UTAH UTES

Utah Defense Anticipating Bo Nix, Tough Offensive Line

Nov 16, 2022, 9:38 AM
Clark Phillips III - Utah Utes vs. Oregon Ducks - Pac-12 Championship Game...
Clark Phillips III #8 of the Utah Utes knocks the ball away from Troy Franklin #11 of the Oregon Ducks during the third quarter of the PAC-12 Football Championship football game at Allegiant Stadium on December 03, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Utah Utes won 38-10. (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)
(Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY- A lot has been made about whether or not Oregon quarterback Bo Nix will play on Saturday after suffering some kind of injury in the Duck’s loss to Washington last weekend. There has also been some speculation as to who will roll out on Oregon’s offensive line. The Utah defense doesn’t seem to care and are going about practice like everyone for the Ducks will play.

According to head coach Kyle Whittingham, the Utes aren’t going to reinvent themselves so to speak. They are who they are and so is Oregon, but Whittingham was adamant this game would come down to who stays on task better.

“It’s deep into the season and you’re not going to reinvent yourself,” Whittingham said. “We just need to continue to polish up our core plays and keep the execution level where it needs to be. Continue to make no mental mistakes- we are making very few mental mistakes at this point and that’s got to continue. Tackle well on defense. You can only do so much in practice, don’t want to do too much to where you beat yourself up. Just staying sharp with everything we are doing and that includes the kicking game as well.”

Taking A Look At Oregon’s Offense Vs. Utah’s Defense

While Oregon’s strength doesn’t really come from their defense, it does from their offense. The Ducks currently rank fifth in third down conversions, first in fourth down conversions, first in first down offense, fourth in passing offense, fifth in red zone offense, second in rushing offense, second in scoring offense, first in passing efficiency, and first in total offense.

What makes this so interesting is the fact that despite how it feels, Utah has been finding strength in their defense. The Utes currently rank first in third down defense, first in fourth down defense, first in first down defense, first in passing yards allowed, nineth in red zone defense, third in rushing defense, second in scoring defense, third in pass efficiency defense, second in sacks, third in tackles for loss, and first in total defense.

 

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This begs the question, whose best wins out?

Cornerback Clark Phillips III expressed appreciation for what Nix brings to the Oregon offense and knows it’s going to be a great challenge slowing them down.

“He’s a good passer,” Phillips said. “I think he has the ability to escape the pocket and throw the ball. I think he has a lot of weapons.

Defensive line coach Lewis Powell noted the guys upfront protecting Nix will offer a test for his group that struggled early, but really seems to have turned things up a notch since playing USC.

“There is a lot of experience coming back from their crew,” Powell said. “I think it’s going to be a good matchup out of a lot of the guys we saw last year. I’m excited. I think it’s probably one of the best offensive lines as a group we’ve played against and we’re up to the challenge and excited about it.”

A Big Game

This weekend is a big one for the Pac-12 as a whole with No. 10 Utah travelling to No. 12 Oregon and N0. 7 USC heading up the road to No. 16 UCLA. Both games will determine who travels to Vegas in December for the Pac-12 Championship which means there is a lot riding for all four teams.

 

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Transfer linebacker Mohamoud Diabate lives for these kinds of moments. He told the media one of the most memorable games he’s ever played in was the SEC Championship and now the moment has arrived to try and get his new team to the Pac-12 Championship.

“The most memorable one was the SEC Championship,” Diabate said. “Florida versus Alabama 2020. It was a good game. We got to play Najee Harris, DeVonta Smith and it came down to the last possession so ever since then I’ve been wanting to get back to a Conference Championship. The opportunity is here.”

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