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Breaking down who has the edge in each battle between the Utes and Huskies

Utah and Washington are pretty evenly matched heading into Saturday's game

Utah Quarterback and Wide Receivers vs Washington Secondary

Which Travis Wilson and company shows up this week? The ones that torched Oregon, Arizona State, and were solid against Oregon State, or the USC version? Against a Washington defense that looks like the best in the conference, Wilson is going to need to protect the ball, and be efficient on 3rd down and in the red zone. He's played well this season for the most part with a 68.9% completion rate, 10 touchdowns, and 7 interceptions while throwing for 204 yards per game. His receiving corps? Still thin, as it's mainly been a two man show with Brittain Covey and Kenneth Scott, along with balls to running back Devontae Booker. Someone else needs to step up as those three have combined for 91 of Utah's 160 catches. With Raelon Singleton injured and likely out this week, the group gets even thinner.

It's a stingy Washington secondary filled with playmakers. Budda Baker is the star at free safety. He's a sophomore with 2 interceptions and 6 passes defended, while also playing the run fairly well. Strong safety Brian Clay lines up next to him and has 32 tackles. On the outside, former Utah commit, Sidney Jones, is having a breakout year with 2 interceptions and 7 passes defended.  Junior Kevin King leads the team with 3 interceptions and 7 passes defended as well. This group has a total of 7 picks in their starting 4 and is giving up only 223 yards per game through the air.

Edge: Washington

Utah Running Backs and Tight Ends vs Washington Linebackers

Devontae Booker continues his stellar play, rushing for 120 yards per game and 9 touchdowns.Throw in 32 catches at 32 yards per game and you've got one of the best backs in the country. Tight end Harrison Handley has really come on strong following injuries to Siale Fakailoatonga and Evan Moeia. Handley has 12 grabs and 3 touchdowns on the season. He's starting to remind people of Jake Murphy out there.

Washington with counter with a great group of linebackers, led by Azeem Victor and his 64 tackles, 6.5 of those for loss. Keishawn Bierria is second on the team with 59 tackles and senior Cory Littleton has 40 tackles, 8.5 for loss, and 4 sacks. Both Victor and Bierria are sophomores. Senior Travis Feeny is a terror off of the edge and maybe the best pass rusher in the conference. He's register 13.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks. While this group is fairly light with only Azeemn tipping the scales at over 230 pounds, they've been very effective in slowing opposing rushing attacks to only 136 yards per game.

Edge: Washington

Utah Offensive Line vs Washington Defensive Line

The Utah offensive line will likely be without center Siaosi Aiono again this week with Hiva Lutui in his place. Lutui is solid, but he's not Aiono, who is one of the best centers in the country. While the play of the line in pass protection has been somewhat spotty at times, it was pretty good again last week against Oregon State. Despite sharing reps with Jackson Barton at left tackle, Sam Tevi has distanced himself with his play and really turned into a good player the last few weeks. Along with JJ Dielman, they've been a big reason that Utah has allowed only 11 sacks this year. The offensive line still is looking for their groove in the running game though. Booker is getting a lot of his yards on his own still, and the tackles near the line of scrimmage are happening too often.

The Washington defensive line will take a big hit if NT Elijah Qualls can't go after suffering an injury last week. Doesn't fill up the stat sheet, but does a lot of damage inside. If he can't go, Grega Gaines likely takes his spot. Joe Mathis lines up at end and has 4 tackles for loss and a sack on the year with Taniela Tuopu across from him with 2.5 tackles for loss. Qualls makes this all go though, and if he can't play, it will really hurt this unit.

Edge: Even (Utah if Qualls doesn't play)

Washington Quarterback and Wide Receivers vs Utah Secondary

Jake Browning is a true freshman signal caller for the Huskies, and while Josh Rosen at UCLA gets all of the freshman pub, Browning hasn't been too shabby himself. The Northern California product is completing over 62% of his passes for 228 yards per game with 10 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. Browning, though, is not a running threat in the least. He has a group of speedy receivers to work with, led by Jaydon Mickens, who can realy fly. The senior leads the team with 28 catches for 290 yards with a toucdown on the season. Dante Pettis is a 6 foot sophomore that can really move and has 15 catches on the year while matchup nightmare Brayden Lenius has 14 grabs. The Huskies have struggled to get many big plays out of their receiving corps with only 1 play of more than 40 yards through the air this year to a receiver.

With Reggie Porter's big game last week, Utah now has 2 corners that they can really rely on, to go along with a couple of nice backups in Brian Allen and Cory Butler-Byrd. Opposing offenses are throwing for 250 yards per game, but are completing only 55% percent of their passes and an averaging 6.8 yards per attempt. Those are numbers that Utah has to love. Unfortunately, when the ball is completed, big plays are still happening as the Utes are giving up 12.1 yards per completion. Washington has some talented guys at receiver, so Domo Hatfield and company will need to be ready. They'll get help from Marcus Williams, who has been playing out of his mind recentl, and angling for all conference honors (interceptions aside, he would still be worthy). Tevin Carter is still looking a bit nicked up, and continues to play a lot near the line of scrimmage, so that puts a lot of pressure on Williams to cover a lot of ground.

Edge: Utah

Washington Running Backs and Tight Ends vs Utah Linebackers

The Washington running game leaves a lot to be desired, but they've picked things up in recent weeks with freshman Myles Gaskin who is averaging over 81 yards per game and 6.1 yards per carry. Outside of last week's 49 yard effort on 11 carries against Arizona, Gaskins had gone for over 100 yards in three straight against USC, Oregon, and Stanford. He's not a big kid, but can make people miss and runs well enough between the tackles to be effective. Backup running back Dwayne Washington is a threat out of the backfield with 23 catches and 3 touchdowns. Tight end Josh Perkins is second on the team in receiving with 25 catches and 2 touchdowns. He'll be Browning's safety valve. 

Gionni Paul remains a contender for the Pac 12 defensive player of the year race, leading the team with 75, 10 for loss, 1 sack, 2 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries, and a partridge in a pear tree. Jared Norris should be close to 100% this week and is second on the team with 57 tackles. Jason Whittingham has been phased out a bit with the Utes generally using a nickel formation and has only 20 tackles. Utah is giving up 113 yards per game on the ground thanks in part to this group.

Edge: Utah

Washington Offensive Line vs Utah Defensive Line

A lot of youth on Washington's offensive line with true freshman Trey Adams at left tackle and sophomores Coleman Shelton and Andrew Kirland on the right. Left guard Jake Eldrenkamp is in his first year as a starter and center Siosifa Tufunga had only 5 starts coming into they year. They have played pretty well in protecting Browning with only 19 sacks given up, but only 132 yards per game on the ground is an issue. This Utah defense will test them like they've yet to be tested this season.

Despite injury issues at the end spots, Utah's defensive line continues to roll on. No one is running up the middle against the likes fo Seni Fauonuku, Lowell Lotulelei, and Filipo Mokofisi, while Jason Fanaika has played like an all conference candidate at one end spot. Should Hunter Dimick return, he'll boost the pass rush as Kylie Fitts didn't look like himself last week and Pita Taumoepenu is very inconsistent. The Utes have 21 sacks on the year and will try to get as much pressure as possible on the true freshman Browning.

Edge: Utah 

Special Teams

Andy Phillips and Tom Hackett remain two of the most valuable players on Utah's roster in their ability to be relied upon so heavily. Hackett is averaging 47.8 yards per punt and remains the favorite to repeat as the Ray Guy Award winner, while Phillips is is 13 of 16 on the season and has made his last 6 kicks. Brittain Covey remains solid in the return game averaging 13.1 yards per return, but hasn't done much in recent weeks. He'll join Bubba Poole as the kick returning this week, although neither has done much there. Where is Butler-Byrd? Utah is giving up a respectable 22 yards per kick return with a touchdown, but an awful 16 yards and 2 touchdowns in the punt return game. They cannot afford to hand points to Washington like that.

The Huskies have a decent kicking game with junior Cameron Van Winkle waking up from a 20 year nap to go 7 of 9 on the year with a long of 48. Punter Korey Durkee avcerages 42.9 yards per punt. Chico McClatcher is averaging 23.9 yards per kick return with a long of 43, while Dante Pettis is putting up big punt return numbers at 15.9 yards per return with a touchdown. The Huskies are allowing only 5.9 yards per punt return this season and 25.7 yards per kick return.

Edge: Even


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