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Bradlee Anae Records Three Sacks, Makes Case For Top Pass Rusher In Pac-12

Utah Utes defensive end Bradlee Anae (6) flexes his bicep after sacking Northern Illinois Huskies quarterback Ross Bowers (12) during second half action in the University of Utah versus Northern Illinois football game at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019. (Steve Griffin, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – After picking up three sacks and a forced fumble in Utah’s 35-17 win over Northern Illinois, defensive end Bradlee Anae is making a strong case as the best pass rusher in the Pac-12.

After leading the conference with eight sacks last season, Anae is already on track to surpass last season’s mark and finish his senior season on a high note. He had to get pressure on the Northern Illinois quarterback without the services of star defensive tackle Leki Fotu, who missed the game due to an undisclosed injury.

Anae has 20 career sacks after the three he picked up on Saturday. He is 10 sacks away from breaking the school record set by defensive end Hunter Dimick, who played for the Utes from 2013-16.

Here are the other two takeaways “Three Point Stance” from Utah’s win over NIU on the Crimson Corner podcast:

Tyler Huntley Very Efficient

The numbers may not stand out after the first two games of the season, but quarterback Tyler Huntley has been extremely efficient for the Utes. Through two games, Huntley has completed 27 of his 35 pass attempts for 320 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions.

After throwing just 106 yards against BYU with just three incompletions, the senior quarterback improved the amount of yards per pass against NIU to 11.3.

Huntley hasn’t turned the ball over, neither has the Utes as a team. Against BYU, he didn’t have any touchdowns throwing or rushing but against the Huskies, Huntley passed for a touchdown, connecting with Jaylen Dixon on a 14-yard strike in the fourth quarter. He also had a 16-yard rushing touchdown in the second quarter to give the Utes a 14-7 lead.

On the ground, Huntley carried the ball three times for 38 yards on Saturday and has a total 77 yards through two games.

Wide Receivers Sharing The Love

After two games, we can only compare performances from both games. Against BYU, Utah had 13 catches and 106 yards. Wide receiver Demari Simpkins had the most receptions with 4, tight end Brant Kuithe had 3, Zack Moss had two, while Solomon Enis, Jaylen Dixon, Britain Covey and Samson Nacua each hauled in one reception.

Kuithe’s 37 yards, Simpkins 35 yards and Enis’ 12 yards were the only players to reach double figures in receiving yards against BYU.

It was a different story against Northern Illinois with seven different players getting at least one catch for the Utes for a total of 14 catches. Dixon had the most receptions with 4, followed by two receptions each from Bryan Thompson, Derrick Vickers, Covey and Simpkins. Kuithe and Hunter Thedford each had one catch. Although, it is just one more catch than the BYU game, Utah had 214 receiving yards on Saturday.

Thompson led the unit with 66 yards and all but one player who had a catch had at least 20 yards receiving.

The Utes will look to improve their passing game even more this Saturday when they host Idaho State in their final non-conference game. The game will kickoff at 2:15 and will be broadcast on the Pac-12 Network.