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The Utes got off to a rocky start in 2018, losing consecutive games to Washington and Washington State. Coach Kyle Whittingham’s squad rebounded soon after with a decisive 40-21 win over 14th ranked Stanford, while also taking down Pac-12 powers USC and Oregon at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
Utah would cap off the regular season with a win in the holy war over in-state rival BYU before falling to Washington in the Pac-12 Championship and Northwestern in the Holiday Bowl.
.@philsteele042 has released his pre season All-Pac-12 and pre season All-America teams. @BradleeAnae, @LekiFotu & @NBAxJay1 have earned not only first team All-Pac-12, but also All-America honors! https://t.co/LPBQpcnZsS pic.twitter.com/eodrNasFPX
Utah Football (@Utah_Football) June 13, 2019
Senior quarterback Tyler Huntley will look to put his injury plagued 2018 season behind him, while redshirt sophomore Jason Shelley backs him up. Senior running back Zack Moss will lead Utah’s run heavy attack, where he should get some help from junior Devonta’e Henry-Cole, who missed all of 2018 to an arm injury.
Redshirt senior Darrin Paulo is expected to slot in at left tackle, on an offensive line that could be dominated by underclassmen. On a more positive note for the offense, Utah’s top receiving targets from last season are back in Salt Lake City, with Britain Covey Jaylen Dixon leading the way.
Although the defense lost some key leaders to graduation, defensive coordinator Morgan Scalley has plenty of playmakers to work with. The senior-laden defensive line should be dominant in the trenches, as Bradlee Anae and Leki Fotu will make themselves at home in opposing backfields. All-Pac-12 corner Jaylon Johnson returns, as does a pair of senior safeties in Terrell Burgess and Julian Blackmon.
With five graduating seniors getting drafted into the NFL, there will be some sizeable voids left to fill for Utah. The defense will be without their top four tacklers, which includes Seattle Seahawks draftees Marquise Blair and Cody Barton. The offensive line lost a pair of seniors in Jordan Agasiva, and Jackson Barton, with the latter drafted by the Indianapolis Colts. Finally, the kicking game will have no familiar faces coming back, as punter Mitch Wishnowsky and placekicker Matt Gay were selected in the draft.
Anyone in the salt lake area wanna work on their punt returns/shag some balls for me?
Ben Lennon (@BenLennon95) May 7, 2019
Despite six-foot-nine receiver Darren Jones opting to play for Snow College instead of Utah, Whittingham’s coaching staff was able to haul in some key prospects on the recruiting trail. JUCO signee Bamidele Olaseni will provide some much needed depth on the offensive line, as should Satoa Laumea.
The Utes dipped into their in-state talent pool and were able to get the fifth ranked recruit in the state in defensive tackle Simote Pepa. Receiver recruits Donte Banton and Sione Vaki will look to offset the loss of Jones, while Australian kicker Ben Lennon could take kicking duties right off the bat.
|@ Oregon State
The schedule gods were quite kind to Utah, as the Utes avoid Oregon altogether this season. Their road trips, aside from their date with Washington, should come with little resistance, as Oregon State, USC, and Arizona are not projected to be major threats this year. The Washington game will nonetheless be very important, as the two teams could end up having a rematch in the conference championship game.
New Jersey residents can log on to 888Sport to wager on Utah’s Pac-12 title odds as well as their win total. With an over/under of nine wins, it will be a tough call to determine how Utah’s season plays out.
Regular season only. Conference championship games do not count.
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Andre has been writing for WSN since February 2019, covering college basketball and college football. A graduate of Florida State and UNC-Chapel Hill, he lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. When he is not writing, he enjoys playing sports and Magic: The Gathering.
Email: [email protected]More info on Andre Viljoen
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