UTAH UTES

Stanford Vs. Utah May Come Down To Who Is Healthiest

Nov 11, 2022, 10:24 AM | Updated: 3:07 pm
Micah Bernard - Utah Utes vs. Stanford Cardinal...
Utah Utes running back Micah Bernard (2) runs the ball for a touchdown, putting the Utes up 52-7 after the PAT in the game against the Stanford Cardinal in Stanford, Calif. on Friday, Nov. 5, 2021. (Spenser Heaps, Deseret News)
(Spenser Heaps, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY-ย In the early days of the Pac-12 the two teams you never wanted on your schedule were Stanford and Utah because you’d be feeling it days after the fact. These days the Utes still hold the same reputation, but the Cardinal has slipped from the physicality they were once known for. On Saturday the two teams will face off at Rice-Eccles Stadium and the game may be determined by who is the healthiest.

Both Utah and Stanford have been beaten up. From Utah’s perspective it’s a little hard to know where they stand due to head coach Kyle Whittingham not talking about injuries unless they are season-ending. What we do know about Utah heading into this contest injury-wise is quarterback Cam Rising hasn’t been 100% and Dalton Kincaid missed the game against Arizona. Now there are some questions about whether running backs Jaylon Glover and Ja’Quinden Jackson will be ready to go.

Stanford on the other hand does talk about their injuries and while they are banged up, as of Tuesday it’s not looking as bleak for the Cardinal as it once did.ย  Last week Stanford had four defensive players go out of their game with WSU in linebackers Lavani Damuni and Ricky Miezan, while safeties Patrick Fields and Kendall Williamson also came out.

Another interesting component of Saturday’s contest of course stems from revenge. Utah travelled to Palo Alto last year and absolutely humiliated Stanford in 52-7 contest where the Utes flirted with 500 yards rushing. There is no doubt that David Shaw and the Cardinal have not forgotten about that- especially fresh off of a 52-14 loss to Washington State last week.

Breaking Down The Stanford Cardinal

Stanford’s Bradford M. Freeman Director of Football (head coach) David Shaw has been with the Cardinal as the head guy in charge since 2011. In that time, he has helped lead Stanford to three Pac-12 Championships, and five Pac-12 North Division Titles. However, the past few seasons have seen a decline in production for Stanford- especially the last two years.

The Cardinal sit at 3-6 heading into Salt Lake City and need to win out if they want to be bowl eligible. In 2022 not much has gone right for Stanford and it seems like a tall task, but when they have been on, they have eeked-out some decent wins against Arizona State and Notre Dame. The losses have been bad though and the schedule doesn’t get easier with Utah, BYU, and Cal left on the schedule.

Shaw will be looking to quarterback Tanner McKee to lead the charge and get the ball out to Stanford’s top playmakers. McKee is a guy with NFL potential- has the size and arm, but sometimes has had a difficult time with decision making. In 2022 McKee has completed 193 passes for 2,208 yards, 11 touchdowns and seven interceptions.

Much like Utah, Stanford appreciates the power of a pass-catching tight end and have a good one in Benjamin Yurosek who is the Cardinal’s third leading receiver. So far Yurosek has caught 41 passes for 372 yards and a touchdown.

Stanford also has a pretty good stable of receivers. Their top two pass-catchers are Elijah Higgins and Michael Wilson. Higgins and reeled in 37 receptions for 453 yards and a touchdown, while Wilson has brought in 26 receptions for 418 yards and four touchdowns.

Running the ball got tricky for Stanford’s starting ball carrier E.J. Smith (son of Emmitt Smith) when he went down with injury earlier in the season. With Smith no longer available, the Cardinal look to Casey Filkins to lead the ground attack. Filkins currently has 122 carries for 478 yards and four touchdowns.

Defensively is where things could get very hairy for Stanford in Saturday’s contest as their top three players are questionable. Damuni, Williamson, and Fields were three of the four players who went out against the Cougars, and they lead the stat chart for Stanford.

Damuni has recorded 52 tackles for Stanford, one sack, two passes defended, one interception and one forced fumble. Williamson has 49 tackles to his name, two passes defended, one interception, and one forced fumble. Fields has added 40 tackles, two sacks, and one pass defended.

With the Utes having some injury questions on offense and Stanford on defense, it could make for a very interesting matchup that could go a long way to determining the game depending on who can and can’t go.

 

Michelle Bodkin is the Utah Utes Insider for KSLsports.com and host of both the Crimson Corner Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and The Saturday Show (Saturday from 10 a.m.โ€“12 p.m.) on The KSL Sports Zone. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram: @BodkinKSLsports

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