K, so everyone's been discussing the highs and lows of the team this year and I decided that it would just be easier to compound them all into one post. So here they are, your 2012 Utes, in one nice, not so little overview:
1. Quarterback: I'm honesty fine if Wynn's actually injured, because the QB corps is night and day from last year. Let's start by taking a look at the current backup, Jon Hays. The dude's shown in camp that he's not the same qb that he was last year: he's smarter, more in command of the full offense (unlike the simplified one that was all he could handle last year), is more confident in his abilities, and has had a full year of experience to help him out along the way. If Wynn goes down, I still expect us to have a balanced attack and for the Utes to get back into double digit wins. Same story for Wilson and Shulz. Both have had great camps, have shown that they have the talent to be here, and Wilson is a 6-6 dual threat QB that has the ability to learn from his mistakes and become a better QB with every practice. On top of that, Wynn has the weakest arm of the lot. That being said, Wynn's still the starter, and he's definitely got the Brian Johnson-like aire about him, where he;ll beat you with his brain if not his body. Regardless of who starts, the QB pool is talented and deep, and I honestly look forward to watching them work this year.
2. Running back: First of all, we have the most impressively durable running back I've seen in a 5-9 frame. White made it through a full season and over 300 carries with D's stacking the box and expecting him, and all he got was a sprained ankle in game 12? To me, that speaks a lot on his durability. We're not even going to go into his talent, since any of you who watched last year will know that nothing needs to be explained: to put it simply, White's got talent. This year, he has talent behind him as well, with Jerell Oliver (I know I messed up the name, my bad) and Kelvin York behind him and showing that they've got the skills to help out the team as well. You know it's a strength when Johnson's looking at more two-rb sets. Even with a more balanced attack than last year, the RB's are definitely going to rack up the numbers, and it'll be fun to watch them do it.
3. Receivers: Two words: Deep & Talented. These guys have the speed and the skills to beat most secondaries in the country, let alone the Pac. Sadly, they plateaued a bit in the last month of camp. Hopefully, they'll step it up this season and reach their potential, since the QB's will definitely be looking to work them for all they've got.
4. Tight ends: you've got to feel good about a group where the talent goes 5 to 6-deep. Whit and BJ have both even said that they might have to think of ways to get all the guys out on the field at the same time, which shows you the confidence they have in this set of men. I wouldn't bet on these guys just running slants and short passes over the middle, I'd actually expect to see them going deep on several plays, since they have the height and the size to beat out any linebackers, safeties, or corners.
5. COACHING: thought I'd miss this one, eh? Seriously, though, from what he's shown in practice, Brian Johnson has proven that he's no slouch and that he's perfectly capable for the job. His offensive mindset, to describe it simply, is to get the best people out on the field and make plays. The combination of two-TE sets, two rb sets, spread and pro sets should all add up to a very dangerous offense, especially with the people he's got out on the field for him. Look for a fun offense this year, especially given that these guys have been practicing all summers against one of the best D's in the Pac 12.
O-line: Plain and simple, the Achilles tendon of the offense is the line. Now the inside three are great, but the tackles definitely worry me, especially since Miles Mason, the projected RT, has had to sit out due to injury. They need to step up, or else the QB's going to be taking a lot of hits, which none of us want to hear if Wynn's truly the starting QB. Furthermore, the line is a huge factor in determining if the run game is going to be a success or not, so we need the tackles to step up and fast for the offense to be successful.
1. The Line: Even with the loss of Junior Salt for the year, this line is still going to be one of the best lines in the Pac, if not the country. With Nate, Joe, and Dave all having added muscle over the last year, I see an even stronger, faster line than last year, which is scary considering how good we were then. So, with Nate, Joe, Dave, and Star starting and all the talent they have behind them to rotate in if need be, I'm expecting quite a lot of action in the trenches and an increase in sacks and QB hurries and a decrease in run-yardage.
2. Secondary: Even with Blechen out for three games, the secondary has depth, speed, and talent. This is probably the area of the team that I know the least about, so I'll let you guys research it on your own and come to your own conclusions.
3. Coaching: Kalani Sitake, enough said.
4. Linebackers: I was going to put this as a question mark but changed my mind. The reason the coaching staff hasn't chosen the two to join Trevor at the position is because they're all doing great. To me, this level of depth and talent makes up for a lack of experience and bumps them into the "strengths" category. Also, kudos to Whit's nephew for being in the mix and proving that he's their cause of his skills, not his name.
Special teams Strengths:
1.Punting: when your punters on the Ray Guy watch list, you know you've got a good punter, and Sean has definitely earned the attention.
2. Returners: Lots of the same guys as last year covering returns, so I'm not worried about them.
Special Team Questions (not a weakness necessarily, but definitely could be):
1. Place-kicking: Coleman Peterson has the talent to be great. I mean, he's not Louie Sakoda, but he did brilliant in several games, particularly the WSU game. That being said, he's had a few mental breakdowns that just drive you crazy and make you hesitant to go for the field goal on 4th and short (e.g. Colorado). Hopefully, he can get his head in the right place and become great this year, but I guess we'll just have to wait and see.
All that being said, I think we have the potential to go undefeated this year. Is it likely to happen? No. Is it possible? With the crew of guys we have, definitely. And think of this: 2004 undefeated season, Fiesta bowl Champs; 2008 undefeated season, Sugar bowl champs; 2012 undefeated season, BCS National Champs???
So, what do you think?