Utah QB and Wide Receivers vs Oregon State Defensive Backs
Now we know that it's going to be Travis Wilson under center going forward. Wilson was solid against UCLA in his first career start throwing for 220 yards on 23 of 33 passes. The gameplan was fairly simple for him and you'd expect the Utah coaches to add new wrinkles this week, but against an Oregon State defense that is one of the best in the conference, simple may be better.
Dres Anderson had the best game of his career against UCLA with 9 catches and looks like he's ready to be the new go-to receiver for Wilson. Anderson will need to stretch the field with his speed and try to open things up for the like of Devonte Christopher, Luke Matthews, and Kenneth Scott to make plays.
Oregon State's Jordan Poyer is a man. He's probably the best defensive back in the conference and has had an all american type season with 5 interceptions already on the year. An NFL corner, Poyer has a great nose for the ball and shuts down everyone that he lines up against. Opposite Poyer is junior Rashaad Reynolds, who has been pretty good in his own right. Reynolds leads the team in pass breakups with 8 to go along with 2 picks.
Free safety Ryan Murphy leads the team in tackles with 31 while strong safety Tyrequek Zimmerman is fourth on the team in tackles.
Oregon State has been prone to allowing some big games through the air, giving up over 291 yards per game, including 300+ last week to a BYU team with a below average quarterback. Wilson will likely be able to go over 200 yards in the game throwing the ball.
Utah Offensive Line vs Oregon State Defensive Line
We finally have some consistency on the offensive for Utah in terms of personel and play. The shotgun formation has made them much more effective in both run blocking and pass blocking. This still is far from a good unit, but the new offense fits their abilities much more.
They'll face one of the conference's top pass rusher in Scott Crichton. Crichton has 8 sacks on the year to go with 11 tackles for loss. Utah will have to find a way to neutralize Crichton's effectiveness in stopping both the pass and the run. Crichton's counterpart at defensive end is another sophomore in Dylan Wynn who was 1 sack so far in 2012.
At the DT spots are seniors Castro Masaniai and Andrew Seumalo. Masaniai is a big kid at 6-3, 354 pounds. They have combined for 4 tackles for loss and 2 sacks. The two stout tackles are a big reason that the Beavers are giving up only 70 yards per game on the ground.
Advantage: Oregon State
Utah Running Backs and Tight Ends vs Oregon State Linebackers
We've been hearing it for week that Utah would be trying to get more out of the running game, but until the coaches show it on the field, it's hard to believe they'll actually do it, and this may not be the game to ground and pound it. Oregon State's run defense is at the top of the conference allowing only yards per game.
John White needs more touches, as does Kelvin York. If we see anything less than 25 carries between the two, Utah will lose this game. They need to control the clock by grinding out yards with their most effective weapons against an OSU offense that can put up points quickly.
The tight end groups continues to be used somewhat sparingly with Jake Murphy the only real threat in the passing game over the past couple of weeks.
Their may not be a more under appreciated group of players in the Pac 12 than the Oregon State linebackers. Giving up only 70 yards per game on the ground, their individual stats aren't tremendous, but they're a workman-like group. Michael Doctor leads the unit with 25 tackles in 2012.
Advantage: Oregon State
Oregon State Quarterback and Wide Receivers vs Utah Secondary
Another week. Another average to poor performance out of the secondary. There was more consistency, but a few bad angles by the safeties, and being step slow here and there, particularly by Eric Rowe on the long Shaw Evans touchdown, are keeping Blechen and Rowe from being productive as a whole.
Oregon State is going to air it out with Vaz and they have two of the top receivers in the conference in Markus Wheaton and Brandin Cooks. Cooks can fly and is one of the fastest players in the conference. He stretches the field as well as any receiver in the Pac 12 as evidenced by his yards per catch and touchdowns.
Vaz is still inexperienced with only 1 start under his belt, and Utah needs to take advantage of that with at least one interception. The defensive backs have picked off only one pass this season, and that's not nearly enough.
Advantage: Oregon State
Oregon State Offensive Line vs Utah Defensive Line
The Utah defensive line has only 10 sacks this year. 10!!!! In 6 games!!!! That's far from enough. Our thoughts of this being one of the top lines in the country at the start of the season were off-course and that's mainly because they aren't generating enough of a pass rush, and aren't taking down the quarterbacks when they get there. With Star Lotulelei often taking up 2 and 3 blockers at a time, the Utes need more pressure. They'll get a boost this week with Joe Kruger healthy again.
Oregon State is going to counter that line with an offensive line that has allowed only 11 sacks on the year. Tackles Michael Philip and Colin Kelly are pretty good ones, while true freshman center Isaac Seumalo is a future all american.
Oregon State Running Backs and Tight Ends vs Utah Linebackers
Oregon State doesn't have a marquee back or anyone that is going to scare the Utes in the running game. Storm Woods is the starter and has been adequate on the year averaging close to 80 yards per game with 3 touchdowns. Backup Malcom Agnew will also get carries and is averaging just over 30 yards per game. Oregon State isn't likely to break any long ones with their longest run of the season being a 30 yarder from Agnew.
Again, who Utah throws out at linebacker is somewhat of a mystery until the opening snap. Jacoby Hale needs to be out there as he's been the best Utah linebacker over the past couple of weeks. His speed is a necessity against Pac 12 offenses. A combination of Reshawn Hooker, LT Filiaga, and Trevor Reilly are your likely mix of starters along with possibly Hale. The linebackers haven't been bad in stopping the run, but after seeing UCLA's Brett Hundley slice them up when passing plays break down, Oregon State may have something to build on and attempt to take advantage of it in some way.
Tight end Colby Smith is fourth on the team in catches with 11 for just under 100 yards on the season. With Utah's inability to defend passes over the middle, Smith may be ready for a big day.
Advantage: Oregon State
Unit Matchups: Utah at Oregon State
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