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    Utah vs. USC

     
    Friday, September 23 @ 7:00 pm MT
    TV: Fox Sports 1
    Radio: ESPN 700

    Pick the Score, Win a Prize

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    Week 5 preview: Utah at Cal

    by afro14
    2016-09-26 12:23:00

    Troy Williams and receivers vs the Cal secondary:

    Utah is right where they want to be after a gutsy 4th quarter comeback against USC. 4-0 and off to a good start in conference play. This game will be Utah's first real road test, against a Cal team known for its explosive offense more than its defense.

    Cal plays primarily a 4-2-5 defense, and secondary is ranked 75th through 4 games, allowing 228 yards per game. They have been pretty good at not allowing touchdowns, only giving up 4 through the air so far, while grabbing 5 interceptions. Some notable players include cornerbacks Darius Allensworth and Cameron Walker, both whom have recorded an interception. Safety Khari Vanderbilt is probably Cal's best tackling defensive back so far on the year, as he has recorded 27 tackles, good for third on the team.

    Physically, neither side has a huge advantage in height or weight, so whoever wins his matchup will have to be better in technique and speed. Troy Williams had a great game against USC, looking poised and accurate, and keeping his cool in a game-winning drive that started at Utah's own 7 yard line. He looks to have cleaned up the turnover mistakes that plagued him against BYU and SJSU. Speed wise, Utah has some deep threat guys like Butler-Byrd and Tim Patrick that will likely have big games, but Utah should be able to pick up plenty of yards underneath, and I look for guys like Raelon Singleton and Tyrone Smith (if healthy) to have some success in shorter routes on the outside, as Cal usually plays pretty soft coverage. Utah should be able to get plenty open looks and I expect the passing game to have a good day. However, given the matchup, I don't think we'll see Utah throw it quite as much as they have in previous games, for reasons to be explained below.

    Edge: Utah

    Utah RBs and OL vs the Cal front 7:

    Zack Moss and Armand Shyne have really come on strong, proving that they capable leaders of a talented group of running backs, showing the speed, power, and vision to get through holes in the line and take on tacklers. They are complemented by Troy McCormick, who is a big play threat every time he touches the ball. Together, these three have combined for just under 600 yards on the year, along with 4 touchdowns and a better than 5 yards per carry average.

    In front of the RBs is an experienced offensive line with a lot of talent and depth on it. Although the line had its struggles to begin the year, they seem to have gelled together and played two very good games against SJSU and USC. Against USC, Troy Williams had all day to throw, and USC didn't record a sack. They also plowed the way for 186 yards of total rushing offense last week.

    On the other side of the line is a front 7 that has really struggled so far. Cal is giving up 263 yards per game, which ranks them 126th out of 128 FBS teams. They have given up 13 touchdowns on the ground, or more than 3 per game. As for their pass rush, it's average, ranking 47th in the nation, having brought the QB down 9 times through 4 games. I expect Utah's offense to take a grind-it-out approach and run a lot to not let Cal's offense on the field very often, and they should have plenty of success.

    Edge: Utah

    Cal QB and receivers vs the Utah secondary:

    Cal took a big hit over the offseason as QB Jared Goff announced he was leaving early for the NFL draft. Adding to their woes, WR Kenny Lawler also declared early. Lawler led the team in receptions and touchdown catches in 2015. So, how did the Bears respond? By grabbing graduate transfer Davis Webb out of Texas Tech and having the 2nd ranked passing offense through four games. As for the receivers, Chad Hansen (6'2", 195) is the top receiver, having caught an unbelievable 50 passes for 656 yards and 6 touchdowns so far this year. Another name to keep an eye on is Melquise Stovall (5'9", 185), a highly recruited guy who was oh so close to being a Ute. Stovall has caught 17 passes for 232 yards and 2 touchdowns. Despite the gaudy numbers, Cal prefers to throw lots of quick passes and let their receivers pick up yards after the catch, although they do take their fair share of shots downfield, but I expect to see Utah play a lot of press coverage close to the line.

    On the opposite side of the line is a group that has been very solid so far this year. Utah's secondary is the best Cal has faced so far this year, ranked 29th in passing yards allowed. For comparison, of the other teams Cal has faced, the best secondary of all of them is Texas's who is ranked 74th. The other three are in the bottom 25 of the nation. Utah has great talent at every position in the secondary, and is shored up by the return of Domo Hatfield. Whoever matches up on Chad Hansen is going to have his hands full, but he key to shutting down this offense is to shut Hansen down. If Utah can hold him to less than 10 catches and 100 yards, I expect they'll win this game.

    Edge: Even

    Cal RBs and O-line vs. the Utah front 7:

    Utah's LB situation is still a bit scary, The linebackers had looked decent up until the USC game, when they were exposed. To be fair, Tauteoli looked decent, but Barton looked lost out there. Some of this had to do with Morgan Scalley's game plan, which had the linebackers playing close to the line, effectively neutralizing their ability to stop runs up the middle. We may see more of Kavika Luafatasaga this game, but whoever plays, they had better be ready to defend short passes across the middle. As for the defensive line, these guys had an uncharacteristic rough game against USC, owing partially to injuries (Lotulelei and Fitts)' and partially due to the fact that USC's offensive line is huge and athletic. It sounds like Lotulelei may not be available for this game, so Pasoni Tasini, Filipo Mokofisi, and Alani Havili-Katoa will need to step up big time in his absence. However much the the front 7 struggled against USC, they are still, statistically, one of the better units in the country, only allowing 132 yards rushing and 1 rushing TD per game, (and that number drops to 105 yards per game and 2 touchdowns in three games, if you throw out the statistical outlier which was the USC game).

    On the other side of the line is a Cal offensive line that has been mediocre in both pass protection and run blocking. Cal's run game only gets about 135 yards per game and 4 yards per carry. This is partially due to the fact that they throw the ball so much, but still, a 4 yard per carry average isn't great. Additionally, Cal has allowed 11 sacks on the year against some pretty lousy defenses. Where this front 7 will be attacked is with short passes over the middle, so, again, the linebackers need to play a good game or else the defense will get picked apart over the middle. However, I expect the line to be able to get pressure against Cal, and if the secondary is able to disrupt the quick-hitting routes, it could cause quite a few sacks and turnovers.

    Edge: Utah

    Utah Special Teams vs Cal special teams:

    Utah has been extremely good in the field goal kicking and punting aspects of the game so far. Kickoffs and returns have not been so good. The coverage team had been pretty solid up to the USC game, until they kicked it to Adoree Jackson, who took one back to the house. Cal has Khalfani Muhammad, who is a good kickoff returner, averaging 27.4 yards per return, although he hasn't broken off a touchdown return yet. On the other side of the ball, Utah's kick return game has been abysmal. Several guys, including McCormick, Burgess, Blackmon, and CBB have all been tried, but the blocking hasn't given them any room to make something happen. Hobbs has shown flashes in the punt return game, but hasn't been able to break one off yet. Cal's kicker is 7 for 8 on his field goal attempts so far, and their punter is averaging 45.5 yards per kick, with a long of 64. Neither side seems to have a clear cut advantage.

    Edge: Even

    Prediction: Utah 38 Cal 28

    Cal has offensive talent for sure, but their defense has struggled against all the teams they've played, giving up, on average, 42 points per game. I expect Utah to try to control the time of possession and run as much as they can against this porous Cal defense, with just enough pass mixed in to keep them honest. If Utah can succeed with this strategy and keep Cal's offense off the field, it will force Cal to take bigger risks, which will hopefully lead to mistakes. This game will come down to those two elements, time of possession and turnovers. If Utah wins those two battles, they win the game.

    >> Comment...

     

    Oh Yeah!

    by 5Utes
    2016-09-25 20:43:17

    >> Comment...

     

    USC Game Streaming

    by utahman3431
    2016-09-26 07:46:59

    The USC game is now streaming. It isn't up to 720p yet, but it is good enough quality to watch it on my computer screen

    http://uofu.bobsonlineworld.net

    pass: utevids

    >> Comment...

     

    Talked to my dad today, he said just another typical Sunday at church and a dry talk from the high councilman, except ...

    by sweetgrass
    2016-09-25 20:53:54

    One of the high council in my dads stake is Kyle Whittingham.

    said he got to shake Whitts hand after his talk and tell him great game. I joked and asked him if his bosom burned when shaking his hand, he said oh yeah!

    He also said Mrs. Whiitingham seemed very upset at Kyle for some reason.

    This is your church stalking Whitt update for Sept. 24th

    >> Comment...

     

    At Husky Stadium last year, up 24-23 with 14 minutes left in the game and UW rolling on Offense. Travis Wilson and Devontae Booker launch two drives spanning almost 12 minutes and scoring 10 points. 17 running plays, and only 2 plays lost yardage.

    by Puget Ute
    2016-09-25 23:31:24

    Those absolutely were '#%!@ You' drives, and were beautiful. Book racked up 56 yards, Travis Wilson rushed for 15 yrs and a TD, and Bubba Poole added 9 more.

    In between the two scoring drives, Kylie Fitts and Stevie T combined on a sack/fumble to regain possession.

    Amazing.

    >> Comment...

     

    Oregon has had a completely different philosophy on how to win games over the last few decades.

    by Ute in DC
    2016-09-26 08:50:57

    I cannot think of a worse fit for Coach Whit. The two would go together like oil and water. Oregon has been innovating on offense while neglecting defense and special teams. Whittingham has been neglecting offense while putting together great defense and special teams. Oregon fans are not ready for such an abrupt change. I don't find this rumor plausible at all.

    >> Comment...

     

    Need to see more of this....

    by BaldHatu
    2016-09-26 12:02:16

    >> Comment...

     

    It's pretty awesome when you can recognize your own tendencies as a problem - Congrats to Whitt for recognizing that he needs to be more aggressive and have faith in his players.

    by 96GradAlum
    2016-09-26 09:56:22

    But it helps a lot to have play makers like Troy Williams and Tim Patrick. Cuz last years dynamic duo ... weren't so dynamic.

    >> Comment...

     

    Also, Whitt.

    by HoyaUte
    2016-09-25 23:17:03

    >> Comment...

     

    Called it.

    by NarfUte
    2016-09-26 12:40:54

    http://www.utefans.net/message.php?id=184 4028#message1844028

    The PAC hates richrod so it'll probably be an 8:15 kickoff

    >> Comment...

     

    No Subject

    by Duhwayne
    2016-09-26 10:11:59

    >> Comment...

     

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    • (NM) means No Message was included in the post, so don't bother clicking on it.
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