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Keys to the Game: Utah vs Fresno State

The Bulldogs, fresh off a beating at the hands of USC, are making their way to Rice-Eccles Stadium. What do the Utes need to do to get the win?

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

This week Utah hosts the Fresno State Bulldogs, who are coming off of a devastating 52-13 loss to #14 USC. While the score was lopsided to say the least, it's safe to say that Fresno State is not as bad as the score would lead you to believe. That being said, they do have plenty of issues. Utah on the other hand played a bad FCS team and while Utah won convincingly, they had a few hiccups of their own. Here are some key things to look for in week two.


Wilson and company will need to build on the momentum they gained last week; and the play book will be opened up just a little bit more on Saturday. Wilson will need to be efficient and sound in his decision making. Look for a healthy dose of Booker and Poole (who both averaged almost seven yards per carry last week), as the Bulldogs allowed 277 yards on the ground last week to USC. Attacking Fresno on the ground should be the focus on Saturday afternoon, and it will be nice to see this offensive line assert and prove themselves.


Utah will need to create some turnovers this week, unlike last week. The Utah defense was able to cause a fumble against Idaho State, however, they failed to recover and capitalize on the loose ball. They will also need to sure up the missed gap assignments they had last week by the defensive line and linebackers. Fresno State's RB Marteze Waller ran for 97 yards on 16 carries last week against a very stout 'SC defense. Utah cannot afford to be sloppy in their run defense on Saturday.

The secondary was picked on a little bit last week, and the coaching staff has taken steps to address that issue. Domonique Hatfield has been moved to corner primarily and listed as the co-starter alongside Davion Orphey, which will aid greatly in the defensive backfield. Another boost will be the return of nickel back Justin Thomas. Thomas was sidelined last week, and he adds speed and hands to the backfield which should pay off in the turnover battle.

Special Teams

Kaelin Clay is now the lone starter as punt returner, and he should be. Devontae Booker will be lined up next to him on kick returns, which makes for a formidable kick return duo. "Automatic" Andy Phillips may get a couple chances for FG's this week... did I mention his nickname is "Automatic"?

Overall, look for Utah to assert themselves very quickly. Ideally, Kendall Thompson should see some reps starting in the third quarter. Utah should win this game going away, but hey, it's college football and nothing is ever guaranteed.