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Oregon vs. Utah Preview: Offense

The Ducks open Pac-12 play against the Utah Utes, who have the offensive tools to mount an upset.

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Last November, the Ducks faced Utah on the road in a game where the final score was hardly telling of how the game actually looked. The Utes, who were in control early, nearly took a 14-0 lead on the first play of the second quarter when Travis Wilson hit Kaelin Clay for what appeared to be an easy touchdown. Instead, Clay dropped the ball early, Joe Walker eventually scooped it up and took it the other way for a touchdown, and the rest was history. If you need a refresher, I've included the play below with the radio call from the Utah side, which makes it even better.

Kaelin Clay may be gone, but some of the same weapons for Utah return for 2015. Let's take a closer look at their offense and highlight some guys to watch for on Saturday night in Eugene.


Utah's quarterback situation going into Saturday's game is largely a mystery for the most part. Neither Utah or Oregon has officially named a starter for this weekend, but it will most likely be Travis Wilson for the Utes. Wilson sat out Utah's last game against Fresno State with a sprained shoulder, but should be good to go against Oregon. In Utah's season opener against Michigan at home, Wilson completed 24-of-33 passes for 210 yards with no touchdowns and one interception.

But if Wilson isn't ready to go, or struggles early, we could see a mid-game switch again from Utah with Kendal Thompson at the ready. Last year against Oregon, Thompson was firing on all cylinders, and it looked as if he was going to have the kind of night to lead his team to a huge upset win. But on Utah's second possession, Thompson went down with a knee injury and was lost for the year.

Against Fresno State last week, Thompson completed 19-of-25 passes for 159 yards with one touchdown and one interception. If he does indeed see the field on Saturday, he'll hope for a similar start to the one he had last year against Oregon, but a healthier finish.

Both quarterbacks are perfectly capable of leading Utah to a win. The big question mark, of course, is who the Ducks will actually see on the field Saturday night.

Running Backs

Devontae Booker is the star of Utah's backfield. So far this year, Booker has 84 carries for 345 yards and four touchdowns through three games. Against Utah State and Fresno State, Booker carried the ball 31 times in each game for 120 yards (Utah State) and 156 yards (Fresno State). He's also a part of Utah's passing game as well with 14 catches for 126 yards and is just two yards shy of being Utah's leading receiver to this point.

No matter who starts at quarterback for the Utes, shutting down Booker will be a top priority for the Ducks on Saturday. He's a physical back who can create headaches for opposing defenses, metaphorically and literally, in this case.

Wide Receivers

Utah returned several key starters on offense, but did lose Kaelin Clay. Despite Clay's bonehead play against Oregon last year, he was Utah's leading receiver in 2014 with 43 catches for 523 yards and four touchdowns.

The Utes are struggling through the air so far this season and have thrown just one touchdown pass in three games. Utah's leading receiver to this point is Britain Covey, a smaller receiver (5-8, 166 lbs.) who has 14 catches for 127 yards. But like many undersized receivers, Covey has the speed to be lethal.

Tight end Siale Fakailoatonga would've had Utah's first receiving touchdown of the year last weekend against Fresno State, but had an embarrassing mishap that kept him out of the end zone. Fakailoatonga caught a pass over the middle from Kendal Thompson, and had a clear path to the end zone, but tripped up on his own just steps after hauling in the pass.

Kenneth Scott, one of Utah's top receivers last year, has been relatively quiet to start 2015. In three games so far, Scott has just six catches for 49 yards and no touchdowns. But that doesn't mean he shouldn't be factored into Saturday's game plan. At 6-3, 208 lbs., Scott is a big, physical receiver who is just waiting for his breakout game.

X-Factor: Devontae Booker

If there is one guy the Ducks need to focus on shutting down this weekend, it's Devontae Booker. He's a dual-threat both in the backfield and through the air. It's a coin-toss who will be starting at quarterback for the Utes, but we know for certain Booker will be in the backfield no matter what and will be itching for a big game. Booker has back-to-back games where he has rushed for over 100 yards and will look to do the same against the Ducks. For Oregon, DeForest Buckner said their main goal is to stop Booker. Do that, and the Ducks will win. But if Oregon can't contain Booker, we could be in for peak #Pac12AfterDark.