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First Look: Utah Utes

Base statistics (per-game averages unless otherwise specified):

Travis Wilson is the key to stopping Utah's offense.

Total yards: 399.8
First downs via rush: 9.4
First downs via pass: 8.8
Total yards given up: 382.2
First downs given up via pass: 11.0
Total first downs given up: 19.9

Looking at Utah's 2013 team stats, the first thing that stands out is how symmetrical they are. Granted the team is 4-5 and one of those losses is by a single point, but it's rare to find a team with offensive and defensive markers so close together.

On offense, everything relies on sophomore quarterback Travis Wilson. As he goes, so do the Utes chances week in and week out. In Utah wins, Wilson averages a completion percentage of 67.2 as opposed to 45.5 in losses. Further, he's thrown 9 touchdowns to only one interception in the Utes' four wins, but seven and 15 respectively in losses.

Wilson is also Utah's second leading rusher with 342 yards, only 153 behind sophomore running back James Poole. Like Wilson, Poole is also a dual threat player – he comes into Saturday's as Utah's fourth-leading receiver out of the backfield.

Defensively, Utah is led by linebackers Trevor Riley and Jared Norris, currently the only two Utes with over 50 tackles on the season. Riley also paces the team's pass rush with six sacks on the season, double that of his closet teammate.

Where the Utes struggle on defense is in the turnover department. Utah has only forced two interceptions on the entire year – for reference, Oregon has three players with two or more picks this season. The Utes don't fare much better when it comes to fumbles, only forcing nine in 2013 (Oregon's forced 13).

Later this week, I'll take a closer look at the system Utah uses on offense, and why it is that four receivers average 13 yards or more a catch.

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