Behind Enemy Lines: Utah
In an effort to bring you in-depth insight on the opposing teams that West Virginia plays, WVSports.com goes Behind Enemy Lines for insight on Utah and what to expect from the Utes in the Heart of Dallas Bowl from UteNation.com Writer Alex Markham.
1. Who will play quarterback for the Utes and does it change the offense any regardless of who it is? What are the strengths of Huntley and where does he need to improve?
Tyler Huntley will be behind center and his presence really opens up the whole offense. His greatest asset is the ability to extend plays, keeping his eyes down the field and only taking off when all options are covered. His greatest weakness is wanting to do too much. Sometimes he keeps the RPO, when it would be better to give it to Zack Moss. He needs to put himself into safer situations because he's missed time due to two injuries, this season.
2. Who else on offense stands out? What does this team do to attack opponents and what type of scheme do they use?
Zack Moss and Darren Carrington are the two guys West Virginia will have to worry about at all times. Had it not been for injuries, Carrington would have gone for well over 1,000 yards receiving. With Moss, many are wondering how insane his numbers could have been if they had gone to him more throughout the entire season, He went for over 1,000 yards rushing, while being greatly underutilized.
The Utes like to use a lot of RPO, to go along with quick passes. There has been varying degrees of success and lulls with it. The offensive line is still trying to perfect their technique to the new system, sometimes leading to frustrating penalties.
3. Same thing for the defensive side. Also is this an aggressive unit or does it like to keep things in front of it?
It's not as aggressive of a unit as I would like to see, compared to years past, but with a month to prepare, expect them to disguise a lot of stunts and blitzes. Guys to watch are linebacker Kavika Luafatasaga and cornerback Julian Blackmon. Luafatasaga is a beast when blitzing and very capable in coverage--he should have a good career on Sundays. Blackmon has two of the greatest traits a cornerback can have: a bulldog mentality and a short memory. Test him once, may the best man win. Test him twice, shame on you. It'll be a fun challenge in the bowl game, for both of these guys.
4. Kyle Wittingham has a great bowl record during his time at Utah. What do you think has led to that? Is there some secret or what has given the program so much success in those type of games?
It's his preparation and development of his players. There's usually always one player that has a good bowl game, that no one saw coming. It happens every time. Give Whittingham a month to prepare and he can go toe-to-toe with almost anyone. I wish I had a lengthier explanation for you on that, but it's really that simple with him.
5. What are your keys to this game and how do you see it playing out? Any injuries or suspensions of note?
Utah needs to apply defensive pressure, early and often. They need to get West Virginia's new starters at running back and quarterback, as uncomfortable as possible. If they can't do that, then Utah will have problems. Early on with Utah's offense, look for them to see what's going to work and then stick with it. It very well might be feeding Moss the rock and letting him go to work. Ultimately, I see West Virginia struggling with Grier and Crawford out. I'll go, Utah 34 WVU 24.