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Opponent Preview: Washington State Defense

NCAA Football: Washington State at Southern California Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Having surrendered 36.33 points per game, Washington State’s defense is hardly a force to be reckoned with in 2020, especially considering Utah’s improvements on the offensive side of the ball over the last two weeks. In fact, Wazzu ranks 94th nationally in total defense, making them the lowest ranked defense the Utes have faced.

Senior linebacker Jahad Woods (6’1”, 230 lbs.) looks to be the most dangerous weapon the Cougars defense will field on Saturday morning, having accounted for 22 total tackles, one sack for two yards, two pass deflections and a forced fumble through three games. Woods is talented enough to be disruptive against a shaky Utes offense, but if the same team shows up that we saw against Oregon State and Colorado, he may not have an opportunity to flex his prowess as much as the folks in Pullman would like.

Leading tackler Daniel Isom (senior, 6’0”, 199 lbs.) will look to secure his top spot in his final game of the season with 23 total tackles, however the competition is stiff, with Woods just one tackle shy, and a pair of defensive backs in Armani Marsh (junior, 5’10”, 177 lbs.) and George Hicks III (senior, 6’0”, 177 lbs.) both within six tackles of gaining the top spot, though with Utah’s rushing attack taking center stage behind freshman Ty Jordan’s recent surge, the secondary may find fewer opportunities to pad their stat lines.

Interestingly enough, the various schedule changes throughout the season means Utah will have faced all of their originally scheduled North division opponents with the exception of Cal by the time Saturday concludes, though in a different venue as Utah plays host. Having had an opportunity to sure up the offense before taking on a young Washington team the next week is just one of the many “what-ifs” that are sure to plague fans over the next eight months as they look back on a season littered with drama.