KEY MATCHUP: Utah vs. ISU
The no. 11 University of Utah Utes will take on a Big Sky opponent, Idaho State, on Saturqday in a matchup that is fully expected to be a lopsided affair. Because of this, the key matchup is a bit tricky. The Bengals most experienced position is at offensive line, where four players started 11 games in 2017. However, is it really a key matchup if Utah’s defensive line is considered arguably the best in all of college football?
Ultimately, as the Utes look to live up to their ranking and also show that they’re more deserving to be in the top 10 than an idle Michigan team, this matchup is all about their backups. It’s a game where fans should see plenty of guys get some reps that will ultimately end up redshirting.
Players that this game should be valuable for include: Jordan Wilmore (RB), Devin Brumfield (RB, Thomas Yasmin (TE), Terrell Perriman (WR), Donte Banton (WR), Vonte Davis (S), RJ Hubert (S), Malone Mataele (NB), JaTravis Broughton (CB), Bronson Boyd (CB), Sione Heimuli-Lund (LB), Trennan Carlson (LB), and Andrew Mataafa (LB).
The list can go on with the backups on both side of the trenches. Perhaps the biggest question will be whether the back up at quarterback is Drew Lisk or Jason Shelley? Last week, Lisk got the nod, as Shelley had some struggles in practice. However, if it’s playing time for more than just handing the ball off, it should be anticipated that it will be the Utes’ seasoned backup that led them all the way to the Pac-12 Championship in 2018.
Of the backups listed above, the ones that have the most to gain from this matchup are the linebackers and the wide receivers, as the Utes look to firm up a solid two-deep after Penn State transfer Manny Bowen left them high and dry. At receiver, Whittingham and receivers coach Guy Holliday want eight to ten guys they can rely on. Can Banton or Perriman show they’re already deserving of more playing time?
If the backups don’t prove to be the key matchup, then it’s time to sound the alarm. However, this Utes team is just too good, too talented, and too deep. While the program won’t just come out and admit it, it’s the perfect game to have right before Pac-12 play. They can rest the guys that they feel need to be rested and they all have the luxury of primarily preparing for USC for two weeks.