Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Pre-Season Preview: Utah Utes

2009 Record: 10-3 (6-2 in Mountain West)
2009 Bowl: Poinsettia Bowl (Beat California 37-27)
Final 2009 AP Ranking: #18
Head Coach: Kyle Whittingham (47-17 at Utah)
Non-Conference Schedule: Pittsburgh (9/2), San Jose State (9/25), at Iowa State (10/9), at Notre Dame (11/13)

2009 Offensive Statistics
Scoring: 29.8 points per game (3rd in MWC)
Rushing Yards/Game: 160 (3rd in MWC)
Passing Yards/Game: 229 (3rd in MWC)
Total Yards/Game: 389 (3rd in MWC) 

2009 Defensive Statistics
Scoring: 20.2 points per game (3rd in MWC)
Rushing Yards/Game: 137 (4th in MWC)
Passing Yards/Game: 176 (3rd in MWC)
Total Yards/Game: 313 (3rd in MWC)

2009 Misc Stats
Turnover Margin: +0.38 per game (3rd in MWC)
Penalties: 69 yards per game (last in MWC, 110th in Nation)

Returning Starters
Offense: 7
Defense: 4
Kicker/Punter: 2

Top Returning Statistical Leaders
Passing: QB Terrance Cain, Sr (137 of 215 for 1624 yds, 11 TD, 5 INT, 135 passing ypg, 26.5 rushing ypg)
Passing: QB Jordan Wynn, Soph (104 for 179 for 1329 yds, 8 TD, 4 INT, 221 ypg)
Rushing: RB Eddie Wide, Sr (202 carries for 1070 yds, 12 TD, 5.3 ypc, 82 ypg)
Receiving: WR Jereme Brooks, Sr (56 rec, 696 yds, 7 TD, 4.3 rec/game)
Tackles: DL Sealver Siliga, Jr (50), DB Brandon Burton, Jr (47)
Sacks: DL Christian Cox, Sr (5.5)
Interceptions: DB Lamar Chapman, Sr (2)

2010 Pre-Season Rankings
Lindy's: #25
Mark Schlabach: Not Ranked
Rivals: #22
Scout: #23
Sports Illustrated: #25
Athlon Sports: #39

2010 Pre-Season Mountain West Prediction:
Athlon Sports: #2

Bowl Prediction:
Athlon Sports: Poinsettia (vs Navy)

Utah was perfect in 2008. They went 13-0 and finished their season with a decisive win over SEC Runner-Up Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. There really wasn't anywhere to go from there but down. Utah posted a 10-3 record with two narrow defeats at the hands of Oregon and BYU. In their other loss they were thumped by TCU 55 to 28. Can Utah take back the Mountain West Conference from TCU this year and also hold off BYU and Air Force? The Utah Blog Block U weighs in on if they can repeat the magic from the 2008 season.

What are the major strengths and biggest weaknesses of the team?

Well I think Utah's biggest strength will be their consistency on offense this go around. In 2009, the Utes had to start the season with a new quarterback and generally, when you're going in with an untested guy under center, there are some concerns. That was Terrance Cain and he did a fairly decent job throughout most of the season, however, lost his starting job to Jordan Wynn eight games into the season. Cain was fairly productive as a quarterback in his first eight starts and had an exceptional record (7-1). Unfortunately, the offense wasn't living up to its level of expectations and often stagnated during games. In that eighth game against the Wyoming Cowboys on Halloween, the coaching staff made the switch at the half and Wynn has played ever since. Wynn's biggest win, of course, came in the Poinsettia Bowl against Cal. He was named the offensive MVP and, unless injury becomes an issue, should be Utah's starting quarterback when the 2010 season rolls around later this summer. Of course, even if he doesn't start, they'll have a quarterback in Cain who started in eight games- so the experience factor heavily benefits the offense.

The weakness might be the defense due to talent turnover. With that said, Utah's head coach is Kyle Whittingham and the defense has been his baby since 1994 here at Utah. The growing pains the Utes' defense generally sees is minimal and I've got to think, even with some big-time losses, that will be the case again this season. What could help ease the transition is the fact that Kalani Sitake, Utah's defensive coordinator, is no longer a rookie assistant. 2009 was his first season as a coordinator and there were obvious growing pains. That won't be the case in 2010.

Looking at the schedule who will be the first major test and why?

The first test is the first game against Pitt. I don't think I really need to explain why that game will be tough for Utah, since the Panthers probably will enter ranked even higher than the Utes. This is a statement game. If Utah can win, they'll be in good position to make some noise the remainder of the season. Any time you open up the year against a ranked team in your house and have a realistic shot of winning (if not being favored), it automatically becomes a huge game. The fans have it circled. The players have it circled. And it certainly will drive up the anticipation the closer we get to the start of the season.

What team on the schedule do you fear the most?

Probably TCU. The Frogs manhandled Utah last year and just a change of venue (the game was played in Fort Worth then) isn't going to fix the blatant talent discrepancies between each team. If the Frogs are every bit as good as they were last year and Utah is only marginally better, they potentially could still be facing a blowout loss- even at home.

Who is the best player on your team that nobody talks about?

Griffin McNabb. He's a freshman, but had a great spring game and is in position to make a lot of noise as a wide receiver in a young offense. Since he's a freshman, though, not much has been mentioned of him lately. He did have a great spring game and Ute fans are hoping that carries over into the season.

Who is the best offensive player on the team?

That's a tough one. I'd like to think Jordan Wynn, but Matt Asiata is a beast. He'll be returning this season after missing most of last season due to an injury. As a running back, he positioned himself as one of Utah's biggest offensive threats. Of course, you can't go wrong with the guy who replaced him last season. That was Eddie Wide and he had a stretch of six consecutive games where he rushed for 100 or more yards, a school record. On the year, he finished with 1,069- that's without starting the first four games.

Who is the most impactful defensive player on the team?

I'd say Dave Kruger. But that's because I'm in love with the Kruger boys (his brother Paul was big during our 2008 undefeated, BCS busting season).

What player(s) needs to step up this year in order for the team to reach it's full capability?

I think the young defense needs to step up and live up to Utah defenses of the past. Wynn will have big shoes to fill because of how he ended last year (leading us to a win in our bowl game). Overall, the team is talented and has a nice balance needed to play at that full capacity.

Who is the top offensive newcomer that can make an impact this year?

I think I've got to go with Griffin McNabb again. Maybe I'm overselling him, but he seems like the type of guy that could step in and become an instant impact player.
Gut feeling on the teams final record at the end of the regular season and what makes this a successful season in your eyes?

Utah really has a tough schedule. Pitt, Iowa State, Notre Dame, TCU and BYU all could be losses if they're not careful. With that said, I expect at least ten regular season wins (which means no more than two losses) and potentially- this is just potentially -an undefeated season. So I'll pick 11-1 as a compromise. If it's 10-2, it depends on who they lose to and whether or not they win a conference championship. Anything less and I guess we'll have to take it on a game by game basis. 12-0, well damn, I'll be in heaven!

Next Up: UNLV Rebels

2010 Previews
Big East- Cincinnati Bearcats, Pittsburgh Panthers, West Virginia Mountaineers
Big Ten- Michigan WolverinesMinnesota Golden Gophers, Northwestern Wildcats, Purdue Boilermakers
Conference USA- Houston Cougars
MAC- Temple Owls
Sun Belt- Troy Trojans


Post a Comment


Resistance Bands, Free Blogger Templates