Game Matchups: Utah at Colorado

Who has the edge in each matchup for Saturday's game? We have the breakdowns

Utah Quarterbacks and Wide Receivers vs Colorado Secondary
Travis Wilson generally follows up a bad performance with a decent one. As long as he isn't turning the ball over this week, the Utes should have success through the air with Clay, Scott, and Tonga.

Why? Colorado's pass defense can be had. They give up 251 yards per game passing, and a ridiculous 12.6 yards per pass completion with a sorry 3 interceptions total on the season. DB Chidobe Awuzie as out is Tedric Thompson. Senior corner Greg Henderson has a team leading 14 pass breakups. Kenneth Crawley has 12 pass breakups. With all of the injuries, this is probably the worst secondary in the conference.
Edge: Utah (Ithink)

Utah Running Backs and Tight Ends vs Colorado Linebackers
Devontae Booker had a big bounce-back game against Arizona running the ball and continues to be a target in the passing game. Against a porous Colorado defense, he could go wild.

Colorado's strength on D could be the linebacking corps with Kenneth Olugbode and Adison Gillam, although as a whole, they've still had issues in giving up 211 yards per game on the ground. They lead the team in tackles with 74 and 69 respectively. Woodson Greer will likely play more in Colorado's 4-3. They generally run a nickel D, but with Utah's propensity for running the ball, expect more 4-3 looks.
Edge: Utah

Utah Offensive Line vs Colorado Defensive Line
This is one of the more favorable matchups for the Utah offensive line all season. They've made it through the season healthy for the most part and will look to finish off the season strong after an inconsistent performance against Arizona.

Colorado has only 20 sacks on the season and gives up 39 points per game, largely because the defensive line is young and hasn't done much. Defensive end Derek McCartney leads the team with 4 sacks and Jimmy Gilbert has 2. Inside, Josh Tupou is a load at 6-3, 325 pounds. Utah should be licking their chops at this matchup.
Edge: Utah

Colorado Quarterbacks and Wide Receivers vs Utah Secondary
Looks like Sefo Liaufau will get the nod this week after the Jordan Gehrke experiment failed miserably last week in his first start. Liufau has had the ultimate up and down season this year with a school record 27 touchdown passes, but also throwing 14 interceptions. He's thrown for 3013 yards on the year and is a big bodied kid that can be hard to take down at times, but isn't the biggest runner with only 11 yards per game. He also has 2 catches on the year with 1 touchdown. Liufau's favorite target is Nelson Spruce, who might be the best receivers the Utes have faced all season. Spruce is tied for the lead in the nation with 101 catches on the year. Outside of last week's 2 catch performance against Oregon, Spruce has caught at least 6 balls in every game including 19 with 3 TDs against Cal. He's a tremendous route runner, has great hands, and goes up and gets the ball well. Hatfield will probably get the nod. Shay Field is option number 2 with 46 catches on the year while the diminutive D.D. Goodson has 37 grabs.

Outside of Hatfield, it's hard to have much trust in Utah's secondary if the line isn't getting pressure. That may not be much of an issue this week though against Colorado. Some takeaways would be nice on the road. That hasn't happened a ton from the corners as Eric Rowe is the only one with an interception this season. While they'll be tested by the receivers, Liufau is a QB that they can force a few turnovers from, and that might help the confidence of Rowe, Orphey, and Thomas this week.
Edge: Colorado

Colorado Running Backs and Tight Ends vs Utah Linebackers
Michael Adkins leads the team in rushing, but he's out this week with an injury. In steps Tony Jones, a 5-7, 185 pounder who's averaging 32 yards per game rushing and has 11 catches. Christian Powell and Phillip Lindsay will also get carries this week and couldn't be more different with Powell be a 230 pound bruiser that averages 41 yards per game and Lindsay a little guy that adds 35 a game. Tight end Kyle Slavin has 10 catches this season.

It's a different group of linebackers with Gionni Paul out. Maybe the rust will be off of Jason Whittingham this week and he'll play better. Jared Norris will get his 10 tackles and be a menace while Marcus Sanders-Williams and Jacoby Hale will get more reps with Paul out. Utah has struggled stopping the ground game recently, giving up 249 yards per context in their last four, but Colorado doesn't present much of a running threat.


Edge: Utah

Colorado Offensive Line vs Utah Defensive Line
Colorado has some youth on the line with a sophomore right tackle and center. Right tackle Stephane Nembot is a monster though and one of the best tackles in the conference. He's a big reason that the Buffs, despite all the passing, have given up only 20 sacks on the season. They're not a very big line with only 1 guy hitting the 300 pound mark, which is likely the reason for the struggles in the run game.

Hunter Dimick's status is up in the air, and that hurts, but the Utes will be fine against a Colorado offensive line that is about average. Nate Orchard should be excited about what he can this week, although you have to wonder how much more attention he'll get with Dimick possibly being out. Orchard gets matched up with a sophomore and should be in Liufau's face often. If Dimick can't go, Jason Fanaika slides in to his spot and has 3 sacks on the year. Lowell Lotulelei and Sese Ianu will start inside on Utah's consistently evolving line.
Edge: Utah

Special Teams
Kaelin Clay still is the top return man in the conference and Andy Phillips should be the first team All Pac 12 kicker. Tom Hackett is the greatest punter ever.

Darragh O'Neill seems like he's been punting at Colorado forever. He'll kick using both legs (yes, you read that right) and is averaging an impressive 44.6 yards per punt with 25 of those inside the 20. Kicker Will Oliver is 14 of 19 on the year with a long of 49. Nelson Spruce averages 7.5 yards per punt return while Phillip Lindsay averages 23.2 on kick returns. The Buffs do give up over 10 yards per punt return.
Edge: Utah


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