2014 Utah Utes Team Preview
Head Coach: Kyle Whittingham
2013-14 Record: 5-7, 2-7 Pac-12 Conference
2013-14 Bowl Result: N/A
Odds to Win National Championship: Field +2142
Offense: 6, Defense: 6
The Utes expect a healthy Travis Wilson to lead the offense, which should allow new offensive coordinator Dave Christensen transition into his new role after being dismissed as the head coach at Wyoming.
Wilson suffered a season-ending concussion in the ninth game of the season that threatened his career, but he’ll be protected by three returning starters on the offensive line.
Senior Dres Anderson figures to be one of the more explosive playmakers in the Pac-12 Conference, as he caught 53 passes for 1,002 yards and seven touchdowns last year.
Sophomore placekicker Andy Phillips is a weapon if the group is unable to reach pay dirt, considering he hit 17-of-20 field goal attempts last year and connected on all 41 PATs.
Utah will be tough to run against for a second consecutive season after allowing just 130.3 rushing yards per game last year, but it may not matter with the amount of returning quarterbacks in the conference.
The secondary may rise to the occasion, especially since senior safety Brian Blechen returns after missing last year with an injury, as he led the program in averaging 6.4 tackles per game in 2012.
Sixth year coordinator Kalani Fifita Sitake may have to get creative with his defensive alignments, as the program doesn’t have much depth at the linebacker position, but junior Jason Whittingham is a solid player in being an all-conference candidate.
The Utes don’t leave Salt Lake City until Sept. 20 when taking on the Michigan Wolverines in the Big House, while it opens up conference play the following week in welcoming in the Washington State Cougars in a Homecoming affair.
Playing on the road against UCLA, Oregon State, Arizona State and Stanford will be challenging, and will likely determine if the school will land a bowl bid for the first time since 2011.
With Wilson being just a concussion away from potential retirement, I’m not very high on the team entering this season, but Whittingham must be respected now that he enters his fourth year in Pac-12 play.
It’s also important to point out that the program won’t play BYU or Utah State this year—at least one of those rivals has appeared on its schedule for the first time since 1943.
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