October 4, 2012; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Utah Utes defensive tackle Star Lotulelei (92) celebrates a fumble recovery during the first quarter against the Southern California Trojans at Rice-Eccles Stadium. - Russ Isabella-US PRESSWIRE
Each week, we take a look at the various fronts of Washington's upcoming opponent. Today, we look at the defense of the Utah Utes.
Utah's defense isn't one that relies on trickery or deception to accomplish its goals. Rather, Kyle Whittingham subscribes to the "what you see is what you get" school of thought and would rather line up his big uglies across from UW's to see who looks worse for wear after 60 minutes of game clock has expired. Since Washington has played so well at home in 2012, you have to think that this is one scenario that Steve Sarkisian is eager to see play out.
Defensive Line: Every conversation about Utah's defense begins and ends with No. 92. Star Lotulelei is a human wrecking ball whose value isn't revealed in readily-available statistics; rather, his rare combination of speed, strength and quickness demands double-teams from virtually every opponent he faces, and will present Washington's offensive linemen with their biggest test in the trenches that they have encountered thus far. Loutulelei is flanked by brothers Joe Kruger and Dave Kruger, as well as Nate Fakahafua.
Linebacker: The biggest name among this bunch is fourth-year junior Trevor Reilly, whose tally of 50 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks rank first, second and second, respectively, on this year's team. He is flanked by redshirt freshman Jason Whittingham and V.J. Fehoko, who have played important roles in plugging gaps for opponent rushers and have helped Utah to a mark of giving up just 105 rushing yards per game, good for third-best in the conference.
Cornerback: Ryan Lacy has continued to earn his reputation as a cornerback to be avoided, with two interceptions and four passes defended on the year. Opposite of him is Reggie Topps, who is coming off the best game of his career against Washington State in which he accounted for seven tackles, a sack and a 21-yard interception return.
Safety: Utah is blessed with a pair of former freshman All-Americans at safety in Brian Blechen and Eric Rowe. Both players are living up to their high-profile billing, as the former leads Utah in tackles per game (6.2) and the latter sits not far behind, with 5.0.