Utah Utes head into the Rose Bowl hoping to stay hot
Coming off a messy and ugly win a week ago, the Utah Utes are looking to get a win on the road against a solid UCLA team.
Questions are swirling around both teams. Will Josh Rosen be healthy? How will Joe Williams look a week after rushing 34 times? Which touted defense will live up to their reputation?
There seems to be more questions than answers going into the game, but here’s a preview for what to expect Saturday afternoon.
The biggest question we’re all looking for an answer to is will Josh Rosen play? If so, how effective will he be playing at less than 100%?
Currently the best info we have is coach Jim Mora saying he is “very very hopeful” Rosen can play. There is definitely a chance we see Rosen this weekend. Against a smothering Utah front line though, will he be able to affect the game like he normally does?
Mike Fafaul, the back-up QB under normal circumstances, passed for 258 yards last week against Washington State. He also threw for three touchdowns and two interceptions, against a middle of the pack defense.
Other than solid quarterback play, this offense hasn’t had much going. They average a Pac-12 worst 91.1 rushing yards a game, causing the offense to be, at times, one dimensional.
UCLA’s big draw without Rosen is their athletic defense. The Bruins tout the best passing defense in the Pac-12, allowing just 50.6% completion percentage and just 1.1 touchdown passes per game (according to www.sports-reference.com).
In the next few days we’ll hopefully hear more about Rosen’s status, and have a better feel for what type of offense we will be seeing. Either way the defense will dictate how this game goes for UCLA.
This coming week will show a lot about the Utes resolve, and how good of a team they actually are. UCLA is much better than their 3-3 record would lead you to believe. Don’t forget that the Rose Bowl is always a tough place to play.
The biggest thing i’m looking for from Utah is how Joe Williams looks in his second week back. With Zack Moss questionable to play, Williams will carry much of the load at running back once again.
Like I mentioned earlier, UCLA has the best passing defense in the conference. This may cause Troy Williams to struggle making plays. The offense will need to get positive yards on the ground as often as possible, putting an even bigger burden on Joe Williams.
One area to watch out for will be how Utah’s defense plays without starting safety Marcus Williams and starting linebacker Sunia Tauteoli. If the Utes are going to win this game, someone will need to step up on the defensive side of the football.
With all of the injury questions on both sides of the ball, figuring out how this game is going to go is a pointless exercise. With the strength of both defenses, I don’t see very many points being scored.
Until we know if Josh Rosen’s is playing or not, I can’t convince myself that UCLA can score enough against this Utah defense to stay competitive.
I think the Utes will get just enough from Joe Williams to open the field for Troy Williams. Troy should then be able to make a few plays down the field, and that will be the difference here.