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July 28, 2010
Border Battle: Arizona vs. Utah
THE TEAMS: Arizona | Utah VOTE: Who wins? MORE: Ala. vs. Miss. | Va. vs. Md./D.C. | Ga. vs. La.
It is one of the best years in recent memory for offensive linemen in Arizona and although many will probably leave the state to play college football that doesn't mean they can't be appreciated for one more season in high school.
All six listed have multiple offers with two already committed to Oregon (Andre Yruretagoyena and Tyler Johnstone) and Christian Westerman committed to Texas. Cyrus Hobbi has a host of offers and the most likely to play for an in-state team are Mo Latu and Ryan Nowicki. It's an outstanding group that deserves recognition.
On the other side, Utah has an impressive defensive line led by three South Jordan Bingham standouts and BYU commits in Bakker Pritchard, Moses Kaumatule and Kesni Tausinga. Matching up against Arizona's stout offensive line could result in some interesting battles but one side probably has the slight edge.
Arizona offense vs. Utah defense
Four-star quarterback Brett Hundley is talented but Arizona is limited in its passing attack so the plan would probably be to mainly keep the ball on the ground and use the speed of Arizona commit Ka'Deem Carey and D.J. Hubbard to their advantage.
Utah has massive, tough interior linemen but could be in trouble because of Arizona's speedy backs and Hundley's ability to run the ball. Arizona probably wouldn't do much running between the tackles even though its offensive line is outstanding.
Carey and Hubbard, a feisty little back who impressed at the Los Angeles NIKE Camp, have the speed to make things happen every time they touch the ball.
Defensive tackles Kesni Tausinga and Viliseni Fauonuku will be a handful up the middle but don't have the speed to track down Carey or Hubbard to the outside. Neither do defensive ends Moses Kaumatule or Bakker Pritchard.
Hundley also rushed for more than 1,200 yards last season so he's a threat with the ball in his hands, too. Arizona should have its way in the running game with Hundley, two capable backs and an outstanding offensive line blocking in front of them.
Where Arizona would struggle - and where Utah could have an advantage - is the passing game is average at best. If Utah decided to drop an extra defender in the box that could negate the Arizona rushing attack.
Utah's defensive line is the strength of its defense, its linebackers are good but not great and the secondary can get the job done but Arizona probably wouldn't pass the ball much. Getting another defender near the line to stop the rush could help Utah's chances immensely.
Utah offense vs. Arizona defense
This could be an intriguing matchup filled with some offensive firepower because Utah has a good mix of talented running backs - led by four-star Harvey Langi - a nice group of wide receivers and quarterback Alex Kuresa, who's undersized but can make all the throws.
The best way for Utah to move the ball would be to throw lots of passes to Langi coming out of the backfield. He's nearly unstoppable that way and Arizona probably doesn't have the linebackers to keep up stride with him.
Running up the middle would probably be foolish because Todd Peat Jr. will block everything up there. Getting to the outside is key for Utah's offense to be successful.
What could also work is putting Kuresa in play-action and then finding his two talented receivers - Nate Fakahafua and Travis Still - or even tight end Colby Jorgensen, a big target at 6 feet 7 who can really run.
Sam Kamp and Reggie Gilbert are talented at defensive end and Peat is a monster up the middle so Utah's offensive line will have its hands full which puts more pressure on Kuresa to get outside to make plays. Langi is important because he catches the ball out of the backfield as well as any running back in the country.
Arizona's secondary is good but Utah's wide receivers are better so Kuresa could move the ball downfield if he can find enough time to get the ball off.
Picking a winner
A matchup between Arizona and Utah would have a lot of interesting twists and turns because Arizona's offensive line is outstanding but Utah's defensive front wouldn't be pushed around. The key though is that Arizona's running game might be too much for Utah to control for four quarters.
Utah's defensive tackles and ends are talented but by the late second half might be worn down by incredibly tough Arizona linemen and Carey is a fantastic back who can break big runs at any time. His speed, along with Hundley and Hubbard running the ball, might be too much.
Utah would have a chance because its offense would be talented especially with Langi running and catching the ball and Kuresa delivering it to many talented receivers. But in the end Arizona has too much firepower on offense and its defense is good enough to make stops late in the game. Arizona would win by a touchdown but it certainly would be a hard-fought victory.