The 2018 spring college football rankings, taking the first look at the Utah Utes.
No. 34: Utah Utes
Spring Practice Starts: March 6
Spring Game: April 14
Utah Utes Spring Status
It all sort of worked.
Head coach Kyle Whittingham wanted a higher-octane offensive style, but the attack was inconsistent and wasn’t quite clutch enough. However, even though the Utes won two fewer games, they only scored four fewer points and gave up ten less than they did in 2016.
And now, the work done last season might just lead the way to a big leap forward. As long as the defense does its job – like always – and the offense has the pop to keep up with the rest of the high-powered Pac-12, all of a sudden, the shift might look genius.
Getting back QB Tyler Huntley is the key to the offense – if new recruit Jack Tuttle isn’t the main man – and he’ll get a good-enough receiving corps to work with, even with Darren Carrington done. And as always, there’s a power running element to use when needed.
The other side of the ball is the concern, losing five starters on the front six, along with a few defensive backs. But Utah always fills in the missing pieces in a hurry on D, and if it doesn’t the O should carry things.
At least that’s the hope.
Utah Biggest Depth Chart Battle
Defensive tackle. Losing Kylie Fitts off the end doesn’t help. The tackle combination of Filipo Mokofisi and Lowell Lotulelei was the bedrock of the D, and now they need to be replaced. Leki Fotu did a nice job of getting into the backfield from time to time, Hauati Pututau is going to be a factor, and Pita Tonga got his feet wet. Former Oregon State and Wisconsin head coach Gary Andersen – who’s helping with the D line – should turn this group into a killer.
Utah Biggest Issue
The offensive line can’t be so leaky. The front five was okay for the running game, but it was the program’s lowest rushing total since 2013. Allowing 38 sacks wasn’t okay, but call that a function of the changed up passing game.
The 96 tackles for loss given up was a big problem, too. Both starting tackles are back, but it’s going to be a work in progress this offseason to come up with the right starting five.
Utah Biggest Positive
The secondary should be a rock. Utah was 16th in the nation and second in the Pac-12 in pass efficiency defense – it should be great again.
Even with the team’s third-leading tackler – safety Chase Hansen – likely moving to linebacker, the defensive backfield. Julian Blackmon is a nice-looking corner on one side, Corrion Ballard is a good hitter at one safety spot, and there are enough options to let the coaching staff play around with moving Hansen.
Really, Why Are The Utah Utes Ranked Here?
Utah might just be good enough to sneak up on everyone in the Pac-12 South. With half of the division undergoing a coaching change, Whittingham keeps on rolling for one of the nation’s steadiest programs – especially come bowl time.
The coaching is great, the system is sound on defense, and it’s looking to be okay on the other side. As long as the receiving corps can find a few good new parts, and if it really is a matter of it being the next-man-up on the defensive line, this should be a dangerous team.