Utah and our 2010 opponents

I have posted this as a comment on some MWCconnection stories, but I thought I'd make it a fanpost here.  Here are the number of returning starts for every MWC team:


Obviously, to get 22 players to 220 starts requires an average of 10 starts per starter. Now, several of these teams are replacing big pieces (Utah with 5 players to the NFL), but the returning starters for these 5 teams indicate a good chance of success for each of them:

1. UNLV:
Offense: 154
Defense: 180
TOTAL: 334

2. SDSU:
Offense: 183
Defense: 140
TOTAL: 323

3. TCU:
Offense: 185
Defense: 117
TOTAL: 302

4. Wyoming:
Offense: 131
Defense: 144
TOTAL: 275

5. Utah:
Offense: 144
Defense: 78
TOTAL: 222

I think UNLV should be much improved with new coaching, a better D, and some very good offensive talent (especially Payne). Wyoming should be better than last year, but their record might not show it (OOC includes Boise, Texas and Toledo along with SUU), TCU should be terrifyingly good, and I think Hoke has SDSU on the way to a bowl game (they should be 3-1 OOC winning against USU, NMSU, and Nicholls State, but losing to Missouri). Utah loses a lot of defense, but defense is rarely the problem at Utah.

CSU (218) and AF (216) are right near the line, so they might be okay:

5. CSU:
Offense: 90
Defense: 128
TOTAL: 218

6. AF:
Offense: 84 (all skill players, no line)
Defense: 132
TOTAL: 216

The last 2 teams have more to be concerned about:

Offense: 105 (almost all line, plus Jacobson)
Defense: 70
TOTAL: 175

Offense: 104
Defense: 61
TOTAL: 165

UNM really can’t get much worse, so I expect they’ll go 2-12 or 1-11 again. BYU might be in line to have their 4-year streak of double-digit wins broken this year, as they have no offensive talent returning to run or throw behind their very good OL, and their defense should take a big step backward. Losing Harvey was a big blow.


And then, as I've also posted several times, here is Utah's 2011 likely starting lineup:


QB: Wynn, JR (third-year starter)
RB: Shakerin, JR (first-year starter)
OL: Cullen, SR (second-year starter) or Percy T, SO (second-year starter)
OL: Brenner/Stevens, JRs (second or third-year starter)
OL: Sai or Jones, JRs (no matter who it is, a first-year starter)
OL: Brenner/Stevens, JRs (second or third-year starter)
OL: Bergstrom, SR (third-year starter)
WR: Matthews, JR (second-year starter)
WR: Christopher, JR (second-year starter)
WR: Lee, SR or Fitzgerald, JR (first-year starters)
TE: Moeai, JR (third-year starter)

So that’s 8/11 returning starters on O, and then the D:

DL: Shelby, SR (fourth-year starter)
DL: Siliga, SR (third-year starter)
DL: Kruger, JR (third-year starter)
DL: Talimaivao, SR (third-year starter)
LB: Williams, SR (third-year starter)
LB: King, SR (third-year starter)
LB: Fehoko, SO (second or third-year starter) or Martinez, SR (third-year starter)
CB: Burton, SR (third-year starter)
CB: Black, JR (could be a second-year starter because he may start in 2010)
SS: Washington or Spikes, both would be Sophs and first-year starters
FS: Bird, SR or Payne, SO (whoever wins the job this year will start again in 2011).

That’s 9/11 or 10/11 on D, replacing only one CB (and maybe not even that, if Black starts this year) and SS. If 2010 Utah is as good as I think they’re going to be, 2011 Utah should be absolutely special.


I thought these two things were interesting.  There should be some 2010 surprises in the MWC (UNLV for instance) and I am expecting great things out of Utah in 2011.

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