American. He's moved around the line a bit to help out with injuries and hasn't been as good as he was last year. He's likely off to the NFL after this season and could be a first rounder. Cullen hasn't been great the last few weeks, with the wear and tear of a full Division 1 football season taking its toll on the undersized left tackle.
Advantage: BYU

Left Guard
Caleb Schlauderaff vs. Braden Hansen
The sophomore Hansen has been a full time starter since his freshman year and is one of the best guards in the conference. Schlaideraff is one of the best guards in the country. Case closed.
Advantage: Utah

Center
Zane Taylor vs. Terence Brown

Taylor had a nice bounceback game last week against SDSU, helping open up lanes for big runs by the running backs and keeping Jordan Wynn fairly clean. He's still one of the best centers in the country.
Advantage: Utah

Right Guard
Tevita Stevens vs. Jason Speredon
Speredon has battled injuries in his career and somewhat of the lost man on the offensive line. Stevens had another good game against San Diego State and has been very consistent for a sophomore. A great run blocker, he could be the Utes' best lineman next season.
Advantage: Utah

Right Tackle
Tony Bergstrom vs. Braden Brown
Brown is another sophomore on this young line who had a few starts in 2009 after moving over from tight end. Will be a good one by the end of his career. Bergstrom has tailed off as the season has progressed and he's faced better competition, but is still one of the best right tackles in the conference.
Advantage: Utah

Defensive Ends
Junior Tui'one, Christian Cox, and Derrick Shelby vs. Matt Putnam and Vic So'oto
The senior So'oto is the team's best lineman with 4 sacks on the year. Putnam has seven starts on the year, but only one sack. He's better against the run than against the pass. Cox leads the ends with four sacks, but this group has been very inconsistent all season. They did get some pressure on Lindley last week against San Diego State and will try to do the same this week against a true freshman quarterback. Tui'one has been hobbled for the past few weeks but is expected to play. Shelby is the Utes' best pass rusher when he wants to be. When at full strength, he's tough to stop.
Advantage: Utah

Defensive Tackle
Sealver Siliga, Dave Kruger and Star Lotulelei. Eathyn Manumaleuna
Manumaleuna has been serviceable in place of the injured Romney Fuga and Jordan Richardson, but is hardly an All Conference type of player. In the 3-4 the Cougards run, he's asked to do more than he might be able to at the moment. Siliga is expected back this week after missing the last game due to injury. He's arguably the best defensive tackle in the conference. Kruger looked much better against SDSU than in weeks past. The BYU offensive line is big, and he's struggled against larger lines. Lotulelei is the man child with as much upside as any player on the team. He's been a good one this year. He could be great in a year or two.
Advantage: Utah

Linebackers
Chad Manis, Matt Martinez, Chaz Walker vs. Jadon Wagner, Jameson Frazier, Shane Hunter and Brandon Ogletree
The loss of Jordan Pendleton to injury has not been as bad as anticipated as this group has excelled under the eye of Bronco Mendenhall once Jaime Hill was dismissed as defensive coordinator. Wagner has seven starts with 30 tackles and five tackles for loss. Ogletree has been dependable and has a bright future. Hunter has been the best linebacker on the year with. While they've been much better in the past few games, this is the same unit that was lit up in the run game over the first half of the season. Walker has been a tackling machine all season while Martinez has improved mightily since week one as the most consistent linebacker. Manis returned in a limited role last week and the Utes got the W. They're 9-0 when he plays.
Advantage: Utah

Cornerback
Brandon Burton and Lamar Chapman vs. Brian Logan and Brandon Bradley
The corners have been pretty good as the BYU defense is giving up only 186 yards per game through the air. But part of that is due to the fact that teams ran all over them for the first half of the season and didn't need to pass Logan has six pass breakups and 2 interceptions while Bradley comes in with three passes broken up. Burton, Chapman, and the rest of the secondary were burned for over 500 yards through the air last week against Ryan Lindley and San Diego State. That won't happen again this week as this group is still one of the best in the conference, but needs to be better this week to keep Jake Heaps from getting any sort of confidence.
Advantage: Utah

Safety
Justin Taplin-Ross and Brian Blechen vs. Andrew Rich and Travis Uale

Rich is one of the best safeties in the conference and leads the team in tackles. He's a big hitter and will be in on every play while getting into the backfield often. Uale has started seven games on the year and is a serviceable safety for the Cougs. Rich will be the best safety in the game, but Utah has the next best two. Blechen and Taplin-Ross have been prone to giving up the big play the last few weeks, but a tenacious hitters and great in run support.
Advantage: Even

Kicker
Joe Phillips vs. Mitch Payne
Payne is 13 of 16 with a long of 48 on the year. He's a very reliable kicker. Phillips was a do everything man last week in earning MWC Special Teams Player of the Week Honors. He's one of the best in the country.
Advantage: Utah

Punter
Sean Sellwood vs Riley Stepehenson
Stephenson has been decent at 41.3 yards per kick while pinning 15 kicks inside the 20. Sellwood was replaced by kicker Joe Phillips last week. When he's kicking weel, he's one of the best n the country.
Advantage: Even

Kick/Punt Returner
Shaky Smithson and Reggie Dunn vs. JD Falslev and Cody Hoffman
Shaky and Dunn have been average at best the past couple of weeks, but are still one of the top duos in the country. Hoffman has averaged over 32 yards per kickoff return in limited chances while Falslev has struggled returning punts, averaging only7.2 yards per return.
Advantage: Utah

Totals- Utah 13 BYU 1 Even 3

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