Position Battles- Colorado at Utah

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

Quarterback
Jon Hays vs Tyler Hansen
Hays is looking like a true winner. He has awful in the first half against Washington State, but responded with arguably his best half in the second, leading the Utes to the overtime win. He's not going to win games on his own, but he's not losing them right now either, and that's all they want out of the JC signal caller. Hansen has been a part time starter since his freshman year, but has had the position all to himself as a senior, responding with his best year statistically. With 19 touchdowns and only 10 interceptions in 2011, he has the ability to make plays, especially with his talented receiving corps. Hansen is also fairly mobile the ability to get outside the pocket and make some noise with his feet.
Advantage: Colorado

Running Back
John White vs Rodney Stewart
John White is going to go down as one of the great backs in Utah history, and his 2011 season might end up being the greatest season ever by a Ute ball carrier. He continues to carry the rock an insane number of times each week to offset the poor passing attack. White is 5th in the country in rushing with 1,377 yards. He leads the Pac 12 in rushing touchdowns as well with 14. Colorado could present the opportunity for a 200 yard day. Stewart is a tiny back, but has been putting up yards for years. The senior is in his fourth year as a starter and is coming off of a 1,300 yard season. He hasn't had the same success this year, at only 875 yards and 4 touchdowns. Stewart does lead the team in catches though with 43.
Advantage: Utah

Wide Receiver
DeVonte Christopher, Reggie Dunn, and Dres Anderson vs Tony Clemons, Paul Richardson
Christopher continues to lead the receivers with 34 catches on the year for 533 yards and 4 touchdowns. This could be his last game at Rice-Eccles if he decides to make himself available for the NFL draft. Dunn still isn't doing much catching the ball, but his end arounds each week keep picking up yards. He has 14 catches on the year and 1 touchdown. Anderson has slowed down in recent weeks, but still has 22 catches for 342 yards and 3 touchdowns. Richardson is a speedster who has 34 catches on the season at 15 yards per catch and 5 touchdowns. He has missed time this year with injuries. Clemons has 39 catches for 500 plus yards and 8 touchdowns.
Advantage: Even

Tight End
Jake Murphy and Kendrick Moeia vs Ryan Deehan and Matt Barr
Moeia and Murphy have combined for catches and touchdowns in 2011. Barr has only 1 catch on the season.
Advantage: Utah

Left Tackle
John Cullen vs David Bakhtiari
Cullen had a few issues on Saturday with penalties, but has made dramatic improvements to his game since the middle of the season. Bakhitiari is one of the top left tackles in the conference despite being only a sophomore.
Advantage: Colorado

Left Guard
Miles Mason vs Ethan Adkins
Mason keeps plugging along, getting better each game, and filling a hole that the Utes desperately needed filled when the season started. Adkins is a senior and an all conference candidate. He's allowed only 1 sack all season.
Advantage: Colorado

Center
Tevita Stevens vs Gus Handler
Stevens has made great strides in his first year at the center spot from game one through game 11. He'll be an all conference candidate next season. Handler is a sophomore who is in his first year as a starter having taken over the spot in the fourth game of the year.
Advantage: Utah

Right Guard
Sam Brenner vs Ryan Miller
Brenner has been a great surprise this season and continues to be a consistent and reliable lineman. The junior won't get all conference love, but he could be in line to get some heading in to next season. In a conference filled with tremendous offensive linemen, Miller might be the best in the bunch. He's got great size and will be in the NFL next season.
Advantage: Colorado

Right Tackle
Tony Bergstrom vs Ryan Dannewitz
Bergstrom has really turned his season around after a less than stellar start. The senior has been a big reason why the Utes have won four straight games. Dannewitz is a junior who had not played much before this year, but took over the starting job a few games into the season. He has good size at 6-6, 295 pounds.
Advantage: Utah

Defensive End
Derrick Shelby and Joe Kruger vs Will Pericak and David Goldberg
Shelby and Kruger didn't get a sack last week, but they were able to get pressure on the Wazzu QB and help force him into four interceptions. Shelby has 4 sacks and 7 tackles for loss while Kruger has 3 sacks and 5 tackles for loss. Pericack is a junior and an absolute monster of a man. He has 57 tackles on the year. Goldberg is a senior who is more in the mold of a linebacker than a defensive end.
Advantage: Even

Defensive Tackle
Star Lotulei and Tevita Finau/Dave Kruger vs Curtis Cunningham
Lotulelei continues to dominate opposing offensive lines. The stats don't show it with only tackles for loss and sacks, but he's been arguably the best DT in the conference in 2011. Kruger has 1.5 tackles for loss and 1 sack while Finau has 3 sacks and 4 tackles for loss. Cunningham is the rock in the middle. He's a senior, but is still looking for his first sack and tackle for loss. <> Advantage: Utah

Linebacker
Trevor Reilly, Matt Martinez, and Chaz Walker vs Derrick Webb, Jon Major, Patrick Mahnke, and Josh Hartigan
The Utah linebackers had another solid day last week, and will be a handful for Rodney Stewart. He'll be hard pressed to break 100 yards. Reilly has been the big play guy on the year with 5 sacks and 9 tackles for loss. Walker leads the team in tackles with 87 while Martinez has 67 tackles and 2 interceptions. Major leads the team in tackles with 76. He's a junior. Hartigan is a senior who has missed some time this year, but does have 6 sacks. Mahnke is an undersized senior who has 52 tackles and 2.5 sacks. Webb is a sophomore who has 49 tackles. This unit is not very good and has been run over all season, giving up almost 200 yards per game, including 295+ to Washington, Oregon, and UCLA.
Advantage: Utah

Cornerback
Ryan Lacy/Mo Lee and Conroy Black vs Greg Henderson and Travis Sandersfeld
The Utah corners have been ballhawks the last couple of weeks as Mo Lee and Conroy Black have been picking off everything, while also help shutting down opposing teams' passing games. Black has 4 interceptions on the year, while Lee and Lacy have 3 and 2 interceptions, respectively. Sandersfeld is a senior who has only played part time this year and has 1 pick. Henderson is a freshman who has one interception.
Advantage: Even

Safety
Eric Rowe and Brian Blechen vs Terrel Smith and Ray Polk
Rowe is turning into a real player right before our eyes. He had another solid game last week (although a few angles he took in run support were questionable) which included his first career interception. Blechen continues to be a solid presence in the backfield since his move from linebacker. The sophomore has been stellar in run support while providing a veteran role and teaching Rowe. Polk is a junior with 74 tackles and in interception this season. Smith is a sophomore with 1 pick and 36 tackles in 2011.
Advantage: Utah

Placekicker
Coleman Peterson vs Will Oliver
Peterson is 17 of 21 on the season with a long of 48. He's been named Pac 12 special teams player of the week twice. Oliver is a freshman who is 10 of 15 on the year with a long of 52. He has missed two extra points.
Advantage: Utah

Punter
Sean Sellwood vs Daragh O'Neill
Sellwood is averaging 43.3 yards per punt with a long of 67. O'Neill, who can punt with both feet, is averaging 42.9 this season and has a long of 57.
Advantage: Utah

Punt Returns
Griff McNabb vs Keenan Canty
McNabb is averaging 5.3 yards per return with a long of 19. Canty is averaging 5.7 with a long of 12 on the season.
Advantage: Even

Kick Returns
Reggie Dunn vs Keenan Canty and Tony Jones
Dunn is averaging 23.8 yards per return with a long of 45. Canty's returns bring an average of yards 17.3 while Jones is at 17.5. Poor numbers
Advantage: Utah


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