The Edge: Utah Utes vs. Utah State Aggies

By Chris Kamrani, Asst. Sports Editor

Quarterback

Once again, it’s Brian Johnson in a one versus two matchup at quarterback. With the Utes now 2-0, Johnson has gone 36-for-57 and 488 yards in two games. The Aggie duo of Sean Setzer and Diondre Borel has tossed for 421 yards in two games8212;combined. Borel is the Corbin Louks-type quarterback that comes in and disrupts defenses with speed and agility, but he can also throw the ball. He has 53 more yards than Setzer this year. Borel also leads the Aggies’ rushing yards with 101. Johnson is obviously the superior talent, and will look to kick-start the Utah offense early and often in Romney Stadium Saturday night.
Edge: Utah

Running back

Matt Asiata and Darrell Mack seem to be doing just fine sharing reps. A week after Asiata bulldozed the Michigan defense, Mack slammed his way for 68 yards against the UNLV defense. Asiata has 111 yards to Mack’s 85, but the Utes have yet to have a 100-yard rusher in a game this season. After Utah State got manhandled by the Oregon rushing game, the Utes must be licking their chops in anticipation. The Aggies’ rushing attack features Curtis Marsh Jr. Marsh’s father, Curtis Sr., was a wide receiver for the Utes in the mid-1990s. True freshman Robert Turbin is currently second on the Aggies’ team in rushing yards accumulated at 62.
Edge: Utah

Wide receiver

Johnson’s two 6-foot-3-inch targets8212;Freddie Brown and Bradon Godfrey8212;lead the Utes in receiving yards with 119 and 115 yards, respectively. Speedsters Jereme Brooks and Brent Casteel follow up with 87 and 84 yards receiving. Johnson arguably has the best and most versatile corps of receivers in the MWC and will look to share the ball all over the field. The Aggies have a legitimately talented wideout in senior Otis Nelson. Nelson is a long-ball threat and leads the team in 104 yards with 11 receptions. Keep an eye out on Doug Barbour; a big, burly 6-foot-4-inch tight end who can catch the ball well.
Edge: Utah

Offensive line

The Utah offensive line played superbly against UNLV, allowing Brian Johnson time to pick apart the Rebel secondary. The big guys get a boost this week with the return of starting left tackle Zane Beadles. Beadles, who was saddled with a sore knee since the Michigan victory, will return to help anchor the line with Robert Conley. The Aggies feature a strong veteran group on the front five. Seniors Ryan Tonnemacher and Derek Hoke anchor the line and will look to corral U defensive ends Paul Kruger and Koa Misi.
Edge: Utah

Defensive line

Can two indefinite injuries actually be a positive? The boatload of the bulk is carried by the tenacious defensive ends in Kruger and Misi, but stopping the run will be a key cog for the Utes next week against Air Force. Can the likes of Derrick Shelby and Aaron Tonga be the plugs that two outside Tasmanian devils need to attack the quarterback? For the Aggies, junior Darby Golden and senior Ben Calderwood are among the top tacklers on the team with 10 and nine, respectively. Allowing 408 yards rushing is nothing to dwell on. Wait, yes; yes, it is.
Edge: Utah

Linebacker

The Ute linebackers certainly showed up to hit UNLV nemesis Frank Summers square in the mouth. After allowing Summers to go off for 83 first-half yards, Stevenson Sylvester and Mike Wright hassled him the entire second half. Sylvester finished with nine total tackles and Wright laid Summers out of bounds; there was a little jawing going on after the hit, and it could have been necessary for Wright to send that message. The linebacking corps for the Aggies is headed up by sophomore middle linebacker Jordan Glass, who is fourth on the team in total tackles with 13.
Edge: Utah

Secondary

After finishing No. 11 in overall pass defense efficiency last year, it looks to be the same old song and dance this year for the Utes and, most notably, their opponents. Opponents of the Utes average 4.8 yards per pass, while the U offense features 8.8. Also, the secondary has kept the average passing yards to 163 yards per game this season. The boost of roaming free safety Robert Johnson’s return is key, but substitute Terrell Cole played a terrific game last week in Johnson’s stead. Much like Utah, Utah State’s secondary features strictly juniors and seniors. Free safety Caleb Taylor leads the team in tackles with 18 and one interception.
Edge: Utah

Special teams

The U offense gave Louie Sakoda the day off in terms of no field goals and strictly chip-shot PATs. Sakoda’s punts have been so astounding that neither Michigan nor UNLV has fielded a Utah punt this year. David Reed almost took one to the house at the beginning of the third quarter against UNLV, and John Peel solidified himself as the punt return man. Aggies kicker Peter Caldwell is 2-for-2 on field goal attempts this year, and after losing NFL draftee and return specialist Kevin Robinson, the Aggies have no chance of replacing what he accomplished8212;or his dangerous speed.
Edge: Utah

Coaching

The Utes have reeled off 10 straight wins against the Aggies and head coach Brent Guy is on the hot seat. The question for Guy’s Aggies is, “Can they show up after a 66-24 thrashing at the hands of Oregon?” It’s Utah State’s home-opener and the Logan faithful will be out in full force, but expect the sheer talent and coaching difference between the Aggies and the Utes. These two teams do not meet again until 2012, so the Utes will be looking for some fireworks on both sides of the ball.
Edge: Utah