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Previewing Sack Lake City

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The Utes are lights out on defense

Southern Utah v Utah Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images

Outside of the Huskies, the Utes hold the most feared defense in the conference. They get after the quarterback and have garnered the nickname “Sack Lake City”. The young offensive line will have their hands full for Oregon if they want to get out of this one (have we heard that before?).

The leader:

Head coach Kyle Whittingham has his hands on this defense but it’s Morgan Scalley who is the defensive coordinator for the Utes. Scalley is in his first season as defensive coordinator after spending multiple seasons coaching the secondary at Utah. In his tenure he has coached a plethora of defensive backs that have gone on to an NFL career. They run a base 4-3 and rely on their line to get to the quarterback without sending much pressure.

Stats:

The Utes are certainly one of the most feared defenses in the conference, although they have had some bumps in the road en route to their 8-2 record. The worst came when they gave up 45 to UCLA and 31 to Washington. Regardless, opponents are putting up just 23 points a game against the Utes. They’re doing so on 120 yards per game on the ground while averaging 249 passing yards per game.

The Utes defense has been phenomenal getting teams off the field as opponents convert on just 37% of the time on third down and 44% of the time on fourth down. In the redzone, on 25 trips opponents have scored touchdowns 16 times and field goals 6 times. Sack Lake City is no joke as the Utes have 35 sacks for 200 lost yards. They’ve also picked off the quarterback 17 times, while forcing 16 fumbles to recover 8.

I hate looking at last year’s game, but it needs to be done. Oregon quarterbacks combined for a less than 50% completion percentage while throwing two touchdowns and two interceptions. Oregon actually didn’t do that bad on the ground as they put up 222 yards.

Three players to watch:

Hunter Dimick, #49, senior defensive end, 6' 3", 272 lbs.

Dimick is an absolute machine for the Utes defense. So far this season he has 17.5 tackles for loss along with 12 sacks. His best game came against Arizona State where he put up 6.5 sacks.

Chase Hansen, #22, sophomore defensive back, 6' 3", 216 lbs.

The sophomore leads the way for the Utes with his 64 tackles. He also is second on the team with his 3 interceptions. He finds a way to make plays though as he leads the team in both forced fumbles and fumble recoveries.

Pita Taumoepenu #50, senior defensive end, 6’ 1”, 245 lbs.

Say that name five times fast. Taumoepenu is another sack machine for this Utes defense with his seven along with nine tackles for loss. Along with Dimick they could make this a very long afternoon for the Ducks.