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Jameson McCausland

Utah Preview: Offense

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Texas will look to finish the 2019 season a positive note with a victory in the Alamo Bowl against a Utah squad that was on the doorstep of the College Football Playoff prior to losing the PAC 12 title game. The Utes will provide a good test for the Longhorns as they begin to close the book on the 2019 season and look ahead to 2020. Let’s take a look at what to expect from the Utah offense:

Quarterback

Senior quarterback Tyler Huntley leads the Utes offense and will enter the Alamo Bowl with plenty of experience under his belt. Huntley has steadily progressed throughout his career and a very good senior season, completing a little under 74% of his passes and throwing for just shy of 3,000 yards. Huntley has only thrown 4 interceptions on the season and does a good job of limiting turnovers.

2 of Huntley’s 4 interceptions came in the PAC 12 championship game against Oregon, which held Huntley to below 200 yards passing. The Longhorns will look to replicate that performance and hope to put the veteran quarterback in some uncomfortable situations.

Running Back

The best player on the Utah offense will be senior running back Zach Moss. Moss was named the Pac 12 offensive player of the year and has 3-straight 1,000-yard season on the ground. He has racked up 15 rushing touchdowns on the season and also added 2 receiving touchdowns. Moss loves to lower the pads and use his 220-pound frame, but he also has sneaky athleticism and can make guys miss in the open field.

Moss will be the one player the Longhorns will have to slow down if they hope to win the game. The Longhorns have been halfway decent against the run for most of the season, and there was likely a heavy emphasis on stopping the run throughout bowl preparation.

Wide Receiver

Utah loves to spread the ball around to all of their playmakers. Senior Demari Simpkins leads the team with 30 receptions, but 5 other players have more than 15 receptions on the roster. Freshman tight end Brant Kuithe leads the team with 6 receiving touchdowns, and the Utes will surely try to get him involved heavily after seeing the Longhorns struggles against opposing tight ends this season. 

Offensive Line

Left Tackle Darrin Paulo is one of the top offensive linemen in the PAC 12 and should hear his name called during the NFL draft in April. Outside of Paulo, the Utes are a little young along the offensive line, starting a pair of redshirt freshman and a sophomore. Despite the youth, the performance has been well above average. The unit does a good job of opening up holes in the running game and has only allowed 21 sacks on the season.

Overall Thoughts

This is actually a decent matchup on paper for Texas. The Longhorns have shown they can slow down certain types of offenses similar to what the Utes will show on New Year’s Eve. Interim defensive play-caller Craig Naivar will likely tone down the blitzes and try to key on Moss on 1st and 2nd down, forcing Utah to turn the game over into Hundley’s hands and have him make plays. If the Longhorns are able to do that, they will give themselves a chance to win what could turn out to be a low scoring game.

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