#27 Utah Football 2015 Preview

Utah Utes

Overall Rank: #27
#7 Pac-12

Utah Team Page#27 Utah Football 2015 PreviewBuy Utah Football Tickets

Utah finally had a breakthrough season as a member of the Pac-12 in 2014 as they went 5-4 in conference play and had wins over Michigan, Stanford, UCLA and USC. The Utes did go through more changes on their coaching staff as both coordinators Dave Christensen and Kalani Sitake left for other positions at Texas A&M and Oregon State, respectively. Plenty of experience is back as a whole which should position the Utes to be highly competitive once again in 2015.

2014 Record: 9-4, 5-4
2014 Bowl: Las Vegas Bowl vs. Colorado State (W 45-10)
Coach: Kyle Whittingham 85-43 at Utah, 85-43 overall
Offensive Coordinator: Jim Harding, Aaron Roderick
Defensive Coordinator: John Pease

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Devontae Booker, RB, 1,512 yards
Passing: Travis Wilson, QB, 2,170 yards
Receiving: Kenneth Scott, WR, 506 yards
Tackles: Jared Norris, LB, 116
Sacks: Hunter Dimick, DE, 10.0
Interceptions: Gionni Paul, LB, 4

Other Key Returnees: LT J.J. Dielman, LG Isaac Asiata, C Siaosi Aiono, RG Salesi Uhatafe, LB Jason Whittingham, P Tom Hackett, K Andy Phillips, SS Tevin Carter

Key Losses: WR Kaelin Clay, DE Nate Orchard, S Brian Blechen, CB Eric Rowe

Defensively, the Utes were the best in the nation at getting to the quarterback as they sacked the quarterback over four times per game. Despite the loss of Nate Orchard and his 18.5 sacks from a year ago, “Sack Lake City” will still be very strong with the return of defensive end Hunter Dimick. Dimick collected 10.0 sacks and had 14.5 tackles for loss in 2014 and will cause offensive coordinators in the Pac-12 plenty of problems. Offensively, Devontae Booker is one of the top returning running backs in all of the nation. Booker rushed for 1,512 yards and has that innate ability to impose his will on opposing defenses and wear them down late in games. The kicking game should once again be elite for Utah as Tom Hackett won the Ray Guy Award as the best punter in all of college football in 2014.

The wide receiver corps lacks in game experience for the Utes heading into the 2015 season. Kenneth Scott returns to anchor this inexperienced group and will need to be able to threaten 1,000 yards receiving to take pressure off of Travis Wilson at quarterback. Consistency at quarterback is going to have to be addressed as both Wilson and Kendall Thompson are back at the position. Wilson did a nice job of limiting turnovers last year, throwing just five interceptions, but if neither Wilson nor Thompson can stay healthy Utah will be in trouble. Health as a whole is going to be something to keep an eye for the Utes as guys like Jason Whittingham and Tevin Carter are coming back from injuries on the defensive side of the football. If those guys can stay healthy then things like the pass defense will get better this fall for the Utah defense and that will keep them in virtually every game that they play.

The Bottom Line:
There will be plenty of hoopla for the season opener at Rice-Eccles Stadium as Michigan and Jim Harbaugh come to town on a Thursday night to open the season. The Utes won’t be intimidated by the Wolverines as they had little trouble with them a year ago in Ann Arbor. But it is going to be critical for Utah to start fast in that game and try to out physical Michigan at the line of scrimmage. The rest of the home schedule is also pretty manageable and it will be important for the Utes to take care of business at home as the road schedule is a difficult one. Road trips to Oregon, Washington, USC and Arizona are on the slate for Utah in 2015. If they can go 2-2 on the road in conference play, they will have another shot to win nine games in 2015.

Projected Bowl: Sun Bowl

2014 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 190.4 (39th in nation, 3rd in conference)
Passing Offense: 197.7(93, 12)
Total Offense: 388.1 (76, 12)
Scoring Offense: 31.3 (49, 8)
Rushing Defense: 146.8 (41, 6)
Pass Defense: 246.6 (90, 2)
Total Defense: 393.5 (58, 2)
Scoring Defense: 24.9 (42, 4)
Turnover Margin: 0.38 (37, 6)
Sacks: 4.23 (1, 1)
Sacks Allowed: 2.38 (85, 6)

Madness 2016 NFL Draft Rankings:
#93 Devontae Booker


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