#33 Utah 2018 Football Preview

Utah Utes
Overall Rank: #33
#6 Pac-12
 Utah Logo
Utah started the 2017 campaign 4-0. Then things got very tough and the Utes won just two more regular season games. That was of course enough to reach a bowl game where Utah played very well in a 30-14 win over West Virginia in the Heart of Dallas Bowl. Heading into 2018, Coach Kyle Whittingham’s team has enough experience to compete in the Pac-12 South and make a push for the conference championship game.
2017 Record: 7-6, 3-6
2017 Bowl: Heart of Dallas Bowl vs. West Virginia (W 30-14)
Coach: Kyle Whittingham (111-56 at Utah, 11-56 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Troy Taylor
Defensive Coordinator: Morgan Scalley
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Zack Moss, RB, 1,173 yards
Passing: Tyler Huntley, QB, 2,411 yards
Receiving: Siaosi Mariner, WR, 393 yards
Tackles: Chase Hansen, LB, 51
Sacks: Bradlee Anae, DE, 7.0
Interceptions: Julian Blackmon, DB, 4
Other Key Returnees: RB Devonta’e Henry-Cole, OL Lo Falemaka, S Marquise Blair, S Corrion Ballard, K Matt Gay, P Mitch Wishnowsky
Key Losses: WR Darren Carrington, WR Raelon Singleton, OL Salesi Uhatafe, DT Lowell Lotulelei, LB Kavika Luafatasaga, LB Sunia Tauteoli
Tyler Huntley is a dangerous dual threat quarterback. As a sophomore last year he threw for 2,411 yards and 15 touchdowns while rushing for 537 yards and six more scores. Huntley is a pretty efficient passer, but he will need to try and cut down on his interceptions during his second season as a starter. Huntley will need to find a few new targets though with Darren Carrington and Raelon Singleton gone. Siaosi Mariner, Demarti Simpkins and Samson Nacua all have some experience though, but Utah will need somebody to emerge as the go-to receiver. The return of Britain Covey, who led the team in receptions in 2015, could be the answer as well. In the meantime, the Utes should be strong on the ground. Zack Moss is back after rushing for 1,173 yards last season and with a strong offensive line, he should have another very productive campaign.
Utah usually has the depth to reload on the defensive front and this year should be no different. With Bradlee Anae back after recording 7.0 sacks as a sophomore, the Utes should have a consistent pass rush. The Utes could use Chase Hansen all over the field. The former safety is expected to play some at linebacker and is the team’s top returning tackler with 51. Cody Barton too is an experienced senior linebacker who is ready for a larger role. Safeties Marquise Blair and Corrion Ballard are poised for big senior seasons and the Utes have a ton of talent at cornerback. Julian Blackmon and promising sophomore Jaylon Johnson could turn into one of the best cornerback duos in the Pac-12 by the time the season is through.
The Bottom Line:
The Utes should again be a contender in the Pac-12 South. But if this is the year that they are going to reach their first ever Pac-12 title game, they will need to navigate through a tough conference slate that includes five road games. The toughest South Division games are in Salt Lake City though. On back-to-back weekends in October Utah hosts both Arizona and USC. If they can win those games, the Utes have a great shot at the conference championship game.
Projected Bowl: Sun Bowl
2017 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 164.0 (65th in nation, 7th in conference)
Passing Offense: 249.4 (49, 7)
Total Offense: 413.4 (52, 8)
Scoring Offense: 29.5 (52, 9)
Rushing Defense: 131.3 (27, 3)
Pass Defense: 207.1 (43, 4)
Total Defense: 338.4 (25, 3)
Scoring Defense: 23.2 (39, 3)
Turnover Margin: 0.08 (62, 6)
Sacks: 1.92 (72, 9)
Sacks Allowed: 3.00 (118, 9)
Madness 2018 Recruit Rankings:
#164 Jack Tuttle
#240 Solomon Enis