Utah Quarterback and Receivers vs San Jose State Secondary
Which Troy Williams will we see this week? The one that was composed and calm against Southern Utah, or the one that was mostly composed and calm against BYU, but threw some bad picks and turned the ball over multiple times. Facing a weak SJSU pass rush, he should have all day to throw, but Williams needs to improve on his decision making against a sneaky good Spartans secondary or they'll force turnovers. Williams is currently completing 58 percent of his passes for 233 yards per game with 3 touchdowns and 3 interceptions so far. Tim Patrick is his favorite receiver and should have the matchup advantage against SJSU's smaller corners. Patrick has already hauled in 8 catches and 3 touchdowns this season. We'll see if Tyrone Smith plays this week, but he's second on the team with 5 grabs while Raelon Singleton has 4. Cory Butler-Byrd makes his return this week and adds a ton of speed to the receiving corps.
San Jose State had the second best pass defense in the country last season, and while they've been susceptible to the big play at times, they're holding opponents to only 233 yards per contest so far this season while picking off 3 passes. Junior safety Maurice McKnight is the best of the group coming off of a season where he had 100 tackles and and interception. Next to him is a freshman in Trevon Bierria. The corners are solid with returning starter and junior Andrew Chachere already having picked off two passes this season. Sophomore Dakari Monroe is in his first season as a starter and has a sweet mustache.
Utah Running Backs and Tight Ends vs San Jose State Linebackers
Joe Williams may be gone, but that doesn't mean that the guys behind him can't run all over a porous San Jose State run defense. The loss of Williams hurts because of what we expected him to contribute this season, so the Utes will have to live with Troy McCormick as their feature back and freshman Zack Moss running behind him. McCormick has been solid this season rushing for 58 yards per game to go along with 3 catches, but he was knocked out of the last game and we'll see if he's able to play or how effective he is on Saturday. Moss was a monster in the fourth quarter against BYU going for 58 yards on 12 carries and grinding out yard after yard with his powerful running style. Expect big-bodies back Armand Shyne to get some run as well after putting up 19 yards on 8 carries in the opener against SUU. If these guys, despite the lack of experience, don't go for 200 yards on the ground, I'll be disappointed. Utah hasn't used the tight ends much this season, but both Harrison Handley and Evan Moeia remain weapons. Moeia has 3 catches on the year while Handley has 2.
Linebacker Frank Ginda is the head of the defense leading the team with 21 tackles, 2 sacks, 3 tackles for loss, and has recovered a fumble. Junior Williams Ossai was a part-time starter last season and had 8 tackles on the season. Freshman Ethan Aguayo is 201 pounds at linebacker and has 7 tackles. These guys are giving up a horrendous number of yards per game on the ground at 253 and 5.1 yards per carry. They're going to be in trouble against Utah's versatile running attack and big tight ends
Utah Offensive Line vs San Jose State Defensive Line
The Utah offensive line made strides after their week 1 disaster by getting back to Utah football against BYU. There is still work to be done, but JJ Dielman cleaned up the snaps, Isaac Asiata was a mauler, Garrett Bolles was better (but not great), and the helped keep a solid BYU front in check. On the season the Utes have given up only two sacks and are helping produce 153 yards per game on the ground. This is a week where they're going to have a significant advantage and if the play continues to improve, they should eat up San Jose State's line.
The Spartans do have five sacks this season with 4 of those coming in week 1 against Tulsa, but only nabbed 1 last week vs Portland State. Senior Nick Oreglia is a 281 pound defensive end who used to play inside. He has 1 sack and 2 tackles for loss on the season. Opposite him in fellow senior Isaiah Irving, who is a pass rushing specialist, but is yet to register a sack this season. A couple of undersized sophomores man the inside with both Owen Roberts and Bryson Bridges coming in at under 285 pounds each. Both do have a sack this season and are third and fourth, respectively, on the team in tackles. The Spartans are giving up 253 yards per game on the ground though, largely in part because their interior isn't very big.