Position Battles- Utah vs Pitt

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

Quarterback
Jon Hays vs Tino Sunseri
Hays had his moments in his first career start last week against Arizona State, but turnovers and a few poor decisions helped lead to the Utes second straight home loss. He's not expected to light the world on fire, and while he put the Utes in situations to be successful at times, too many mistakes hurt their chances. Utah needs to utilize the short, quick passes that Hays was effective on last week and get him rolling out of the pocket more often so he can make a few plays with his legs if they want to move the ball consistently. Sunseri is coming off of a terrible game in which he threw 4 picks against Rutgers. That comes on the heels of a great game the week before in a blowout of South Florida. Despite pedestrian numbers, Sunseri can tuck it and run, and will try to do so at times against the Utes. Through the air, he's throwing for just under 200 yards a game with 5 TDs and 7 interceptions while completing 63% of his passes.
Advantage: Pitt

Running Back
John White vs Ray Graham
White was decent against Arizona State last week, but nothing too exciting outside of his 30 yard touchdown scamper early in the game. He's continued to struggle at times against BCS opponents, unable to find much consistency. White comes in averaging exactly 100 yards per game on the year with 6 touchdowns. Graham is one of the elite backs in the country, coming in averaging 149.8 yards per game on the ground, good for second best in the country. He's a workhorse too with 150 carries at an average of 5.99 per. Graham's 6 game stretch to open the season is the best 6 game stretch in school history in terms of rushing yards, passing up the likes of LeSean McCoy, Dion Lewis, Craig ‘Ironhead' Heyward and Heisman Trophy winner Tony Dorsett. Graham has also found the end zone often with 9 TDs.
Advantage: Pitt

Fullback
Dallin Rogers/Shawn Asiata/Luke Matthews vs Mark Giubilato
Dallin Rogers is second on the team with 21 catches and has really turned into a reliable weapon for the Utah quarterbacks with 2 touchdowns. Asiata is used solely as a blocking back. Matthews has 8 catches on the season. Giubilato is used solely as a blocker.
Advantage: Utah

Wide Receiver
Devonte Christopher, Reggie Dunn, and Dres Anderson vs Devin Street, Mike Shanahan, and Cameron Saddler
The Utah receivers are still adjusting to life without their starting quarterback and the results have shown on the field. Christopher is still leading the team in receptions with 23 for 352 yards and 2 touchdowns. Behind him is Anderson with 14 catches for 231 yards and 2 touchdowns of his own. Dunn continues to make more plays on the ground than through the air with only 7 catches on the season. Watch for redshirt freshman Kenneth Scott to get more involved this week. He had his first career reception last week on a 46 yard flea-flicker that setup a touchdown. Shanahan is a big target at 6-5, 225 pounds and leads the team in receptions with 22 for an average of 11.5 yards per catch and 1 touchdown. Street is another big kid at 6-4 with 20 catches for a 14.1 average and 1 touchdown. Saddler is the burner in the group with 16 catches and a touchdown. Their production overall hasn't been tremendous, but with their collective size, the Pitt receivers could present a few matchup problems.
Advantage: Utah

Tight End
Kendrick Moeia and Jake Murphy vs Hubie Graham
Moeia has battled injuries and has 6 catches while Murphy has 3 and a touchdown. Brown has 16 catches and 2 TDs on the year.
Advantage: Even

Left Tackle
John Cullen vs Juantez Hollis
Cullen had another tough day last week against Arizona State and hasn't lived up to the preseason expectations thrown his way. Hollins is a first year starter with good size at 6-5, 305 and a lot of upside.
Advantage: Even

Left Guard
Miles Mason vs Cory King
Mason has had some trouble with BCS level competition this season, but has done a great job of filling a need on the line after arriving at Utah just a few weeks before the season. King is a first year starter who has filled in for Chris Jacobson after his season ending injury. He's a giant at 6-6, 325 pounds.
Advantage: Even

Center
Tevita Stevens vs Ryan Turnley
Stevens did not have his best game against the Sun Devils, with the ASU interior lineman beating him off the snap a few times and getting into the backfield, but is still an elite center. Turnley is a first year starter and another Pitt lineman with great size at 6-6, 320 pounds.
Advantage: Utah

Right Guard
Sam Brenner vs Lucas Nix
Brenner continues to shine in his first year as a starter for the Utes. The surprise of the offense to this point in the season. Nix is a three year starter and one of the top linemen in the Big East. He'll be playing on Sundays next year.
Advantage: Pitt

Right Tackle
Tony Bergstrom vs Jordan Gibbs
Gibbs has prototypical size at 6-7 and 315 pounds. He's a two year starter and one of the best tackles in the Big East. Bergstrom was solid in his return from injury against Arizona State and despite the Utes' struggles, has still been one of the best tackles in the Pac 12 this season.
Advantage: Even

Defensive End
Derrick Shelby and Joe Kruger vs Brandon Lindsey
Kruger continues to have little to no impact, especially with the pass rush. Shelby has been more consistent and has 2 sacks to go along with 3 passes batted down. Lindsey has 4 sacks on the year coming off the edge for the Panthers. He has more sacks than the Utah starters combined, as well as 21 tackles.
Advantage: Pitt

Defensive Tackle
Star Lotulei and James Aiono/Dave Kruger vs Chas Alecxih and Myles Caragein
Lotulelei was a beast last week against Arizona State and was the biggest reason Utah hung in the game as long as they did. He's been very good the last couple of weeks. The Utes need more playmaking out of their other tackles. Caragein is in his second year as a starter with 13 tackles and fumble recovery. Alecxih is a former walk-on who is also a second year starter. He has 29 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, and 2 sacks on the year. Has also forced two fumbles and had an interception.
Advantage: Even

Linebacker
Trevor Reilly, Matt Martinez, and Chaz Walker vs Ejuan Price, Todd Thomas, Tristan Roberts, and Max Gruder
Reilly has arguably been Utah's biggest impact defensive player to date with multiple sacks, tackles for loss, and forced fumbles. He was stellar again last week against ASU in a LB/DE role. Walker still leads the team in tackles while Martinez is fourth. Walker and Martinez have struggled at times getting off of their blocks. In the Pitt 3-4 defense the linebackers tend to put up big numbers. Gruder is a senior and the defensive leader. He leads the team with 51 tackles and 4.5 tackles for loss. The true freshman Price also has 4.5 tackles for loss. Thomas is another freshman who has 23 tackles while senior Roberts comes in with 35 tackles.
Advantage: Even

Cornerback
Ryan Lacy and Conroy Black vs K'Waun Williams and Antwaun Reed
Black and Lacy have played admirably, but you can only cover for so long when your defensive line doesn't get any pressure on the quarterback. Lacy had a tough game against Arizona State and was physically overmatched by some of the bigger receivers. With Pitt's well-built receiving corps, we could see a lot of Mo Lee. The Pitt secondary has been abused at times this season, giving up an average of 270 yards per game through the air. Neither Reed nor Williams has an interception on the season.
Advantage: Utah

Safety
Eric Rowe and Brian Blechen vs Jason Hendricks and Jarred Holley
Blechen made the move back to safety for the Arizona State game and is slotted their again against Pitt. He had the game winning interception in overtime of week 1 against the Panthers last season. Rowe has solidified his spot at the free safety spot after a fairly good day against Arizona State. His angles have improved as the season has gone on and he's doing a better job in run support. Holley and Hendricks are smaller safeties, both at 190 pounds or less. Holley is a three year starter and is the Big East's active career leader with 9 interceptions. Hendricks has one pick on the year.
Advantage: Even

Placekicker
Coleman Peterson vs Kevin Harper
Peterson is 4 for 6 on the season with a long of 44. Harper is 10 of 14 of the year with a long of 47. He's 4 for 6 from 40 yards or more.
Advantage: Pitt

Punter
Nick Marsh/Sean Sellwood vs Matt Yoklic/Mark Myers
Yoklic is averaging 41.8 yards per punt while Myers is at 46 yards on only one kick. QB Tino sunseri has 6 punts on the year for an average of 34 yards.
Advantage: Even

Punt Returns
Griff McNabb vs Ronald Jones
McNabb is averaging under 2 yards per punt return, but is sure handed and often calls for a fair catch. Jones is averaging 7.1 yards per return on the year with a long of 22.
Advantage: Pitt

Kick Returns
Reggie Dunn and Luke Matthews vs Corey Davis and Buddy Jackson
Dunn is averaging 23.4 yards per return with a long of 38. Matthews takes over for Ryan Lacy and is yet to return a kick. Davis is averaging 19.5 yards per return with a long of 34 while Jackson is at 32 yards per return with a long of 52 in limited touches
Advantage: Even


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