One of the most consistently dominating defenses in the nation, led by
Broyles Award finalist Morgan Scalley, smothered opponents in 2019 and
put up numbers not seen in the Pac-12 for more than a decade.
The Utes feature the No. 1 rushing defense in the nation, allowing just 70.3 yards
per game on the ground, and allow opponents just 2.7 yards per carry. Ranked
third in total defense, the Utes’ senior-laden defensive unit has played a key role
in establishing the team as one of just three top 25 teams the FBS to rank in the
top 10 in the nation in both offensive (10th) and defensive (4th) yards per play.
Five defensive starters earned first-team All-Pac-12 recognition, including senior
defensive tackle Leki Fotu, who stuffs the run as well as any interior lineman
in the nation. Senior All-America defensive end Bradlee Anae is tied for seventh
in the FBS in sacks with 12.5, and enters his final collegiate game tied for the
all-time Utah Football record with 29.5 career sacks. That figure put forth by the
Ted Hendricks Award finalist ranks fourth among all active FBS players. Fellow
senior and second-team All-Pac-12 selection John Penisini pairs with Fotu to clog
up the middle and dominate the trenches for the Utes.
Utah, which also ranks third in pass efficiency defense (108.86) and sixth in
scoring defense (13.2), has held 10 of its 13 opponents under 70 rushing yards,
the most by an FBS team in a season since 2006 (Michigan, 11). The Utes have
held six opponents this season to 7 points or fewer and have posted two shutouts.
Linebackers Francis Bernard and Devin Lloyd lead the team in tackles for a
defense that has allowed opponents the fewest offensive snaps per game (58.2)
and ties for second in the nation with five defensive touchdowns scored. Bernard,
a senior, has earned first-team All-Pac-12 honors for his 83 tackles, 7.5 tackles for
loss and two interceptions—one of which he returned 58 yards for a touchdown.
Sophomore Lloyd, the team’s leading tackler with 85 stops, also has a pick-six,
taking an interception back 64 yards for a score. Lloyd’s exploits don’t stop there,
as he ranks second on the team in sacks (5.5) and tackles for loss (9.0).
The Utes’ secondary features two All-Americans in senior safety Julian Blackmon
and junior cornerback Jaylon Johnson. Blackmon’s
four interceptions lead the team, while his 60 tackles
rank fourth and include 1.5 sacks and four tackles
for loss. Johnson shuts down one half of the field and
has two interceptions and a team-leading 13 passes
defended to go with 36 tackles. Senior safety Terrell
Burgess, who ranks third on the team with 75 tackles,
will join five teammates at the Senior Bowl with
his 6.0 tackles for loss and one interception. Junior
nickel back Javelin Guidry joined Burgess in earning
honorable mention All-Pac-12, among 10 total
players on the defensive side of the ball to receive
38 DECEMBER 31, 2019 / OFFICIAL GAME PROGRAM