SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — No. 11 Utah is rightly known for its defense but this season the Utes are also making an impression on the other side of the ball.
Utah (2-0) hasn’t committed a turnover or allowed a sack through its first two games. The Utes are also second in the Pac-12 in rushing offense with 227.5 yards per game.
Though his stats haven’t been as eye-popping, quarterback Tyler Huntley has been efficient in the passing game. Huntley’s 77.1 completion percentage ranks third in the Pac-12. The senior also had an FBS-best 98.6 quarterback rating in his team’s 35-17 victory over Northern Illinois last week.
Utah coach Kyle Whittingham credited Huntley for consistently making intelligent decisions within the framework of first-year offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig’s offense.
“He’s got a great deal of confidence right now in what he’s doing,” Whittingham said. “He’s got a great grasp of what Andy’s scheme is all about.”
All of which will make the task of taking on the Utes on Saturday that much more difficult for Idaho State (1-0).
The Bengals beat DII opponent Western Colorado 38-13 in their opener. Matt Struck had an impressive debut at quarterback, throwing for 402 yards and four touchdowns. He had the highest single-game passing yardage total for a Bengal quarterback in his debut since Justin Arias racked up 439 yards against Dixie State in 2013.
Getting similar numbers against Utah’s defense will be a challenge.
The Utes’ Julian Blackmon has come away with an interception in back-to-back weeks. The Utes also completely stifled Northern Illinois’ offense after halftime a week ago, allowing just 69 second-half yards.
“They’re all good players,” Idaho State coach Rob Phenicie said. “They don’t seem to have a weakness.”
Here are other things to know when Utah hosts Idaho State:
Bradlee Anae’s fingerprints were all over Utah’s defensive performance against Northern Illinois last week. Anae had three sacks against the Huskies while moving his career total to 20. The senior defensive end needs 10 sacks to overtake Hunter Dimick’s school record of 29.5. Anae has made it a goal to break that record, as well as Nate Orchard’s single-season record of 18.5 sacks.
“I’m just trying to leave a mark as best as I can here at the University of Utah,” Anae said. “I didn’t come here just to be another player.”
Zack Moss has a chance to climb the ladder on a pair of all-time rushing lists at Utah on Saturday. Moss needs just 11 carries to move into fifth place in school history for career rushing attempts. He currently has 524. Moss also needs 78 yards to move into second place on Utah’s career rushing yardage list. His 2,918 career rushing yards rank fifth among active FBS players.
Tanner Conner put himself on the radar with a career-best performance in Idaho State’s opener. Conner finished with 173 yards and 10 catches against Western Colorado for his first 100-yard receiving game. He totaled 172 receiving yards over his first two seasons with the Bengals.
Idaho State’s rare wins against FBS opponents have not included victories over Pac-12 teams. The Bengals are 0-15 against the league, most recently falling to California 45-23 last season. Utah owns seven of those wins over Idaho State. The Utes trounced the Bengals 56-14 in the most recent meeting between the two schools in 2014.
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