The Utah Utes joined the Pac-12 Conference in 2011. It took the Utes a little while to get the feel for playing in a Power 5 Conference. However, once Utah got their Pac-12 legs, it has been a pretty fun ride for the program. After the last three seasons of success, many believe a downturn may be in the mix for the 2017. I am not so sure of this so-called downturn.
First, lets get the obvious out of the way.
The Utes have lost 11 starters from last year’s team. That is a big number especially when you consider who they lost.
Gone are leading rusher Joe Williams, leading receiver Tim Patrick, leading pass rusher Hunter Dimick, and their best secondary defender in free safety Marcus Williams who also had five interceptions.
When you lose that kind of talent off of a team, it’s only reasonable that people think that a downturn is coming the following year. Not so fast as Lee Corso would say.
It’s not like the team is devoid of talent. Returning are quarterback Troy Williams, receiver Raelon Singleton, and guard Salesi Uhatafe. On the defensive side of the ball, the Utes have some stellar players returning. Kylie Fitts, Lowell Lotulelei, Filipo Mokofisi are back to solidify one of the best defensive lines in the Pac-12. In the secondary Chase Hansen is also back to lead the defensive backs. Hansen also lead the team in passes defended and tackles.
The other weapon that was added over the summer that will be of great value is former Oregon Duck Darren Carrington. Carrington has had his personal issues in the past, but if he can get his head straight, the sky will be the limit for the passing game for the Utes.
The other aspect that I love about the Utes going into every season is their head coach, Kyle Whittingham.
Those of you that follow Pac-12 football know all about Coach Whittingham. He has the look of linebacker, the intensity of linebacker, and the never say die attitude of any football player. Players take on the attitude of their coach and that is certainly the case for the Utah Utes.
The players give the effort that Coach Whittingham demands of them. The Ute players also have that fight that lets the other team know that the Utes are coming at them on every single play.
This kind of effort and attitude make the Utes the team nobody likes to play. The opposition knows that they will be in for a physical fight for four quarters.
The schedule is something else that other writers like to go to point to a downturn in 2017.
The Utes have the “Holy War” with BYU in Provo this year and that will always be a tough game. I see the Utes coming out on top in this game. It’ll be close, but I believe Utah has a little more talent to take this game.
Utah also has to travel to Oregon, USC, and Washington. They will beat the Ducks. The Duck defense may not be able to stop anybody this year. The Trojan and Husky game will be difficult to come out with a win.
The Utes also will have UCLA, Washington State, Arizona State, and Stanford at home. I can certainly see the Utes being 3-1 against these teams. The Utes won’t be scared of anybody and may even pull an upset off to really put their season into overdrive. I can see the Utes getting nine wins this year.
You may think that is a win or two to much, but I never discount what this program can do. This program just lays in the weeds and the moment you think the Utes are done, they bite you.
For those people that want to sleep on the Utes. Do so at your peril. Ask yourself how you feel when your team has Utah on the schedule for the week. How nervous do you get?
Yeah, that is what I thought. You don’t like having Utah on the schedule.