Utah Quarterback and Wide Receivers vs Oregon State Secondary
Troy Williams continues to do his thing, and while the completion percentage is lower than where the Utes would like it, you've got to think of the number of times he's thrown balls away the last few weeks, just looking to play for the next down. Expect Tim Patrick back this week after he tried last week, but couldn't make himself available to bolster the burgeoning wide receiving corps with Cory Butler-Byrd and company. Raelon Singleton continues to develop as well, but with all of the rain and wind forecasted the Utes may not be throwing it much. Maybe we'll see more Troy Williams running the football as Whittingham indicated they'd like to do.
If there's one area that the Beavers excel at on defense, it's in defending the pass. Through 5 games, they're giving up 207 yards per game in the passing game and are led by senior corner Treston Decoud, who is huge at 6-3, 208 pounds. Decoud is 5th on the team in tackles and has a team leading 2 interceptions. Across from him is a tiny guy in Dwayne Williams who only stands 5-9 and 180 pounds. He'll be someone Utah looks to exploit if Tim Patrick can play. He'll rotate with Xavier Crawford who has a team leading 7 pass breakups. Senior Devin Chappel is a playmaker at safety and is second on the team in tackles. He's forced 2 fumbles this season. Brandon Arnold is 4th on the team in tackles and has 1 interception. They don't pick off a lot of passes, but they're very efficient, as evidenced by their ability to completely shut down Cal's passing attack last week.
Utah Running Backs and Tight Ends vs Oregon State Linebackers
Who is going to be running the ball for the Utes? We have no idea. Now that Joe Williams is back, he looks to be the likely candidate. If not, the Utes better hope that Zack Moss and/or Troy McCormick are back and can carry the ball 15+ times. How in shape will Williams be? Is the fire back? Is he motivated? All big questions. If Williams can't go and Moss or McCormick aren't back, things get dicey. Marcel Manalo appears to be the next man up, but Whittingham has shown zero confidence in the redshirt freshman. Maybe Marcus Sanders-Williams moves back to running back (again). Maybe we'll see Tavaris Williams. We might even see Cory Butler-Byrd in certain packages. The unknown boggles at the mind. At least the Utes know what they're getting from the tight end spot with Evan Moeia turning into a more than reliable weapon.
For the third straight week the Utes will face a defense that gives up a ton of yards on the ground. The Beavers aren't slowing anyone with opponents going for over 224 yards per game and a ridiculous 5.4 yards per carry. Senior Caleb Saulo is the best of the group and leads the team in tackles with 39. Bright Ugwoegbu is an explosive linebacker with a team leading 5.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks. Manase Hungalu is a big hitter with 30 tackles while Titus Failauga has 2 sacks on the year and is used mostly to rush the passer.
Utah Offensive Line vs Oregon State Defensive Line
So what is the offensive line going to look like this week? With Lo Falemaka likely not back this week, and it very apparent that Kyle Whittingham wants more at the center spot than Nick Nowakowski gave, you'd have to anticipate some movement this week. Bolles will stay at left tackle and he continues to maul dudes. Uhatafe is staying at right guard. He's been arguably the Utes' most consistent offensive lineman from games 1 through 6. Then things get tricky. We could see Asiata moved from left guard to center. You'd then have either Sam Tevi slide over to that spot or Darrin Paulo step in. Tevi could go from right tackle to center with Jackson Barton taking up Tevi's spot outside. That makes the most sense to limit the number of moves. We could also see the Utes stick with the lineup from last week if Nowakowsi made strides. Tons of questions, but against an Oregon State defensive line that is below average, it shouldn't be too big of a deal.
The Beaves defensive line doesn't help slow the run and they don't get to the quarterback, registering only 7 sacks as a team on the season, and exactly 1.5 combined out of their defensive line. Baker Pritchard hails from Bingham High in Utah and is a stout end at 6-3, 272, but has been statistically disappointing. Elu Aydon is the giant inside at 6-3, 324 pounds. He eats up space and that's about it. Kalani Vakameilalo is another big kid at 6-3, 311. This might be the worst defensive front in the conference.