Utah Quarterback and Wide Receivers vs Cal Secondary
Now we've all seen the Troy Williams that most were expecting when the season started after a monster performance in the comeback against USC. Remove a couple of bad decisions against BYU and Williams has been one of the top signal callers in the conference at 248 yards per game with 6 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. Williams is completing 62% his passes and making big throw after big throw. This is the type of quarterback Utah has needed for years. Tim Patrick looks like a first team all conference wide receiver (what a weird thing to say about a Utah pass catcher) with 20 grabs on the year for 96 yards per game and 5 touchdowns. Cory Butler-Byrd is a legit number 2 after hauling in 9 passes over his two games. The third wide receiver spot is still very much in flux, but the Utes have plenty of reliable options in Kyle Fulks, Demari Simpkins, Siaosi Wilson, and Raelon Singleton. If Tyrone Smith returns this week, that'll give the team another boost in a game where they should put up big numbers.
Cal's secondary? They're only giving up 228 yards per game, but with the rush defense so bad, teams just aren't throwing much against the Bears. With their two starting safeties out, they'll turn to Khari Vanderbilt and former QB Luke Rubenzer. Rubenzer does have a pick and 2 fumble recoveries, so he's a playmaker, and Vanderbilt is 4th on the team in tackles. Corners Darius Allensworth and Marloshawn Franklin are both bigger corners who have combined for 1 interception and 4 passes defended. They'll be heavily tested by Tim Patrick and company this week.
Utah Running Backs and Tight Ends vs Cal Linebackers
I think it's safe to say that the running game has been settled, despite the departure of Joe Williams a few weeks ago. Zack Moss keeps grinding out yards to the tune of 81 per game with Armand Shyne posting 77 yards per in his last two contests. They're a solid thunder and more thunder combo. The question now is whether or not Troy McCormick is even a running back. Only two carries last week, it appears that the coaches want to use him more in the passing game than in the run game. McCormick can do both, and the Utes should use him a bit more this week than they did against USC. Evan Moeia is starting to emerge more as a legitimate blocker and dangerous pass catcher, now up to 8 grabs on the season.
Cal's linebackers? Insert poo emoji. If there is one spot they are really weak on defense, it's at the linebacker spot. They're giving up an awful 263 yards per contest on the ground. Junior Ramond Davidson leads the team with 33 tackles on the season. Aisea Tongilave is an injury replacement and has only 1 tackle so far this season with Devante Downs is the third back with 2.5 tackles for loss on the year. These guys are a major work in progress.
Utah Offensive Line and vs Cal Defensive Line
The Utah offensive line has improved every single week this season. No sacks given up against USC and only 5 total on the season. They're opening up big enough holes for the backs to run for 173 yards per game while Garrett Bolles is turning into a monster. Against a big nose tackle last week, JJ Dielman had some struggles, but Cal won't be throwing out the size and talent that the Trojans had.
Cal's defensive line? Defensive end Devante Wilson has 2.5 sacks on the season while fellow end Cameron Saffle has 2 sacks, 4.5 tackles for loss, and is second on the team with 29 tackles. They're not a bad duo by any means. The inside guys are James Looney and Tony Mekari, but neither are very big at under 285 pounds and haven't been overly productive. They're one of the reasons that Cal's rushing defense is so porous and teams tend to get a push inside.