As we countdown to the start of the College Football season, Ute fans are looking forward to a potential revamped offense. Troy Taylor is coming in and reports out of camp have been very positive for the offense. Throw in a Troy Williams (a finally healthy Troy Williams) and the addition of Darren Carrington, there is a lot for Utah fans to be excited about.
However, could we be looking at one of the best defenses under Kyle Whittingham? That question won’t be answered until the end of the season, but all reports indicate this could be a freakishly good defense.
Kyle Whittingham coached teams are known for being really good defensive teams, so why this year? And why after losing so much talent to the NFL? Utah, now entering its 7th season in the PAC 12, has ramped up its recruiting. This past season Utah had one of its best, if not the best recruiting classes to date. The Utes have been known for taking undervalued players and developing them into high level players, now that they are starting to get highly recruited players, it would be only a matter of time before they take another step forward.
Recently after fall camp, Tyler Huntley (Sophomore QB) was asked to compare last years defense to this years defense. He responded by saying “I think our defense is way better than last year. No offense to last years D.” He is saying this without one of the nations best safety, Chase Hansen, even taking the field this year due to an injury.
Lets look at each position group and see what is their and why this defense could be one of the best ever at Utah:
- Defensive Line: Utah has been known to be extremely good up front. They consistently put guys in the NFL and reload. Defensive Line Coach Lewis Powell said he feels he has 11 guys that he can rotate through this year. We knew going into this season that the D Line would be good, but maybe not 11 guys good!
- Linebackers: This is the biggest question mark on the Utes defense. They return all impact linebackers from last season, however that group didn’t perform as well as you would like. Reports from camp are that Kavika Luafatasaga has looked really, really good. Last year, he had all the physical tools, but looked lost at times. If he can pick up this defensive scheme, he could be one of those guys we are talking about at the end of the year that no one was talking about before the season.
- Secondary: Utah lost a lot of talent from last year, and this was an area of concern for Utah fans. When camp opened up with the absence of Chase Hansen, those fears started to grow. However, Kyle Whittingham has talked multiple times about how good the secondary has been playing. Utah’s prize recruit this year was Jaylon Johnson, the 4 star freshman out of Fresno, California. He has come in and made plays all camp long. Lined up against Darren Carrington, an all conference wide receiver and done more than just hold his own. Guys to keep on eye on as well, Philip Afia, Corrion Ballard, Marquise Blair, Julian Blackmon, and former wide receiver, Kenric Young. Utah is deep in the secondary, and could be much better than last year.
On paper this defense looks poised for a big year, but we won’t know until the games are played. But Utah fans should be beyond excited for what could be an even better team then last years.