Position Battles- Oregon State at Utah

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

Jon Hays vs Sean Mannion
Hays is having a rough go of it out there, not because he isn't trying, but because the offensive line isn't protecting him and because his talent level just isn't that of a Pac 12 starting quarterback. Oregon State has a poor defensive line, arguably the worst in the conference, so that should spell some relief for the junior signal caller, who has 3 touchdowns and 7 interceptions on the year. If Hays avoids the turnovers, Utah will win. If not, the Beavers will hang around. Mannion is coming off of a Pac 12 offensive player of the week performance after lighting up Washington State. He's a redshirt freshman who replaced Ryan Katz early in the season and has helped turn around the offense. Mannion is completing 66 percent of his passes with 9 touchdowns and 10 interceptions on the year, while throwing for 280 yards a game. He's been getting better each week, but needs to cut down on the turnovers.
Advantage: Oregon State

Running Back
John White vs Malcolm Agnew
Poor John White. No one wants to block for him, and opposing teams are loading the box to stop the diminutive running back. White comes in averaging just over 101 yards per game on the season, but most of that has come from lesser competition outside of conference, including an FCS team, and a non-BCS team. His in conference struggles are yielding only 53 yards per game and an average of 2.8 yards per carry. If the Utes can't pass, the defense will continue to crowd the line of scrimmage and White will struggle. If he had played in enough games, Oregon State's freshman Malcolm Agnew would be leading the conference in yards per game at 125. He's a little guy in the mold of Jacquizz Rodgers who has been a big spark to the offense and the reason that they've turned around their offensive woes from earlier in the year. Agnew has 4 touchdowns on the season and is averaging 5.7 yards per carry.
Advantage: Even

Wide Receiver
Devonte Christopher, Reggie Dunn, and Dres Anderson vs Markus Wheaton, James Rodgers, Jordan Bishop
Devonte Christopher will be back this week after missing the last two games. His presence alone should help spark the offense and help spread the field. He still leads the team with 23 catches despite missing the last two contests. Kenneth Scott took advantage of Christopher being out and has grabs in the last two games. We even had a Dexter Ransom sighting last week. Dunn and Anderson have slowed down their production with Jon Hays under center, limiting their big play ability. Dunn comes in with 10 catches for 138 yards and no touchdowns while Anderson has 20 catches, 273 yards, and 2 touchdowns. In a conference loaded with talent at the receiver spot, the Beavers are right up towards the top. Wheaton has been a beast on the year with 51 catches for 649 yard, but no touchdowns. Rodgers is one of the most explosive players in the country, but has battled injuries in his career. He's a do everything kind of guy that comes in with 22 catches for 234 yards and 1 touchdown despite missing the first couple of games. Rodgers also carries the ball once in a while and is averaging 9 yards a pop. Bishop has 22 grabs for 322 yards and a touchdown. Keep an eye on true freshman Brandin Cooks as well. The kid has loads of talent.
Advantage: Oregon State

Tight End
Jake Murphy and Kendrick Moeia vs Joe Halahuni and Cloby Prince
Murphy has taken the lead as the team's top tight end, but has only 3 catches and a touchdown to show for it. Moeia has 8 catches for 43 yards on the year. Both players have missed time due to injuries. Halahuni leads the team with 3 touchdown catches while hauling in 19 balls for 142 yards on the season. Prince has 8 catches.
Advantage: Oregon State

Left Tackle
John Cullen vs Mike Remmers
We've made excuses and found reasons as to why John Cullen was having trouble early in the year, whether it be injuries or a lack of focus. It's not clear that he's an average Pac 12 tackle at best. Remmers is a senior with 39 career start. He's one of the best in the Pac 12 and the biggest reason why Oregon State has allowed only 9 sacks this year. Remmers is a former walk-on who moved from right tackle to left tackle in the off season.
Advantage: Oregon State

Left Guard
Miles Mason/Latu Heimuli vs Grant Enger
I said it last week and I'll say it again this week, Miles Mason is struggling. The wear and tear of the season is getting to him, and now the coaches are slotting Heimuli as the possible starter at left guard along with Mason. If it's Latu, then we'll see some new blood that hasn't taken the physical beating Mason has to this point. Heimuli has been serviceable when out there, but is still a work in progress. Enger is a first year starter who was thrust into the starting spot early in the year after Josh Andrews went down.
Advantage: Even

Tevita Stevens vs Grant Johnson
Stevens had arguably his worst game as a Ute last week against Cal, getting beat often. He graded out poorly, but should bounce back against a poor OSU interior defensive line. Johnson is a senior who has made 32 career starts. He was injured last week and may end up sitting out against Utah. If he misses the game, sophomore Geoff Garner will likely take his spot.
Advantage: Oregon State

Right Guard
Sam Brenner vs Burke Ellis
Each week we say the same thing about Brenner, and that's that he has been the most consistent offensive lineman over the course of the season. You know exactly what you're getting out of Sam, and that's solid play. Ellis is a senior and a former walk-on. He's made 19 career starts.
Advantage: Even

Right Tackle
Tony Bergstrom vs Colin Kelley
Bergstrom struggled again last week and doesn't look like the All Conference caliber player he was being touted as before the season. He needs to be better and start leading this team with his play on the field. Kelly is a first year starter with good size at 6-5, 295, and athleticism.
Advantage: Utah

Defensive End
Derrick Shelby and Joe Kruger vs Dylan Wynn and Scott Crichton
Kruger has come to life of late, getting pressure on the QB with more consistency and picking up sacks in back to back games. He's also notched 3.5 tackles for loss. Shelby has been the Utes' best defensive end on the season with 5.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, 5 pass breakups, 1 interception, 1 fumble recovery, and 2 touchdowns. Both Crichton and Wynn are freshman and have been very effective. Crichton leads the conference with 10 tackles for loss, to go along with 4 sacks. He forced 4 fumbles in one game earlier in the year, a school record. Wynn is a true freshman who has made two starts on the season. He has two and a half tackles for loss, and has recovered an astounding 5 fumbles, already a school record for one season. Advantage: Even

Defensive Tackle
Star Lotulei and James Aiono/Dave Kruger vs Kevin Frahm and Andrew Seumalo
Star Lotulelei is unbelievably good. He could make a case as the best defensive tackle in the conference. We'll leave it at that. Kruger and Aiono don't have eye popping stats, but have been serviceable next to Lotulelei combining for 1.5 tackles for loss and a sack. Frahm is a senior with 17 career starts and is one of the leaders on defense. Seumalo has 1 sack on the year and 2 tackles for loss. He's also blocked two kicks on special teams.
Advantage: Utah

Trevor Reilly, Matt Martinez, and Chaz Walker vs Cameron Collins, Feti Unga, Michael Doctor
Reilly continues to put up big numbers with sacks and tackles for loss, piling up 5 and 9 respectively, both numbers leading the team. Walker has been a tackling machine, but has been pushed out of plays at times by bigger stronger blockers. Martinez has 39 tackles on the year and 2 sacks. Doctor and Unga are tied for the team lead with 45 tackles each while also pitching in a sack apiece. Collins is the senior most member of the linebackers. He has 27 tackles on the year, but may miss the Utah game with an injury. Junior Reuben Robinson would start in his place.
Advantage: Utah

Ryan Lacy/Mo Lee and Conroy Black vs Jordan Poyer and Rashaad Reynolds
Mo Lee now seems to be the preferred corner over Ryan Lacy and opposite Conroy Black. Lee brings a lot more size to the table than Lacy as they matchup with bigger Pac 12 receivers. Oregon State's receivers aren't as big as most Pac 12 schools, but they're fast, meaning Lacy could end up see more time this week to counter that speed. Black continues to look like an elite corner that teams will not throw at. The Oregon State corners have't been very good this year, giving up over 245 yards per game through the air and 15 touchdowns, but they have been opportunistic in creating turnovers. Poyer is a ballhawk with 3 interceptions and 10 pass breakups on the season. Reynolds has 1 pick. If Jon Hays doesn't reel in his throws and make the smart pass, these two will take advantage.
Advantage: Even

Eric Rowe and Brian Blechen vs Anthony Watkins and Lance Mitchell
Eric Rowe had his best game as a Ute against Cal and looks to be growing into his position very well. He's showing better awareness in coverage and his help in run support is definitely improved. Blechen has definitely solidified the safety spot with his move back there from linebacker. He's another ballhawk who is always making plays and is one of the leaders of the defense, albeit a quiet one who lets his play do the talking. Mitchell and Watkins are two well built safeties, each easily over 200 pounds. Mitchell is a senior with 30 career starts and 6 career interceptions. Watkins is a first year starter who has battled injuries in his career, but has a lot of upside.
Advantage: Even

Coleman Peterson vs Trevor Romaine
Peterson is 9 of 11 this year with a long of 45. Romaine is 12 of 17 on the year with a long of 45 as well.
Advantage: Even

Sean Sellwood vs Johnny Hekker
Sellwood resumed the punting duties last week and is averaging 42.7 yards per punt with a long of 57. Hekker is averaging 42.8 yards per punt with a long of 65.
Advantage: Even

Punt Returns
Griff McNabb/Charles Henderson vs Jordan Poyer
McNabb is averaging 3.2 yards per return with a long of 18. Poyer is averaging 17.5 yards per punt return with an 85 yarder taken back for a touchdown.
Advantage: Oregon State

Kick Returns
Reggie Dunn and Quinton Pedroza vs Jordan Poyer and Malcolm Marable
Dunn is averaging 25.4 per return with a long of 45 while Pedroza will be getting his first crack at returning kicks. Poyer is averaging 23 yards per kick return with a long of 57. Marable is averaging 25.2 with a long of 37.
Advantage: Even

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