Week 2 already?
The Utah Utes (1-0) take on one of their instate rivals the Utah State Aggies (1-0)
Friday night, September 11th, 2015
7:00pm MT inside Rice Eccles Stadium.
The last time these two teams met, August 29, 2013, the Utes were able to squeak out a victory 30-26.
Utah leads the all time series 78-29-4
Kyle Whittingham is 6-1 against the Aggies with his only loss coming in 2012
Matt Wells is 0-1 against the Utes with his only loss coming in 2013
The last time Utah State beat the Utes in Salt Lake City was waaaaaaayyyy back in 1997.
The Utes come into this game fresh off a victory against the Michigan Wolverines (24-17) while the Aggies are coming off a victory against Southern Utah University (12-9).
Let’s see how these two teams matchup.
Travis Wilson/Kendal Thompson vs Chuckie Keeton
Really it’s Travis Wilson vs Chuckie Keeton but I fully expect to see A LOT of Kendal Thompson this game. Travis Wilson played great last Thursday against a tough Michigan defense while Keeton seemed to struggle against SUU. Wilson always seems to perform well against Utah State and Keeton has performed well against Utah in the past. However, I don’t think Keeton will perform well this time around.
Reason: I think the Utes are going to bring the “heat” this time around and really test Keeton. I don’t see Utah State really giving the Utes any problems in the run or pass game. The Utes D Line should be able to put a lot of pressure on Keeton and I expect him to struggle.
Devontae Booker/Joe Williams vs LaJuan Hunt/Devante Mays
Booker showed his versatility against Michigan. He showed why he is a threat running the ball and in the passing game. Not sure how much the Utes use Booker this game, I expect to see A LOT of Joe Williams and possibly some of the other backs get a lot of his touches. LaJuan Hunt looks like the lead dog for USU. Hunt led the Aggies with 80yds rushing. His backup Devante Mays chipped in 51yds.
Reason: If Booker doesn’t get a lot of touches, I fully expect Williams to have a break out game. I don’t see Hunt or Mays doing a lot of damage against a stout Utes D.
Collective group of Utes vs Collective group of Aggies
Outside of Britain Covey, no Ute or Aggie receiver had that great of a day week 1. Not saying Covey had that great of a day either but he was the only one to eclipse 50yds in receiving. Interesting matchup here as neither group has really had anyone step up to be that “go to” guy. The Utes passing game is still a work in progress. The Aggies were missing a couple of their better receivers game 1, remains to be seen if they return against the Utes. I believe as a whole, the Utes have more talent at receiver and should be able to outperform the Aggies.
Reason: I expect the Utes to play everyone this game and I expect someone to breakout for them. The loss of JoJo Natson really hurt the Aggies receiving group as he was their “go to” guy and playmaker.
Siale Fakailoatonga/Harrison Handley vs Wyatt Houston
The loss of Evan Moeai hurts but Fakailoatonga and Handley have shown that they can fill the void. Wyatt Houston is a decent tight end for the Aggies and should see a good amount of action against the Utes. If Keeton is under a lot of pressure, Houston may see a lot of balls thrown his way.
Reason: I just think that the Utes have a lot more talent and depth than the Aggies at almost every position including Tight End.
Utes O Line vs Aggies O Line
The Utes O line held their own against a tough Michigan front seven last game. Even though they could’ve done a better job of opening holes and giving Wilson a little more time to make some throws, the Utes O line played pretty well for the first game. The Aggies O line seemed to struggle a little bit with SUU, which in turn caused their whole offense to struggle. There’s a big difference in the defensive lines of Michigan and SUU in my opinion.
Reason: The Utes O Line shouldn’t have any trouble opening up holes this Friday for their run game. Their pass blocking was pretty good against Michigan so I don’t expect it to falter against Utah State. Utah States O line has a tough task ahead of them in stopping a defensive line that is hungry for sacks.
Utes D Line vs Aggies D Line
It was a little bit uncharacteristic of the Utes to not get a sack against Michigan so I expect this team to bring some pressure this Friday. Although Keeton is a threat to run, I think the Utes will try their best to make him uncomfortable in all facets of the game. I expect the Utes to live up to their nickname (Sack Lake City) this Friday night. The Aggies have some decent players along their line. Most notably David Moala and Ricky Ali’ifua. Both guys are big, fast off the line and strong.
Reason: Utah is more talented, has more depth and I expect them to get at least 5+ sacks. I think USU will have a tough time stopping Utah’s run game and getting to the QB.
Whittingham/ Paul/Norris vs Fackrell/Filiaga/Green/Vigil
Another good battle to pay attention to. Both teams have very good linebackers. Paul and Norris are two of the best linebackers in the country and they along with Whittingham played quite solid against Michigan. I believe that Fackrell and Vigil are two of the best linebackers in the country as well. Both teams have linebackers that are up for end of the season awards. Both teams rely upon their linebackers for leadership. A very good battle to watch.
Reason: If I felt this was going to be a more competitive game I would probably put this matchup as EVEN. I have a feeling the Utes are going to be playing a lot of 2’s and 3’s this game not just because it’s going to be a blowout but to get their guys some experience and to keep the 1’s healthy for conference play. That being said this is a rivalry game so anything can happen but I expect the Utes D to be able to dominate the Aggies O and I expect the Utes O to be able to dominate the Aggies D. Fackrell and Vigil are both playmakers and Filiaga isn’t half bad either so I do expect some competition from this group.
Butler-Byrd/Porter/Carter/Williams/Thomas vs Davis/Hines/Centers/Evans
The Utes defensive backs played pretty well last game. 3 interceptions, 1 returned for a touchdown. They did have some miscues and make some mistakes, they also had a lot of cramping, but overall they played pretty well for game 1. USU gave up 1 touchdown through the air to SUU but other than that the play of their defense wasn’t bad. USU wasn’t able to get any interceptions against SUU.
Reason: Talent, Depth, remains to be seen but if Hatfield is able to play that is huge as well.
Neither team had any Kick Returns last game.
Utah only had 1 Punt Return for 14yds by Covey.
Andrew Rodriguez had 8 Punt Returns for 136yd and 1 TD.
Brock Warren made his only FG of the night a 30 yarder.
Aaron Dalton punted 13 times for 463 yards with a long of 48.
Andy Phillips had an off night missing 2 FGs.
Tom Hackett had some pretty good punts and one punt that the refs robbed him on that was clearly inside the 5.
Reason: Hackett and Phillips are two of the best in the nation, they both had rough nights that I expect them to bounce back from. Nothing stands out for the Utes or Aggies in the kick return game after 1 game. USU has a talented PR, will he be able to do the same against Utah? Remains to be seen.
Whittingham and Staff vs Wells and Staff
Whittinghamis 6-1 against Utah State.
Wells is 0-1 against Utah.
Reason: Whittingham is on another level.
HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE:
Reason: Loudness, The MUSS, The NEZ
I expect the Utes to win 42-17
I expect Utah to play a lot of 2’s and 3’s this game. It’s a game the Utes cannot afford to overlook though as it is a rivalry game and USU will be prepared and looking for an upset. I just think the Utes are more talented and have more depth across the board.