#33 Utah Football 2012 Preview

Utah Utes

2012 Overall Rank: #33
#4 Pac-12
Utah College Football 2012 Team Preview
Utah Team Page


Utah had a respectable season in 2011.  It was their first in a new conference, and they came out on the winning side of things.  They hit their stride in the last half of the season winning four of their last five games on their way to a bowl victory against a tough Georgia Tech squad.  When they were good, they were good.  When they were bad, they got beat pretty handily as all but one of their losses was by more than a touchdown.  All of their statistical leaders return in 2012 and they are set up to have more success in the coming year.  

2011 Record: (8-5)
2011 Bowl:  Sun Bowl vs Georgia Tech (W 30-27 OT)
Coach: Kyle Whittingham (66-25 at Utah, 66-25 Overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Brian Johnson
Defensive Coordinator:  Kalani Fifita Sitake    

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: John White, RB, 1,519 yards
Passing: Jon Hays, QB, 1,459 yards
Receiving: Devonte Christopher, WR, 663 yards
Tackles: Brian Blechen, DB, 68
Sacks: Trevor Reilly, LB, 5
Interceptions: Brian Blechen, DB, 3

Other Key Returnees: WR Dres Anderson, WR Luke Matthews, QB Jordan Wynn, DL Star Lotulelei, DB Eric Rows

Key Losses: LB Chaz Walker, DB Conroy Black, LB Matt Martinez, DE Derrick Shelby, OL Tony Bergstrom, OL John Cullen

Utah led the Pac-12 in a few key categories: scoring defense and turnover margin.  If you have to lead a conference statistically, those two aspects of the game are not bad ones by any stretch.  They held proficient offenses to just over 20 points per game for the duration of the season.  They also out-possessed their opponents game in and game out.  They were 14th in the nation at ball control.  Overall, they ranked third in the conference in total defense and generally forced teams to pass with their stout run D.  A contributing factor was their ability to get to the quarterback as the Utes racked up over two sacks per game.

Ute quarterback Jon Hays, who was pressed into action when starter Jordan Wynn was injured, did not have the best season under center.  He only threw 12 touchdowns to eight interceptions and his 1,400+ yards need to improve.  That is why Utah had a poor passing game and only averaged 173 yards per game.  Couple that with only 137 yards rushing per contest and it leads to subpar offensive production at only 310 yards per game.  Running back John White is on the Doak Walker pre-season watch list so the hope is that the running attack improves.  Though the defense held other teams out of the end zone, the offense held themselves out of the end zone.  They only averaged 25 points per game.  Against stronger teams, Utah seemed to get blown out.  They could not muster more than 14 points per game.  They also need to protect the quarterback better in 2012.  He was sacked two and a half times per game last season.  

The Bottom Line:
Utah is hoping to build on their strong record from 2011 during year two in the Pac-12.  It will not be easy in a top heavy conference.  The Utes have a strong defense to build on and they will be in games because of their defensive efforts.  John White is poised to have a stellar year at running back.  Utah is hoping he lives up to the Doak Walker Award hype.  Jordan Wynn is back at quarterback and will have to improve in order for Utah to take the next step.  The Utes need to be able to match the high-flying offenses the Pac-12 offers week in and week out.  To win eight games in year one was a solid effort.  It is a testament to the strength of the league that eight wins puts you in seventh place.  Utah will probably be right around eight wins again in 2012.  Hopefully, that will rank them higher than seventh in the final standings.

Projected Bowl: Holiday Bowl

2011 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 137.62 (80th in nation, 7th in conference)
Passing Offense:  173.23 (99, 12)
Total Offense: 310.85 (109, 12)
Scoring Offense: 25.00 (74, 9)
Rushing Defense: 113.54 (20, 3)
Pass Defense: 237.38 (74, 4)
Total Defense: 350.92 (38, 3)
Scoring Defense: 20.23 (19, 1)
Turnover Margin: .77 (14, 1)
Sacks: 2.31 (29, 5)
Sacks Allowed: 2.54 (95, 10)

Madness 2013 NFL Draft Rankings:
#24 Star Lotulelei

Madness 2012 Football Recruit Rankings:
#242 Justin Thomas
#246 Cedrick Poutasi