Utah Football Predictions

Written by Vegas Top Cappers | July 31, 2013

2013 Utah Football Predictions

Head coach Kyle Whittingham endured his first losing season (5-7) in his eight-year tenure at Utah in 2012, which was also the Utes first season as members of the PAC-12. Whittingham and his staff went out and brought in one of the school’s highest-ranked recruiting classes in history. He also brought in former head coach of the two-time national champion Miami Hurricanes, Dennis Erickson, to serve as co-offensive coordinator. Erickson’s hire makes Utah the only FBS school with two former National Coach of the Year honorees on staff (Erickson in 2000, Whittingham in 2008).

The Utes will still run a version of the spread offense, but to do so successfully, a capable signal-caller is required. Utah has five candidates, but only one (sophomore Travis Wilson), has any actual game experience with the scheme. Wilson performed capably last fall after being handed the reins, throwing for 1,311 yards and 7 TDs in the seven games he started. Look for Wilson to be under center on August 29 when the Utes kickoff the season in their annual Battle for the Beehive Boot with arch-rival Utah State. Wilson’s progress is even more critical because the school’s all-time rushing leader, John White, graduated. Kelvin York appears to have the early edge to replace him, with plenty of depth, including a top-flight JUCO transfer.

It’s also hoped that a full season as starter will improve Wilson’s passing production, and returnees Dres Anderson and Kenneth Scott ranked first and third in receptions in 2012. There’s a logjam behind those two, including speedy JUCO transfer Andre Lewis and a handful of blue-chip recruits. Whittingham also wants to involve the TEs more, with Jake Murphy and Westlee Tonga the front-runners.

The O-line is led by potential NFLer OT Jeremiah Poutasi, all 6’5 345 lbs. of him. The other O-linemen are all above or just under 300 lbs., and even after losing three seniors, this unit could be among the conference’s best.

Losing first-round NFL draft pick Star Lotulelei, an All-American DT last season, definitely leaves a gaping hole up front, but Utah’s depth across the D-line makes it much more manageable than it appears. The JUCO ranks have always been kind to Utah, and this year is no different, with returnee Tenny Palepoi turning heads in his first season after two JUCO seasons and new recruit Sese Ianu cut from the same cloth. DE/LB Trevor Reilly earned honorable mention all-conference and incoming freshmen Keio Palamo and Sam Tevi are future standouts.

Brian Blechen’s transformation from strong safety to LB was a success, and the other slots will be filled by any of several capable returnees and recruits.  The secondary will be the most different-looking defensive unit, and although a lot of new faces will have to contribute early, Whittingham feels confident they will produce.

Despite losing some exceptionally talented players, Utah appears to be making all the right moves to allow them to atone for last season’s less-than-auspicious PAC-12 debut. With the addition of Erickson and his offensive genius, expect the Ute offense to be much improved. Nine wins might be a stretch in 2013, but with a few breaks here and there, not unreachable.

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