College Football News Preview 2020: Utah Utes Keys To The Season
Biggest Key To The Utah Utes Offense
Run the ball, run the ball well, and keep running the ball. For all the changes and tweaks over the last few seasons go generate a more dynamic downfield passing game, the heart of the program’s offense under Kyle Whittingham has been a toughness to the ground attack that doesn’t quite fit the Pac-12 mold.
The Utes ran well in the loss to USC, but they failed to run for scores in just two games last year – the losses at the end to Oregon in the Pac-12 Championship and to Texas in the Alamo Bowl. In both games, the offense failed to hit 130 yards rushing.
Utah is 2-9 in its last 11 games when it failed to hit 130 yards, and fortunately, the line is in place to hit the mark without too much of an issue.
And on the flip side …
Biggest Key To The Utah Utes Defense
The run defense has to find its mojo again … and in a hurry. The massive personnel losses are going to make it a hard enough adaption period, but the D as a whole has to gear it back up despite getting run over in the final two games.
This was the baddest run defense in the land for most of last year, only allowing over 100 yards once in the first 12 games – 111 to Arizona State – with teams struggling to come up with more than two yards per carry. The D allowed a rushing score in each of the first two games, and gave up just two in the next ten.
And then Oregon came out and took away Utah’s will, pounding away for 239 yards and three scores. Texas followed suit with 231 yards and two touchdowns.
The program has lost its last eight games over the last three seasons when allowing 170 rushing yards or more, and now it has to be back to its normal self with a way too many moving parts.
Key Utah Utes Player To A Successful Season
QB Jake Bentley, Sr.
Great right away for South Carolina, he stepped in and showed off a bit of magic as a freshman. Accurate, he hit 63% of his passes in just over three years for 7,527 yards and 55 touchdowns, but he also gave up 32 picks.
His junior season never got last season off the ground, injuring his foot in the opener against North Carolina and losing the gig to new top Gamecock QB Ryan Hilinski.
Bentley won’t bring a whole lot of mobility, but he’s got 33 games of starting experience to run the offense right away. He’ll have to fight off Drew Lisk and Cameron Rising for the job – no matter who it is, replacing Tyler Huntley won’t be easy.
Key Game To The Utah Utes Season
USC, Oct. 2
1916. Utah beat USC on the road 27-12 to open up the 1916 season. Since then, the Trojans are 10-0 when the two teams play in California. In Utah, the Utes have won their last three in the series. The Pac-12 South opener is in Salt Lake City, and the winner probably wins what appears to be a weakened division.
– Utah Utes Schedule Breakdown & Analysis
2019 Utah Fun Stats
– 3rd Quarter Scoring: Utah 118 – Opponents 34
– Penalties: Utah 103 for 862 yards – Opponents 85 for 727 yards
– Rushing TDs: Utah 34 – Opponents 9