John White IV and Ka'Deem Carey are the storylines, two stellar running backs on so-so teams that haven't gotten much attention throughout the season. But the X-factor when the Arizona Wildcats face the Utah Utes in Salt Lake City could easily be each of the teams' passing games.
For the Wildcats, how they decide to pass is up in the air. Ryan Finley reports that the team remains silent on Matt Scott's status for Saturday's game, a fair move to cast mystery upon what Utah will be playing against. But it's obviously not a good sign that Scott is quickly recovering.
On Utah's end, problems are there as well.
Take a look at Utah freshman quarterback Travis Wilson hitting 8-of-23 passes for 55 yards, one interception and no touchdowns against Washington last week. From the Salt Lake Tribune:
"I really don't have a right answer or anything," Wilson said. "I have to make sure I do a better job and have a good week of practice and make sure I'm not making mistakes on my throwing. I need to improve and get a lot better than I did this Saturday."
Wilson was rattled. By the tone of the story, he still was on Monday. He got help from the run game and White's 142 yards on 22 carries, but after that, the offense was nothing to be impressed with.
Based on the play-calling of last week's games, you'd guess that the Wildcats are more comfortable admitting they're not going to give backup B.J. Denker too much pressure as a throwing quarterback. While Arizona showed against the Colorado Buffaloes -- OK, so it is the Buffaloes -- that it can win with fairly one-dimensional strategy, the Utes' lack of a passing game ended with just 188 total yards and a 34-15 blowout at the hands of the Washington Huskies.
At the very least, Rich Rodriguez put Denker in the right positions to be successful. Evidence was in the numbers. Denker was 12-of-14 on completions and threw for two touchdowns. On the other side, it wasn't a good sign either that Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham acknowledged pass protection problems and dropped passes to go along with his young quarterback's struggles.
If Utah need worry any more, nevermind that Steve Sarkisian's team put up 437 yards of total offense last week against the Utes. The Utah run defense led by Star Lotulelei gave up 162 yards on the ground to UW running back Bishop Sankey as the sophomore back took 36 carries on the day, two going for touchdowns.
And for Carey coming off what appeared to be an angry reaction to a bad UCLA contest a week prior, the Utes had better hope the UA back isn't still steaming.