Utah Quarterback and Wide Receivers vs UCLA Secondary
Troy Williams has stalled out a bit with back to back pedestrian games. He hasn't had all of his weapons at his disposal, and that may have been a reason for the play, that and wind....and rain...and a new center. Williams has been completing balls at a 48% clip the last three games. That's not going to get it done this week. He may have most of his receivers back at or near full strength so that should boost things. They'll need production out of the uber-athletic Cory Butler-Byrd to help get some big plays in the passing game.
Washington's secondary gets the pub as the best in the conference, and maybe in the country, but the Bruins aren't far behind. Fabian Moreau is one of the top corners in the country, but rarely does he have the ball thrown his way. Moreau has 1 pick and 6 passes defended on the year. Nate Meadors is across from Moreau and expected to return from a two game absence. Meadors has 5 passes defended in 5 games played. Nickelback Adarius Picket will get a lot of run and has a team leading 3 interceptions. The secondar is good, but not great with Jaleel Wadood leading the way. He's a little guy, but a big hitter who is all over the field. Randall Goforth will play some corner at times, but is the biggest liability in the secondary. The Bruins give up only 198 yards a game through the air and opponents are completing only 50% of their passes. A big reason is the absurd 36 passes defended this season. By comparison, the Utes have 17.
Utah Running Backs and Tight Ends vs UCLA Linebackers
Joe Williams is back, and the man after his huge day at Oregon State. He should be in better condition to carry the ball this week, although I doubt we'll see it 34 times. Zack Moss and Troy McCormick could be back this week to boost the Utes in the run game and take some off of Williams. The Utes are averaging 193 yards per game this season on the ground, but at only 4.2 yards per carry, it's a bit lower than they'd like, but the overall production has been good enough. Tight end Evan Moeai has 13 grabs on the year, but I wouldn't expect him to be targeted as much this week given the likely schemes from the two teams.
The Bruins' linebackers are pretty good, but do have some limitations. There is a ton of depth and you'll see as many as 5 or 6 different guys out there, but they're led by senior tackling machine Jayon Brown, who has the most tackles in the conference with 63. Junior Kenny Young has made big strides this season and is more diverse in his ability to play the pass than in years past. Young has 52 tackles and a team leading 4.5 sacks. Cameron Judge will get the start at outside linebacker, but expect him to split time with Isaako Savaiinaea and Josh Woods. The Bruins are giving up 146 yards per game on the ground, but only 4 yards per carry.
Utah Offensive Line vs UCLA Defensive Line
The Utah offensive line was ok last week, and they'll have their toughest test to date against a strong UCLA front. Lo Falemaka is expected to be back at the center spot, which should boost the line. He adds a level of athleticism that Nick Nowakowski hasn't had in recent weeks. For the most part, the line has stayed healthy outside of the center spot and have mostly played well. They're going to need to be very physical and bring it on every single down this week, especially on the interior.
The Bruins don't get a lot of sacks, and aren't elite when it comes to getting pressure, but they get enough to make things tough on opposing quarterbacks with only 13. Tak McKinley is an unbelievable speed end that has a team leading 4 sacks and is second in the conference in tackles for loss. The guy is a 10.6 100 meters super-human. Across from him is Matt Dickerson, who has a big body at 6-4, 295 and will rotate with Jacob Tuioti-Mariner. Inside Eddie Vanderdoes leads the way and is one of the best defensive tackles in the country. A future first round pick, Vanderdoes is an every-snap double team and a monster to deal with. Eli Ankou is a space eater next to Vanderdoes at 6-3, 325 pounds. The Bruins as a team are constantly in the backfield, despite the lack of sacks, with 32 tackles for loss.