Position Battles- Utah at Washington State

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

Jon Hays vs Marshall Lobbestael of Connor Halliday
Who does Jon Hays think he is? Despite his physical limitations, the guy has won three straight games, all over Pac 12 opponents, and won each of those comfortably. He's looking like the Utes' version of Tim Tebow, NFL edition. Not a lot of yards or production, but he's getting the job done and his team is getting W's. He's someone who kept this team in contention for a Pac 12 South title. Hays has 8 touchdowns and 7 interceptions on the year while throwing for 119 yards per game. Connor Halliday is still an unknown. Yeah, he threw for almost 500 yards last week in his first extensive collegiate action as a freshman, but now he's facing the Utah defense. Lobbastael may end up getting the start as well, and has been very good in his first year as a starter. Regardless of who has been at QB for the Cougars, whether it be Jeff Tuel, Lobbestael or Halliday, the Wazzu offense has been moving the ball well through the air.
Advantage: Washington State

Running Back
John White vs Rickey Galvin and Carl Winston
We can all agree that LaMichael James is the most dangerous running back in the Pac 12, but does anyone grind out yards better than John White? Three straight 100 yard games, and six on the year, White is climbing the single season Utah rushing record charts, with a legitimate shot to own the record with 3 (and possibly 4) games left to play this year. He's averaging almost 120 per game at 5 yards per carry and 12 touchdowns. Galvin and Winston split the carries for the Cougars with both generally getting around 12 per game. Winston is a 5-8, 200 pounds back who averages 3.8 yards a carry and has 4 touchdowns. Galvin is a smaller back who averages 5.5 yards per carry and has 5 touchdowns. Most of their offense is going to be generated through the air, so the backs, especially against Utah, won't be a huge focal point.
Advantage: Utah

Wide Receiver
Devonte Christopher, Reggie Dunn, and Dres Anderson vs Jared Karstetter, Isiah Barton, and Marquess Wilson
They didn't have a ton of production last week, and they haven't had much since Jordan Wynn went down, but when called upon, the Utah receivers are delivering. Christopher still leads the team with 29 catches at 15.5 yards per catch and 4 touchdowns. Anderson has 22 catches at 15.5 yards per grab and 3 touchdowns, while Dunn has hauled in 14 for 14.6 and 1 TD. He continues to remain a serious threat in the run game, as demonstrated last week against UCLA. Despite all of the talent in the Pac 12, Wilson might be the best receiver the conference currently has. He has 67 catches for 1197 yards (already a school record) and 9 touchdowns. Barton has 49 catches at an average of 13 yards a catch and 5 touchdowns. Karstetter has 45 catches for 507 yards and 4 touchdowns. This is a very solid receiving group.
Advantage: Washington State

Tight End
Jake Murphy and Kendrick Moeia vs Andrei Lintz
Where have the tight ends gone for Utah? The production has dropped in recent weeks with almost no balls thrown their way. Moeia and Murphy have combined for 13 catches and a touchdown. Lintz has hauled in 5 balls and a touchdown on the year for Washington State.
Advantage: Utah

Left Tackle
John Cullen vs David Gonzales
This is the John Cullen we thought we'd see. Nasty and mean, he's finally in a groove, having eliminated the penalties that plagued him earlier in the year and helping open big holes for John White. Gonzeles is a senior with good height at 6-6, but not a lot of weight at under 290 pounds. He's a JC transfer who is in his second season as a starter.
Advantage: Even

Left Guard
Miles Mason vs John Fullington
Mason was solid last week and, like the rest of the line, seems to have found his groove over the past few games. The JC transfer also seems to have found his second wind after struggling in the middle of the season. Fullington is an undersized sophomore who started 6 games as a freshman and is now entrenched as the full time starter.
Advantage: Washington State

Tevita Stevens vs Matt Goetz
Stevens has really rounded in to form as the center on this team, with much more consistent play over the 3 game winning steak. Goetz is a sophomore JC transfer who is in his first year as a starter at the FBS level.
Advantage: Utah

Right Guard
Sam Brenner vs B.J. Guerra
Brenner could make a case for as an all Pac 12 offensive lineman. The junior probably won't get the recognition he deserves because he doesn't play for USC or Stanford, but the overall body of his work this year has been everything the coaching staff could have hoped for. Guerra is in his third season as a starter and was an all Pac 10 performer in 2010. He's the top player on the line.
Advantage: Washington State

Right Tackle
Tony Bergstrom vs Dan Spitz
Bergstrom has finally rounded into the form we thought we'd see at the beginning of the season. The senior has regained his footing as an elite lineman,Spitz started as a freshman in 2009 on the defensive side of the ball, then missed the 2010 season after moving over to offense. He's now back and starting on the offensive line with good size at 6-6, and 302 pounds.
Advantage: Utah

Defensive End
Derrick Shelby and Joe Kruger vs Adam Coerper and Travis Long Shelby has been absent from the stat column the last couple of weeks, but is still holding his own in both run support and in passing situation. His numbers of 4 sacks and 7 tackles for loss will generate some all conference love. Kruger picked up his third sack of the season against UCLA to go along with 5 tackles for loss. He's been getting better as the season has gone along. Long is one of the leaders of the defense and a returning all conference performer. He's a junior who's been starting since his freshman year. Long is a pass rushing specialist who has 3 sacks and 8.5 tackles for loss, but has the ability to get in the backfield on every play. Coerper is a junior who hasn't played a ton and has 9 tackles on the season.

Advantage: Utah

Defensive Tackle
Star Lotulei and Tevita Finau/Dave Kruger vs Brandon Rankin and Anthony Laurenzi
Lotulelei continues his pursuit of all Pac 12 honors with 7 tackles for loss and a sack. Week in and week out, he's been the Utes best defensive player on the year. Finau has been much visible in the past couple of weeks with increased time, making the most of it with big time plays. He has 3 sacks on the year. Kruger has 1 sack and 1.5 tackles for loss in 2011. Laurenzi is a junior who has been a part time starter since his freshman year, before taking over the full time gig this season. He has 5.5 tackles for loss on the season. Rankin is a senior who started 8 games in 2010 and has 2.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks in 2011.
Advantage: Utah

Trevor Reilly, Matt Martinez, and Chaz Walker vs Sekope Kaufusi, C.J. Mizell, and Alex Hoffman-Ellis The Utah linebackers will likely not be tested much by the Washington State run game, but how well they do in coverage will go a long ways towards determining who wins this game. If Walker, Reilly, and Martinez have issues helping cover the Wazzu receivers over the middle when dropping into coverage, the Cougars will have a much better chance at pulling off the upset. Wazzu and the linebacking corps are giving up 155 yards per game on the ground, meaning John White shouldn't have any trouble going over 100 on the day. Hoffman-Ellis is a senior leads the team in tackles with 72, including 8 tackles for loss and 2 sacks. He's the leader of the defense. Mizell is a sophomore who started 6 games last season. He is third on the team in tackles with 51 including 3 tackles for loss and 2 sacks, while Kaufusi is another sophomore who has 42 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, and 2 sacks.
Advantage: Utah

Ryan Lacy/Mo Lee and Conroy Black vs Damante Horton and Nolan Washington
Black is making a strong case as an All Pac 12 cornerback after his back to back performances against Arizona and UCLA, including a game clinching touchdown return against the Bruins. Lee and Lacy have been a solid duo across from Black, and with the Cougars employee multiple three and four receiver sets, they'll be busy. Horton is a sophomore with decent size who is in his first season as a starter. He has a team leading 4 interceptions on the year. Washington is another sophomore who started all twelve games last season and has a high ceiling. and doesn't have a lot of balls thrown his way. He has 1 career interception.
Advantage: Utah

Eric Rowe and Brian Blechen vs Deone Bucannon and Tyree Toomer
Blechen and Rowe had their best game of the year last season, especially Rowe, who looks like he's ready to be an All Pac 12 safety next season. Blechen continues to be the bigger hit and big play guy he was last season, despite the move to linebacker, and then back again to safety. Bucannon is sophomore who started 8 games a true freshman. He has 3 interceptions on the season. Toomer is a junior who started as a true freshman before missing the 2009 season with an injury. He has 26 career starts and 4 career sacks.
Advantage: Utah

Coleman Peterson vs Andrew Furney
Peterson has been steady for the Utes going 14 of 18 on the season with a long of 48. Furney is 12 of 14 with a long of 51.
Advantage: Washington State

Sean Sellwood vs Dan Wagner
Wagner is averaging 40.7 yards per punt with a long of 59. Sellwood had another solid week last week and is averaging 43.9 with a long of 67.
Advantage: Utah

Punt Returns
Griff McNabb vs Leon Brooks
Brooks is averaging 4.5 yards per return with a long of 8. McNabb is averaging 5.6 per return with a long of 19.
Advantage: Even

Kick Returns
Reggie Dunn vs Isiah Barton
Dunn is averaging 25.5 yards per return with a long of 45 while Barton is at 24.7 with a long of 55.
Advantage: Even

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