2017 Prespring Rankings: No. 47 Utah Utes
The 2017 prespring college football rankings, taking the first look at the Utah Utes
No. 47: Utah Utes
Utah Utes Prespring Status
It was a good enough year. The Utes beat BYU, handed USC their last loss of the season, and won a bowl game on the way to nine wins. But it was also a year about what might have been, with all four losses coming by seven points or fewer including inexcusable flubs against bad Cal and Oregon teams. The ground game was tough, the run defense – as always – was stifling, and the punting game was the best in the country. Now Kyle Whittingham’s team has to try to get better in an improved Pac-12 South.
Heart-and-soul RB Joe Williams is done, but his departure is just a part of the problem with six starters in all gone on an offense that was among the most physical in the Pac-12. The defense caught a break with Lowell Lotulelei returning at one tackle spot, but pass-rushing terror Hunter Dimick is done on the end. Five starters are gone on defense, along with PK Andy Phillips.
Utah Utes Biggest Issue
The offensive line. The defensive front has concerns on the end, and the secondary has to replace just about everyone, but the O line has the most work to do. Garrett Bolles left early to become some NFL team’s starting left tackle, while Sam Tevi is gone on the other side. Pounding guard Isaac Asiata has to be replaced along with C Nick Nowakowski. Utah always comes up with excellent blockers, but good luck replacing these four.
Utah Utes Biggest Positive
S Marcus Williams is leaving early for the NFL, but three of the top four – and five of the top seven – tacklers return. There might not be the fearsome pass rush of last year without Dimick, but this should be another good, sound Utah defense around a strong linebacking corps, and Lotulelei up front. The D might not allow just 129 rushing yards per game again but it’ll be fine.
Really, Why Are The Utah Utes Ranked Here?
Can the Ute offense keep on rumbling without Williams and all the bangers on the offensive front? Troy Williams is a good enough quarterback to help ease the pain, but it’s a rebuilding year for a Ute attack that wasn’t explosive enough. The secondary has to be better without the benefit of a pass rush as good as last year’s, and there are just enough key losses to hurt. But it’s Utah under Kyle Whittingham – it’ll be a factor in the Pac-12 South.