With the kick off the University of Utah football season just three months away, it's that time of the year to start making predictions about what the Utes will accomplish this fall. On The U Fan Cast, we discussed our own predictions.
The first prediction that we all agreed on, was that the Utes should start the season off on a winning streak. The Utes start things off with Idaho State, an easy win. Followed by the Fresno State Bulldogs, who just lost their star quarterback to the NFL and should definitely be beatable, not to mention a Pac-12 team should beat a Mountain West Conference team at home.
The Utes then head to Big Ten country to face Michigan in the Big House, but with Rich Rodriguez's recruits mostly gone and current coach Brady Hoke on the hot seat, the Utes should match up well with the Wolverines and can walk away with the win.
The fourth win in a row could come when the Washington State Cougars come to visit. Although the Utes lost to them last year, it was a very close, winnable game and one they should handle this year, especially at home. After that, the Utes face UCLA in the Rose Bowl. Not exactly friendly territory, and a difficult place for the team to grab a fifth win, so this might be the first loss.
Two weeks later, the Utah football team heads to Corvallis and faces another opponent they have a very good shot at beating, Oregon State. With Brandin Cooks gone, that will help the Utes cause, but the trip to the Beaver's neck of the woods will no doubt be tough.
The second half of the season will be more of a challenge, with the likes of Oregon and Arizona State on the schedule, so losses could easily stack up. But the Utes have a very fair shot at starting things off with a bang. If Utah stays healthy and takes care of business, especially early on in the schedule, postseason play is back for Utah football.
Other predictions revolved around players. Much debate was about the stability of Travis Wilson at the quarterback position. As much as we, and Utah fans in general, hope that the big guy will suit up and lead for all 12 games, there are no guarantees. One big sack could mean more head trauma for Wilson. Even if he stays healthy, one of the Utes stable full of quarterbacks could prove to be more deserving of the starting job. Predictions are for Wilson to start the season off, with Conner Manning behind him and Oklahoma transfer Kendal Thompson in the third-string slot. That order could quickly change though, and Ute faithful may soon be cheering a passer other than Wilson at the helm.
Other players to watch include wide receiver Kenneth Scott, who should be both healthy and hungry for a breakout season. It's that kind of hunger and swag that the Utes sorely need to make any kind of impact in the Pac-12. Other members of the "Swag Squad" include Devontae Booker, who made himself into the stud of the spring game with multiple big plays. Look for Booker to bring back the traditional Utah style of running back to the field with his ability to grind game in and game out for the Utes. Perhaps the most exciting, dominant and vocal player for the Utes this fall is University of Miami transfer Gionni Paul. The linebacker brings the both the talent, attitude, and swagger of "The U" to the "U." He should be a leader on the field, not only in defensive production, but also in his ability to lead the team through any ups and downs during conference play.
In general, both offensive and defensive production should see a boost this upcoming Utah season. As long as the team can stay healthy, it looks as though Utah will finally have a solid corps of Pac-12 players that should bring a much needed level of desire, confidence, and aggressiveness to the field.
To hear the entire conversation, make sure to check out today's episode of The U Fan Cast!