The Utah Utes host the Undefeated Huskies this weekend
This coming Saturday, Utah plays host to not one, but two powerhouse programs (of different natures). ESPN College Gameday is being hosted by Salt Lake City this weekend, in anticipation of the game of the week.
The Washington Huskies also roll into Salt Lake with a 7-0 record, and looking to keep their College Football Playoff hopes alive. The Utes hope to crush those dreams to achieve goals of their own.
We’ll have a more in-depth preview as the week goes on. Today we’ll be specifically pointing out five players that will should have a huge impact in the game on Saturday.
Jake Browning, Washington QB
This one feels obvious if you’ve paid attention to any College Football this season. Browning is a sleeper Heisman candidate, and leads the Pac-12 in nearly every passing category stat.
Browning will present a challenge for a Utah defense who got thrown on quite a bit last week by UCLA. If the Utes let him get into a rhythm, he’ll throw wherever he wants and put the game away quickly.
Getting pressure on Browning will be a huge key to make him force throws and potentially cause turnovers. With time however, the Utes won’t stand as much of a chance.
Joe Mathis, Washington DB
Mathis leads the Huskies in sacks, and is a force on that defensive line. His status is uncertain for Saturday, as he’s been dealing with an unspecified injury.
Last week against Oregon State, Washington didn’t need him as they cruised to an easy victory. However, this week they play an O-line who is much better than the one they saw a week ago
If Mathis can’t go, the Huskies will need to find help in the pash rush from another source to make the Utes offense uncomfortable.
Joe Williams, Utah RB
When a player has a record-breaking performance, it’s human nature to be curious how they will respond in the next game. Joe Williams is in an even more precarious situation, as Saturday is his first game back in Salt Lake since he un-retired on October 10th.
This highly anticipated matchup will already be full of emotion. Joe returning to Rice-Eccles after what he did a week ago adds a whole other level of intrigue.
How the Utes attack the Huskies defense will be a big factor in determining how this game goes. Ideally, the Utes would pound the ball on the ground and win the time of possession battle like they have all season. That strategy means we’ll see a whole lot of Joe Williams.
John Ross & Dante Pettis, Washington WRs
Grouping these two together, just because they will impact the game in the same way. Both provide Browning with big-time options on every passing play.
While combining for 943 receiving yards and 17 touchdowns this season, Ross and Pettis have shown the ability to both be primary targets in a dynamite offense.
After getting carved up for 464 yards a week ago, the Utes secondary will have their hands full trying to contain BOTH of these weapons. Utah needs a better performance than they gave a week ago.
Garett Bolles, Utah OL
Bolles came into the season from the FCS, and struggled to get used to the differences of D-1 football. Once he got over those early struggles, everyone could see the potential he had.
According to Pro Football focus, Utah’s Garett Bolles is the highest-graded run blocking OT in the country. Bolles will need to continue that high level of play this week. Continuing to open holes for Joe Williams to get into the open field will keep the offense rolling.
How Bolles run blocks and protects when Troy Williams looks to pass will go a long way in determining the type of game that this turns into.