UA ended nonconference play on the correct note by blowing out UTEP. The Wildcats scored nine touchdowns while holding the Miners to only 16 points. They look to keep the touchdowns flowing against Utah in their conference opener.
And here’s a quick look at the Utes, who are ranked 23rd in the AP Poll this week.
A look at Utah
2017 Record – 3-0 (0-0)
Games - Week one win versus North Dakota (37-16), week two win at BYU (19-13), week three win versus San Jose State (54-16)
Key Offensive Players – Tyler Huntley (QB), Zack Moss (RB), Darren Carrington II (WR),Salesi Uhatafe (OL)
Key Defensive Players – Lowell Lotulelei (DT), Filipo Mokofisi (DT), Kylie Fitts (DE), Kavika Luafatasaga (LB), Chase Hansen (SS),
Since Rich Rodriguez took over the Arizona head coaching job in 2012, he holds a 4-1 record against Utah with an average margin of victory of 15 points in those four wins. His lone loss came last season in a 36-23 heartbreaker as the Wildcats actually led 14-12 at halftime.
Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham selected Tyler Huntley as the starting quarterback despite having last season’s starting quarterback Troy Williams back for his senior year. Through nonconference play, Huntley has been impressive with a 72.1 completion percentage on 111 attempts for 868 yards and five touchdowns. It’s important to note that he is a dual-threat quarterback and leads the Utes in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns with 212 and three, respectively.
The second leading rusher on the team is starting running back Zack Moss. He is averaging a respectable 4.4 yards per carry. Huntley’s favorite target has clearly been Oregon transfer Darren Carrington which is easy to figure out why with his 6-foot-3, 205-pound frame. Carrington leads the team in receptions (26), receiving yards (409) and receiving touchdowns (four).
On the other side of the ball, Utah has their typical big trench players in Lowell Lotulelei and Filipo Mokofisi. They are the two standouts on an interior defensive line that averages just over 300 pounds per player. This group combined with Kylie Fitts and the other defensive ends are going to make it very difficult on UA’s running game.
Another box player to keep your eye is linebacker Kavika Luafatasaga. He is another typical Whittingham JUCO transfer standout who is capable of getting in the back field or effectively dropping back in coverage.
Strong safety Chase Hansen will see his fair share of time in the box. In 2016, Hansen led the Utes with 90 tackles, 12 passes defended and nine pass breakups. This will be another layer of difficulty not only for the running game but also the passing game.
Historically speaking, Whittingham has really struggled against RichRod’s offensive scheme. It likely has to do with clashing styles of play where the Wildcats’ quickness and agility poses issues for the bigger and stronger Utes. Friday night may be another one of those instances as conference play begins.