Utah QB and Wide Receivers vs Oregon State Defensive Backs
Through the first two games of 2013, Travis Wilson has been very impressive, racking up 566 yards, 5 touchdowns and zero interceptions. Also rushing for 102 yards and 2 touchdowns, Wilson has looked good in all aspects of the game.
Oregon State has not had much luck defending the pass this season, ranking 111th in the nation in passing defense. Raashad Reynolds, one of the starters at corner for the Beavers, is a very good corner who will matchup with the Utah receivers well. In addition to Reynolds, Sean Martin, Steven Nelson and Larry Scott are the other key contributors at corner who will be looking to wreak havoc downfield on Saturday night. Safeties Tyrequek Zimmerman and Ryan Murphy are two very athletic players with great playmaking ability. Look for both Zimmerman and Murphy to make a lot of great plays on the ball, as these two will be gunning for any misthrown balls by Wilson.
Despite only playing part of the game last week due to the Utes' 49-0 lead at half, the receivers were still able to put up some big numbers with both Dres Anderson and Sean Fitzgerald averaging over 25 yards per reception. Although there were some drops, it was still an impressive outing by the receivers. Things will be much tougher against Oregon State, as the defensive backs all have decent size and are much more athletic than what the Ute receivers faced against Weber.
With the continued high level of play from WIlson, I expect the Utes to have success throwing the ball against the Beavers. If Wilson is able mix it up well and make a couple big runs to keep the defense honest. I expect another good showing from Wilson and the receivers.
Utah Running Backs and Tight Ends vs Oregon State Linebackers
The multi-talented group of Kelvin York, James "Bubba" Poole, Lucky Radley and Karl Williams continue to give the Utes a lot of different options at running back. Although the bulk of the carries last week were given to Radley who rushed the ball 13 times for 111 yards and 2 TD's, expect the carries to be spread amongst the backs on Saturday as the Utes most likely will not have the luxury of a 49-0 lead at halftime.
Tight ends Jake Murphy and Westlee Tonga should play a big role against the Beavers, as I anticipate them both playing a much larger role than they have the previous two games.
Starting linebacker Michael Doctor, the anchor of this defense, will not be out there for OSU this week as he went down with a broken foot in last weeks game against Hawaii. With Doctor not being in the lineup against the Utes, junior linebacker D.J. Alexander could be back on the field for the Beavs as has been nursing a sprained knee and was unable to play the first two games of the season.
Utah Offensive Line vs Oregon State Defensive Line
Utah's offensive line has done a relatively good job thus far in 2013. With that being said, they have underperformed to their ability and need to be more consistent throughout the rest of the season. This offensive line has a ton of potential starting with left tackle Jeremiah Poutasi. If the Utes' offense wants to have success moving the ball against Oregon State, it all starts with the O-Line.
After a rough game against Eastern Washington in week 1, the Beavers defensive line took a step forward against Hawaii, limiting the Warriors to just 69 yards on the ground and 2.8 yards per carry. Though they did look better in week 2, they are going to be going up against a much better offensive line and group of running backs when they face the Utes.
Oregon State QB and Wide Receivers vs Utah Defensive Backs
Junior quarterback Sean Mannion leads the charge for the Beavers' offense and has already racked up nearly 800 yards and 7 touchdowns through the air this season. With a QBR of 181.2 and a RAW QBR of 90.5, it goes to show anybody who hasn't seen Mannion play before how good this kid is. With a similar build to Utah's Travis Wilson, Mannion is a tall quarterback who does a great job at watching the play develop and hitting the open man downfield. With plenty of experience and success playing quarterback for the Beavers, Mannion (who is currently the fourth all-time leader at OSU for yards gained with 6,568) is more than capable of picking apart Utah's defensive backs and torching them through the air. What's even worse for the Utes, Mannion is equipped with some great threats to throw the ball to in receiver Brandin Cooks and running back Storm Woods, who does an excellent job catching the ball out of the backfield. Brandin Cooks is one of the best receivers the Utes will face all season, and will take a team effort to slow this kid down. Possessing the speed and agility to take it to the house each time he touches the ball, the Utah DB's cannot afford to let Cooks get in the open field.
Utah's defensive backs looked improved in week 2 from the unacceptable performance they had in week 1, where they allowed USU to throw for 314 yards against them. To their credit, Chuckie Keeton is one heck of a quarterback and was making NFL caliber throws all game long. With that being said, allowing a team to torch you for 300+ yards through the air is not going to win you many ball games. These DB's will be facing their second high caliber quarterback of the season this week in Sean Mannion. If they are unable to step up their game and slow Mannion and these receivers down, then the Utes are going to be in for one long night.
Edge: Oregon State
Oregon State Running Backs and Tight Ends vs Utah Linebackers
Storm Woods is the lead back for Oregon State and is another big time playmaker that is capable of embarrassing opposing defenses. While Woods hasn't done all that much on the ground this season (118 rushing yards with a 3.6 yards per carry average), he has made a big impact in the passing game ranking second on the team in receptions (15) and yards (139). With the injuries to the Beavers' offensive line, Woods may continue to have a difficult time running the ball against the Utah defense, but containing him from making big plays in both the rushing and passing game will be a big challenge.
So far, Utah's linebackers have done a pretty decent job defending the run, and are allowing opposing offenses just 2.95 yards per carry. Jared Norris, V.J. Fehoko and Jacoby Hale are in for a much more difficult time matching up against Storm Woods and the rest of this Beaver offense compared to the Weber State offense they matched up against last week. Between containing Woods, helping out in coverage, or putting pressure on Mannion, these linebackers must continue to play well in order to stop this high powered offense of Oregon State.
Oregon State Offensive Line vs Utah Defensive Line
The Beavers will be playing without their starting right guard Roman Sapolu and starting right tackle Grant Enger due to injuries they suffered against Hawaii. Pair that with a number of other issues, and Oregon State will likely be left with just two backups when they face the Utes. Already having blocking issues before Sapolu and Enger went down, this offensive line has to be the one area that the Utah coaches know they can exploit.
Combine the depleted offensive line of the Beavers with the very talented defensive line of the Utes and the result is one big advantage for Utah. The right side of Oregon State's line is going to be something the Utes can attack all game long and likely be very successful doing so. If Utah is going to stop Mannion and his offense from slinging the ball around with ease like they have done in their first two games of the season, the defensive line is what's going to get this done. Nate Orchard, Trevor Reilly, Tenny Palepoi and the rest of the defensive linemen that will play are the key to a Utah victory this week against Oregon State.
Unit Matchups: Utah vs Oregon State
Ute Zone Top Stories
Analysis: Utes take down HuskiesUtah continued its streak of dominant play with a big win in Seattle.
Ute Zone9:32 AM
Breaking Down the 2017 Football ScheduleTom Hackett takes a closer look at Utah's schedule for 2017 and what fans should expect
Ute ZoneFriday at 8:42 PM
Florida wideout to visit UtahFlorida wideout has Utah in his top three. A trip to Salt Lake City is next.
Ute ZoneThursday at 4:20 PM
UteZone Big Board: 1/18UteZone breaks down the top prospects left on Utah's board
Ute ZoneThursday at 7:24 AM
Analysis: Utes blow out CougsUtah dominated Washington State from the start for a big Pac-12 road win
Ute ZoneThursday at 6:01 AM