Utah Quarterback and Wide Receivers vs Indiana Secondary
The Troy Williams experience ended with a thud for his junior year as the offense stalled significantly over the second half of the season as Williams struggled to find consistency. He completed only 53.4% of his passes in 2016 for 214 yards a game with 15 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. By comparison, Travis Wilson only had one season completing under 60% as a passer, and that was in 2013 when he completed 56.1%. Tim Patrick and Cory Butler-Byrd will be playing their final games as Utes and posted 72 catches for 1056 yards and 5 touchdowns combined this year despite both missing a few games. Raelon Singleton looks like the heir apparent as he closed out the regular season with 26 catches and 4 touchdowns while both Siaosi Wilson and Demari Simpkins were productive with 14 and 15 catches respectively.
The Indiana secondary is giving up only 220 yards games per game through the air, but that's just sightly misleading as it's still towards the bottom of the Big X conference in a league where they just don't throw the ball. That said, it's not easy completing a pass against this group as they're only allowing 52.7% completions by opponents. Junior corner (and former Utah target) Rashard Fant leads the group after an all conference season where he broke up 17 passes on the year to go along with 2 interceptions. Across from him is freshman A'Shon Riggins who had 9 pass breakups and a pick in 2016. The safety group is solid with Tony Field registering 62 tackles and 2 interceptions, while sophomore Jonathan Crawford posted a team leading 3 interceptions and 7 pass breakups.
Utah Running Backs and Tight Ends vs Indiana Linebackers
It’s the Joe Williams swan song against Indiana, giving the senior one last chance to build on one of the most impressive seasons in Utah’s history. Despite missing 3 games due to retirement, the former JC transfer posted 1185 yards at 6.4 yards per carry and 9 touchdowns on the year, earning himself all conference honors. Behind him we’ll get to see a healthy Zach Moss for the first time in quite awhile, along with hopefully Troy McCormick at or near full health. Evan Moeia and Harrison weren’t targeted as much as many would have hoped during the regular season but did finish with a combined 34 catches and 2 touchdowns.
Indiana's strength on defense might be their linebackers, led by middle backer Tegray Scales. Scales leads the team with 116 tackles, including 20.5 for loss, and 5 sacks. He's got a good pair of outside backers next to him in Oliver Marcus and freshman Marcelino Ball. Marcus is second on the team in tackles with 92, has 15.5 tackles for loss, 4 sacks, and has forced 5 fumbles. Ball, the freshman, will be all over the field, playing a linebacker-safety hybrid role. He's not a big guy, but has been productive with 73 tackles and 7 pass breakups, helping the Indiana defense hold opposing running games to only 3.6 yards per carry.
Utah Offensive Line vs Indiana Defensive Line
With a first team all conference left tackle in Garrett Bolles and the offensive line Morris Award winner in Isaac Asiata. Leka Uhatafe was an all conference honorable mention while Nick Nowakowski, Sam Tevi, and Jackson Barton were all serviceable or better in 2016. It’s a very good group, especially when it comes to run blocking as they opened up holes to the tune of yards per game. The pass blocking wasn’t at the same level, but the big uglies gave up only 22 sacks on the year.
The weakest part of Indiana's defense? Probably on the line, but they're still solid. The Hoosiers will rotate quite a bit, playing 7 to 8 guys consistently. Nile Sykes leads the group with 4 sacks, and that's really all he does. Raphael Green is a big boy in the middle at 305 pounds and has 7.5 tackles for loss. Nate Hoff is another 300 pounder inside next to him with 6 tackles for loss on the season. Greg Gooch has an unfortunate last name to go along with 5.5 tackles for loss. Patrick Dougherty can play inside or outside and posted 5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks. There's a good amount of size, but no headliners on the line. Getting to the QB has been an issue with only 28 sacks.
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