Position Battles- Utah at Cal

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

Quarterback
Jon Hays vs Zach Maynard
Hays managed the game well against Pitt, despite being under constant duress from the Panther defenders. All the coaches need him to do is continue to make smart decisions and not turn the ball over. He's completing 60% of his passes on the season with 3 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. Maynard has been receiving a lot of flack after his poor performance last week against USC that included three interceptions, but he's a better QB than the general public is being made aware of. The transfer from Buffalo is athletic and able to make plays with his feet, and avoid the oncoming rush at times. While his completion percentage of less than 53% is not stellar, Maynard and his wide receiving corps have relied heavily on the big play, and will try to do so again on Saturday against Utah.
Advantage: Cal

Running Back
John White vs Isi Sofele
White continues to shine against non-Pac 12 opponents as he ripped off another big day against Pitt. He's been invaluable with Utah's inability pick up yards through the air with Jon Hays under center. White is averaging almost 112 yards per game on the ground with 6 touchdowns. Sofele is a small back that is out of Salt Lake City and is looking to continue the pipeline of elite Cal running backs. He's averaging 90.5 yards per game on the ground with an average of 5.3 yards per carry and 4 touchdowns. Sofele also has 10 catches and 2 touchdowns receiving. Utah bottled up Ray Graham last week, who is similar in stature to Sofele.
Advantage: Utah

Wide Receiver
Devonte Christopher, Reggie Dunn, and Dres Anderson vs Keenan Allen, and Marvin Jones
Christopher looks to return this week after missing the Pitt game due to injury. He still leads the team in catches with 23 for an average of 15.3 yards per catch and 2 touchdowns. Anderson has hauled in 18 catches and 2 touchdowns while Dunn has 8 catches for an average of 13.9 yards. The duo of Allen and Jones might be the best in the conference. They both have very good size and speed and will be tough matchup for the Ute corners. The sophomore Allen leads the team with 52 catches for 828 yards and 4 touchdowns. He's also the half-brother of QB Maynard, and finds a lot of balls thrown his way. Jones has 35 catches for an average of 15.1 yards per catch and 3 touchdowns.
Advantage: Cal

Tight End
Kendrick Moeia and Jake Murphy vs Anthony Miller
Murphy has missed time due to injury and has only three catches on the year, all against BYU, with one of those a touchdown. Moeia has missed time as well and hauled in 7 balls. Miller is a senior who has 10 catches and 2 touchdowns this season for Cal.
Advantage: Even

Left Tackle
John Cullen vs Mitchell Schwartz
Schwartz is one of the top left tackles in the country, having started every single possible game in his career to this point (44 total). He's the anchor on a line that has given up only 11 sacks on the year. Schwartz is on multiple watch lists, has great size, and will likely be NFL bound after this season. Cullen has taken a beating this week from fans after his performance on Saturday that including multiple letdowns in pass protection and penalties. He really needs to get his head on straight and start living up to the hype he received before the season. When it all comes together, Cullen is a very good left tackle.
Advantage: Cal

Left Guard
Miles Mason vs Brian Schwenke
Schwenke is a junior with good size and experience having started 17 games in his career. Mason didn't grade out well against Pitt and was part of the left side of the line that broke down often against the Panthers. As the season has gone, and the competition has increased, Mason has started to struggle somewhat. Schwenke is in his second year as a starter, who has also seen time at left guard. He's a mean run blocker.
Advantage: Cal

Center
Tevita Stevens vs Dominic Galas
Stevens continues to be Utah's most consistent offensive lineman, despite a few missed assignments last week. He's becoming more and more of a QB on the field, which is definitely helping Jon Hays. Galas has played in all 31 games possible and made seven starts over the past three seasons.
Advantage: Utah

Right Guard
Sam Brenner vs Justin Cheadle
Brenner was decent against Pitt, excelling more in the run game and opening up lanes for John White, who ran well to the right side, than in the passing game. His quick start to the season has not tapered off and he's been as valuable to this offense as any player on the team. Cheadle is a senior with 28 career starts in 40 games. He's one of the leaders of the team.
Advantage: Cal

Right Tackle
Tony Bergstrom vs Matt Summers-Gavin
Bergstrom is the senior leader of the Utah offense and arguably their best offensive lineman. He looks like he's back to full strength after suffering an injury a few weeks ago against BYU. Summer-Gavin is a junior with 17 starts under his belt.
Advantage: Utah

Defensive End
Derrick Shelby and Joe Kruger vs Trevor Guyton and Ernest Owusu
Derrick Shelby continues to be the Utes best defensive end and had the best game of his career last week, earning him multiple conference and national player of the week honors. Joe Kruger even had a sack and was more active. If the Ute ends can build on last week's performance, and get some pressure on Maynard, they might be able to force him into another multiple interception game. Guyton plays the end spot in Cal's 3-4 defense and has 1.5 sacks on the year with 2 fumble recoveries. Owusu has been a beast with 4.5 tackles for loss,2 and a half sacks, and 2 passes knocked down. The Utah tackles will have their hands full with this duo.
Advantage: Cal

Defensive Tackle
Star Lotulei and James Aiono/Dave Kruger vs Aaron Tipoti
As good as the defensive ends and linebackers were on Saturday, the tackles might have been even better. They continually got a strong push against their counterparts and had easily their best game of the season. Star Lotulelei is getting better every week and is looking unstoppable at times. Tipoti is a first year starter for Cal and has one tackle for loss on the season.
Advantage: Utah

Linebacker
Trevor Reilly, Matt Martinez, and Chaz Walker vs Chris McCain, D.J. Holt, Mychal Kendricks, and David Wilkerson
Mychal Kendricks might be the premier linebacker in the Pac 12, but he's had his arm in a a sling so far this week with an injury and has not practiced. Wilkerson is in a similar boat and has not practiced this week. They're giving up over 132 yards per game on the ground, which is something Utah will try to exploit, but this is still a very talented group. If Kendricks and/or Wilkerson don't go though, Utah will have a significant advantage. The Utah linebackers were at their best last week shutting down Pitt in every single aspect. Reilly continues to be a playmaker, while Walker keeps making tackles.
Advantage: Even

Cornerback
Ryan Lacy and Conroy Black vs Stefan McClure and Steve Williams
Black, Lacy and Mo Lee, who has seen increased time in recent weeks, were stellar against Pitt, locking down their plus sized receives. Cal's receivers aren't quite as big as Pitt's, but they've still got pretty good size. This will probably be the best receiving duo Utah has faced this year, and if last week was any indication, they should be up to the challenge. The Cal corners are young with a true freshman and a sophomore. McClure is the freshman who will be making his first start. He comes in as a very highly rated recruit. Williams is the sophomore who has two career interceptions. Despite Jon Hays limitations throwing the ball downfield, Utah will likely test these two deep at least once.
Advantage: Even

Safety
Eric Rowe and Brian Blechen vs Sean Cathouse, and D.J. Campbell
The safety position seems to have solidified itself now that Brian Blechen is back there. What they sacrifice in speed with Blechen, they make up for in smarts, anticipation, and toughness. Pitt couldn't throw, largely in part because the safeties were doing a great job in helping out the corners. Pitt couldn't run because the safeties were doing a great job in run support. If Rowe keeps developing, and the coaches leave Blechen in the secondary, Utah's safety spot will be much more reliable than it was earlier in the year. They will need to watch out for the big play ability of Allen and Jones though, who like to stretch the field. The senior duo of Cathouse and Campbell is one of the best in the conference. Campbell has great size and seven career starts. He picked off his first career pass this season against Oregon. Cathouse has tremendous size and plenty of experience under his belt. He has two interceptions on the season and seven in his career.
Advantage: Cal

Placekicker
Coleman Peterson vs Giorgio Tavecchio
Peterson is coming off of a 4 for 4 game against Pitt and is 8 of 10 on the season with a long of 45. Tavecchio has been the best kicker in the Pac 12, going 9 of 10 with a long of 54.
Advantage: Cal

Punter
Nick Marsh vs Bryan Anger
Marsh handled all of the punting for Utah last week and is averaging 40.5 per punt with a long of 62. Anger is regarded as one of the best punters in the country with an average of 44.1 yards per punt and a long of 61.
Advantage: Cal

Punt Returns
Griff McNabb vs Marvin Jones
McNabb is as sure handed is it gets, but is averaging only 2 yards per return with a long of 8. Jones is averaging 10.2 yards per punt return with a long of 37.
Advantage: Cal

Kick Returns
Reggie Dunn and Chandler Johnson vs Coleman Edmond and Brendan Bigelow
Dunn is averaging 24.87 yards per return with a long of 39. Chandler got an opportunity last week for the first time and returned 1 kick for 21 yards. Bigelow is averaging 21.5 yards per return with an 88 yarder for a touchdown. Edmond is averaging 18.5 yards per return with a long of 27.
Advantage: Even


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