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Opponent Preview: Oregon State’s Defense

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NCAA Football: California at Oregon State Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Oregon State’s defensive unit ranks 82nd nationally, allowing an average of 6.26 yards per play and 432 yards per game. Easily the weakest defense the Utes have faced so far this season, Utah should have little problem moving the ball in their final home game of 2020. That is assuming their turnover problems have been corrected.

Through just two games, Utah’s offense has committed nine turnovers, with four lost fumbles and five interceptions, killing several scoring opportunities and likely costing them a woulda coulda shoulda victory over Washington last week. If the turnover problem persists, Oregon State is ready with a ball hocking secondary.

Juniors defensive backs Jaydon Grant (6’0”, 182 lbs.) and Nakhon Wright (6’4”, 188 lbs.) have recorded two interceptions each on the season, with junior linebacker John McCartan (6’5”, 226 lbs.) also notching an INT in week three against Cal. Couple that with freshman DB Akili Arnold’s (5’11”, 187 lbs.) forced fumble recovered by fellow freshman DB Alex Austin (6’1”, 176 lbs.) to seal the win over Oregon in the closing seconds of the game. Overall, it looks as though Utah’s turnover issues are likely to continue in their third game of the season.

Thankfully, Utah’s offensive line should continue to impress, with the Beavers struggling to pressure opposing quarterbacks this season, getting just four sacks so far in 2020. Linebackers Omar Speights (sophomore, 6’1”, 232 lbs.) and Avery Roberts (junior, 6’1”, 225 lbs.) have been been the most impressive, with Speights recording a solo two yard sack against Cal, along with 31 total tackles on the year, with Roberts connecting with junior lineman Isaac Hdgins (6’0”, 265 lbs.) for an assisted sack this season, to go along with a team-high 44 total tackles.

Utah has put themselves in a must-win situation going into their third game if they have any chance of recording a winning season. If the errors fans witnessed in the first three games persist, we should all remain thankful that a full season wasn’t an option in 2020.