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As stated before, Washington State sells out for the passing game and Halliday has completed passes to 15 different receivers this season. The leading receiver, Gabe Marks, was held without a catch against Arizona, but has generally been the go-to guy for Halliday, catching 63 passes for 721 yards and six touchdowns in 2013. Vince Mayle and Domonique Williams are other players to watch for the Cougars. The duo has combined for 881 yards and nine touchdowns this season.
Edge: Washington State
The Utes’ offensive line held up well for the most part against Oregon, surrendering only one sack and keeping Schulz upright in the pocket. After giving up nine total sacks against Arizona State and USC, it’s encouraging to see Utah’s pass protection hold up well on the road against a quality opponent. Utah is tied with Washington State for sixth in the Pac-12 with 22 surrendered sacks.
Despite getting the victory on the road last week, Washington State gave up four sacks against Arizona. After giving up three sacks against Arizona State, almost one-third of the Cougars’ surrendered sacks in 2013 have come in the last two weeks.
If there is one unit the Utes can be proud of this season, it’s the play of the defensive line, which still leads the conference with 36 sacks. Utah sacked the very elusive and athletic Marcus Mariota three times and racked up six tackles for loss. Overall, the Utes have 71 tackles for loss this season and should be able to get significant heat on Halliday to keep him uncomfortable. Trevor Reilly, who has 15 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks this season, will have to make a significant impact to keep the Cougars’ passing game in check.
Washington State ranks near the bottom of the Pac-12 in sacks with only 17 this season, less than half of Utah’s total. The Cougars only got to Arizona quarterback BJ Denker once last week and sacked Arizona State quarterback Taylor Kelly only twice the week before. Xavier Cooper is the player to watch for Washington State. The redshirt sophomore has 10.5 tackles for loss and four sacks this season along with two fumble recoveries.
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