Position Battles: Utah vs Washington

Who has the edge at each position? Inside The Utes breaks it all down...

Quarterback
Jordan Wynn vs Keith Price
Wynn clearly had his best game of the season against BYU in the Utah route. While the armstrength is still a concern, he did air it out with mixed results. The biggest positive that can be drawn from that game that we can apply going forward is that Norm Chow is going to call a game that puts Wynn in the best situations possible to succeed. He's throwing for just over 190 yards per game with 5 touchdowns and 1 interception. Price has been tremendous in his first year as a starter, leading the country in touchdown passes with 14 with only 3 interceptions. He's also completing 67% of his passes for an average of 8.8 yards per attempt. By comparison, Jordan Wynn is averaging only 5.8 yards per attempt. He's arguably been the best quarterback in the Pac 12 to this point in the season.
Advantage: Washington

Running Back
John White vs Chris Polk
White has been the surprise back in the Pac 12, second in the conference in rush yards per game at 126.7 per. White showed his big play ability against BYU breaking multiple big runs for touchdowns on his way to over 170 yards. Chris Polk is the ultimate workhorse with at least 20 carries in each of Washington's first three games. He ran for over 100 yards in their first three contests, but was limited to only 60 on 20 carries against Cal. Polk put up tremendous numbers and is, without question, one of the top three backs in the conference. His longest run of the season is only 26 yards, but he could breakout for a big one at any moment. Polk has reeled in 7 catches as well, including a 70 yarder for a touchdown last week.
Advantage: Washington

Wide Receiver
Devonte Christopher, Reggie Dunn, and Dres Anderson vs Jermaine Kearse, Devin Aguilar, and James Johnson
Christopher continues to be the go-to receiver for the Utes with his team high 16 catches for 205 yards and 2 TDs. Dres Anderson looks like Jordan Wynn's second favorite target after his big games against USC and BYU. The speedster comes in with 9 catches for 158 yards and a touchdown. Johnson leads the Huskies in receptions with 14, including 3 touchdowns. He's followed by Aguilar who has 13 and a TD, while Kearse has 4 touchdowns already on the season on 11 catches. He's the big gun, coming off of a 1,000 yard season with 63 catches and 12 TDs. Throw in youngsters Kevin Smith and Kasen Williams, who have combined for another 12 catches and a touchdown, and Washington has one of the top receiving groups in the conference. They're big, they're fast, and if Price is on, they're going to be trouble for the smaller Utah corners.
Advantage: Even

Tight End
Kendrick Moeia and Dallin Rogers vs Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Michael Hartvigson
Rogers has been used as a safety net at times by Wynn who has hit the big tight end for 10 catches on the year. Moeia has 6 catches on the year for 29 yards. The true freshman Seferian-Jenkins has 9 catches of an astounding 18.9 yards per catch and 3 touchdowns. Hartvigson has 3 catches for 12 yards.
Advantage: Even

Left Tackle
John Cullen vs Senio Kelemete
Cullen bounced back after a poor performance against USC with a much better game against BYU. He'll have his hands full against Washington with Everett Thompson and speed rusher Josh Shirley. Kelemete is another one in a long line of big time left tackles the Utes will face this year. He doesn't have overwhelming size, but is experienced with 28 starts.
Advantage: Washington

Left Guard
Miles Mason vs Colin Tanigawa
Mason has been as good as the Utes could have hoped for in his first three games and appears to be getting better each week. The bye week could prove to be huge for the junior who is still learning the Utah system. Tanigawa is a redshirt freshman who's been very effective for the Huskies to this point. He's got good size and could grow into an All Pac 12 caliber lineman down the road.
Advantage: Utah

Center
Tevita Stevens vs Drew Schaefer
Schaefer is in his third year as a starter with spot starts at the right and left tackle spots to go along with his current position at center. Stevens has been arguably the Utes best lineman to date this season and is the most experienced now that Tony Bergstrom is questionable for Saturday.
Advantage: Even

Right Guard
Sam Brenner vs Colin Porter
Where did Sam Brenner come from? The first year starter has been tremendous for the line, grading out as the best offensive linemen to date for the Utes. Porter is the biggest of the offensive lineman for Washinton at 6-4, 322 pounds. The sophomore comes in with 10 career starts under his belt.
Advantage: Even

Right Tackle
Tony Bergstrom or Percy Tuamoelau vs Erik Kohler
Bergstrom is the Utes' leader on the line and arguably their most important offensive player outside of Jordan Wynn If he can't play, it's a big blow to the team. Tuamoelau was tremendous against BYU when Bergstrom went down. Expecting the same result against a Washington line that is going to be better than BYU's is probably asking for too much. The kid can play though and probably cemented a starting spot for himself in 2011. Kohler was a high ranking recruit that had four starts as a true freshman in 2010. He's got NFL size and talent. If Bergstrom plays, this is a win for the Utes. If Tuamoelau plays, Washington has the edge.
Advantage: Even

Defensive End
Derrick Shelby and Joe Kruger vs Talia Crichton and Josh Shirley
The Utah defensive ends are more than just Shelby and Kruger with guys like Fakahafua, Finau, Talamaivao, and Fotu making noise as well. This group has been better each week and will need to be at their best against a very good quarterback in Price. Shelby has a sack, a fumble recovery for a touchdown, and 3 pass breakups on the year. Kruger has 1 tackle for loss. Shirley is a speed rushing redshirt freshman, who isn't much of an every-down player, although he did play most of the game last week against Cal after starter Hau'oli Jamora went down. He has 1 sack on the year. Crichton is in his first year as a full-time starter and has rotated between end and tackle.
Advantage: Utah

Defensive Tackle
Star Lotulei and James Aiono/Dave Kruger vs Alameda Ta'amu and Everrette Thompson
The interior of the Utah defensive line came into the season as arguably the biggest strength on the team, and have not disappointed holding their opponents, and their running games, in check. BYU couldn't do much against the Utes two weeks ago, but Chris Polk is an elite power back and the Washington offensive line is good enough that is going to test these tackles as much as they've been tested all year. Lotulelei continues to be the dominant force while Aiono and Kruger both compliment him well. For Washington, the duo or Everette and Thompson have combined for 2 sacks and 3 tackles for loss.
Advantage: Utah

Linebacker
Brian Blechen, Matt Martinez, and Chaz Walker vs John Timu, Cort Dennison, and Princeton Fuimaono
You can throw in Trevor Reilly here too, who had an all-timer of a game against BYU and was national defensive player of the week by some publications. The Utah group continues to do what it does best; make tackles, force turnovers, and make plays. They'll be tested with all three being undersized going against a power back in Chris Polk, but Blechen, Martinez, and Walker work so well together that gang tackling should be in full force against the Huskies and Polk as they try to maintain their tremendous average of giving up only 79.3 yards per game on the ground. Dennison is a Salt Lake City product that leads the team in tackles, tackles for loss, and is tied for the lead in sacks. Opponents are currently rushing for over 120 yards per game against the Huskies, but much of that came in the loss to Nebraska.
Advantage: Utah

Cornerback
Ryan Lacy and Conroy Black vs Desmond Trufant, Quinton Richardson/Gregory Ducre
Black has been very quiet this year, with not many balls being thrown his way, which is just what he prefers. Lacy on the other hand, has seen a ton of balls tossed his way, with mixed results. He's been burned a few times, but also made a few tremendous plays, including a diving interception against USC. Lacy leads the team with 4 pass breakups. The Washington pass defense has struggled through four games this season giving up over 327 yards per game through the air, including 349 last week against Zach Maynard and Cal. Opponents are completing only 58.7% of passes, which means the Huskies have been susceptible to the big play. They've given up 14 passing plays of 20 yards or more with four of those going for TDs. Trufant is the leader of the group and has 2 interceptions.
Advantage: Utah

Safety
Eric Rowe/Keith McGill and Quade Chappuis/Michael Walker vs Nate Fellner and Sean Parker
Who's it going to be for the Utes? Chappuis burst on to the scene with his strong performance against BYU, including an interception. He's the newest to the now quartet of safeties for Utah. Walker has been in and out of the lineup, and arguably the most consistent of the safeties to this point in the season. Rowe has played up to his physical ability at times, but looked like a freshman at others, while McGill still doesn't look completely comfortable yet. If they're not prepared, Price and the big Washington receivers will pick them apart. Parker is second on the Washington squad in tackles with 32 and is an elite talent with NFL size and skills. Fellner will be starting his third game of the season after starting all 13 last year. He's got good size and is a big hitter.
Advantage: Washington

Placekicker
Coleman Peterson vs Erik Folk
Peterson is 4 of 6 on the season with a long of 44, but looked poor against BYU. He'll need to be better as his kicking could end up deciding the game. Folk is an All Conference kicker who is 6 of 7 on the year with a long of 53.
Advantage: Washington

Punter
Nick Marsh/Sean Sellwood vs Will Mahan
The Utes used a two punter attack against BYU and could do so again this week. Marsh is averaging 41.6 yards per punt with a long of 47, while Sellwood is at 41.1 with a long of 57. Will Mahan took over the punting duties last week and averaged 39 yards per punt with a long of 41.
Advantage: Even

Punt Returns
Griff McNabb/Charles Henderson vs Devin Aguilar/Kasen Williams
The Utes have shuttled back and forth between McNabb, the sure-handed returner, and Henderson, the speedy playmaker. McNabb is averaging 4 yards per return while Henderson is averaging 12.2. Aguilar is averaging 10 yards per return while Williams is averaging 9.4 for the Huskies.
Advantage: Even

Kick Returns
Reggie Dunn and Ryan Lacy vs Kevin Smith and Jesse Callier
These are two of the best teams in the country in returning kickoffs with the Utah duo averaging 26.2 between them and the Washington pair at 26.8 per return with both Smith and Callier breaking 55+ returns. The Utah kick-coverage team has been stellar, while Washington's has been average.
Advantage: Utah


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