Friday, September 30, 2011

Washington Huskies take on Utah Utes in key Pac-12 matchup

By Kshell

This saturday the Washington Huskies(3-1,1-0) travel to Salt Lake City to take on the Utah Utes(2-1,0-1) in a Pac-12 battle. This will be the Utes first ever home game in the Pac-12 so the crowd could play a factor. The Huskies and Utes don't have much of a history so this matchup should be interesting. For the Huskies this will be a homecoming game for senior captain Cort Dennison who played high school football in the state of Utah. Also for Steve Sarkisian who played college football for two seasons in this state. The Huskies are also hoping this trip to the state of Utah goes better than last years 23-17 loss to the Byu Cougars. For the Huskies their offense continues to be the story led by sophomore quarterback Keith Price who has 14 touchdown passes in only four games while throwing just three interceptions. For the Utes their quarterback has struggled in Jordan Wynn. Wynn has only thrown one interception in 99 pass attempts this year which is a key. The Utes are the type of team who will not make any mistakes which will be a tough battle with the Huskies. The Utes offense isn't explosive but they are a sound team who does the fundamentals really well.

The Utes are favored by 10 points in this game due to the coaching of Kyle Whittingham. Whittingham is 60-21(.741) with the Utes since he took over for Urban Meyer. The Utes don't turn the ball over as they are third in the entire nation in turnover margain. The defense has only allowed one run of over 15 yards meaning they are forcing teams to grind out drives on them. The Utes are led by their running back John White who through three games has ran for 361 yards(5.9 YPC) with five rushing touchdowns. Their quarterback Jordan Wynn has struggled this year completing only 54.5% of his throws for 578 yards(5.8 YPA) with five touchdowns to just one interception. His main receiver is Devonte Christopher who had 16 receptions for 205 yards with two touchdowns. The Utes don't have any explosive players but they make up for it by playing the game right. The Utes won't be turning the ball over, giving up big plays or making stupid penalties. While the Huskies will have to match the Utes intensity to win this game.

For the Huskies to win this game they must see improvement from their defense which was shown last week. The Huskies defense is led by senior captain Cort Dennison who is from Salt Lake City, Utah. Dennison has been playing great ball the last three games and must continue now that Hau'oli Jamora is out for the season. The defense who has been torched all season long had a nice bounce back performance last week. The Huskies began the game allowing a 90 yard touchdown pass only to allow a single touchdown the rest of the game. The Huskies allowed three second half points last week and held the California Golden Bears to just nine points on four trips inside the 10 yard line. The Huskies defense should have some success against an Utes offense which isn't explosive. As always the Huskies offense will be asked to score plenty of points this week.

The Huskies offense is led by sophomore quarterback Keith Price who has surprised everyone this season. For the year Price is completing 67.0% of his passes for 983 yards(8.8 YPA) with 14 touchdowns to just three interceptions. Last week Price connected with true freshman tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins for two touchdowns. Seferian-Jenkins who had celebrated his birthday this week has made a big difference for the Huskies this season. Seferian-Jenkins has nine receptions for 170 yards with three touchdowns on the season. Look for the Huskies to continue to use the big tight end and he'll open up other players. The Huskies also have stud running back Chris Polk who has rushed for 414 yards(4.8 YPC) with three touchdowns. Polk also has seven receptions for 112 yards with a touchdown. Including a career high 85 yards receiving last week. The Huskies offense is averaging 34.8 points per game will be expected to keep playing like they have done so all year long. For Price he may be a sophomore but he is playing like a mature senior quarterback this season so don't look for him to be rattled by the crowd noise. Sarkisian has his offense in year three going in the right direction as the Huskies appear to be loaded with plenty of weapons.

In conclusion, the Huskies face a tough test against an opponent that most think they have no chance against. The Huskies offense can score some points on the Utes while the defense is capable of keeping the score lower than people think. The Utes are a well coached team who simply doesn't make mistakes so the Huskies have to win this game instead of waiting for the Utes to lose the game. The key is turnovers as the Huskies can't afford to be turning the ball over and giving the Utes a short field position all game like they did against Nebraska. This will be a fun Pac-12 game as the winner will most likely jump into the top 25 polls next week. While the loser will still make a bowl game they will be playing in the bowl instead of a bowl game that can net recruits. We'll find out this Saturday if the Huskies program is ready to take that big step.

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