2011 Record: 8-5; 4-5 Pac 12
2011 Bowl: 30-27 W vs Ga Tech @ Sun Bowl
Head Coach: Kyle Whittingham
Odds to win Pac 12: 40/1
Odds to win Pac 12 South Div: 10/1
Odds from Bovada
Utah offensive coordinator Brian Johnson seems hopelessly optimistic, but I’m sure Utes fan would rather that be the case than him saying the team has no chance. Saying that the Utes are “talented enough to be really, really good,” may seem like a stretch, but really, really mediocre is a real possibility. They finished last in the Pac 12 last year in total offense, producing only 310.9 yards per game and they managed only 25 points per game, which was 9th in the Pac 12.
However, it may not be totally misguided since the Utes did win four of their final Pac 12 games. The real issue will be seeing if Jordan Wynn’s shoulder is healthy enough for him to play full time duties at QB. If not, Jon Hayes went 6-3 as a starter and freshman Travis Wilson had a nice spring after enrolling at Utah in January. Wynn has still been experiencing soreness and it was repaired in October of 2011. He said the rest he had helped him, but his history of shoulder injuries doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence in the most talented QB on the roster. Without him, they’ll be lucky to even be mediocre.
They don’t have a ton of talent around him with the receivers either. JUCO transfer John White had to do a lot last far, but he did come up big with a school record 1,519 yards and 15 TDs. DeVonte Christopher, now a senior, will also be counted upon heavily.
The interior line is good. They lost tackles Tony Bergstrom and John Cullen, but C tevita Stevens and Gs Sam Brenner and Jeremiah Tofaeono will keep them strong.
Defense was the strength of the Utes last year, as they finished No. 1 in points allowed in the Pac 12, surrendering only 20.2 per game.
Star Lotulelei won the Morris Trophy and was the Pac 12’s best DL. He had nine tackles for a los, which was tied for second on the team. Also, after catching a pass on a punt fake against Cal, he managed a 17 yard run for a score.
They did lose their top two tacklers in 2011 but they have been good at finding replacements in these situations. ML V.J. Fehoko had a nice spring but didn’t play much his freshman year. Tevor Reilly is a good pass rusher. The Utes will have some tools, once again.
Mo Lee and Ryan Lacey will no longer share duties at one of the CB spots but will now start alongside one another. Safeties Brian Blechen and Eric Rowe are both former Freshman All-Americans and Blechen is especially good, as he had seven interceptions in two seasons, while Rowe broke up nine passes in his own right.
Coleman Petersen has shown himself to be a resilient field goal kicker that can even kick in poor weather conditions. He did, however, miss all three attempts in the 17-14 loss to Colorado last year. Sean Sellwood had four punts of 53+ yards in the Sun Bowl and had a 45.0 yard punt average on the year.
Utah was one missed field goal away from forcing OT and advancing to the first Pac 12 championship game. Their losing conference record would have been off-set by such a success, and Athlon magazine predicts another 4-5 Pac 12 finish for the Utes.
Their defense will keep them competitive, but with all the question marks surrounding the shudders (no pun intended) of Wynn’s shoulders, it remains to be seen if they can make more waves than a middling .500 record in conference play.