It's nothing special and not really insightful (rarely has CFN ever been, though), but I thought I would post it. College Football News is doing their preseason lookaheads and today discussed Mountain West teams.
They rank Utah 47th in the nation, which behind TCU's 23rd ranking is the second best in the conference. Here's what they had to say about the Utes upcoming preseason:
Why to get excited: QB Brian Johnson is back after taking a year off following a major knee injury, and he has a loaded offense to make him shine with all the top receivers returning and four starters coming back on the offensive line. All the top linebackers are back after doing a fantastic job throughout last year against the run, while Louie Sakoda, who helped Utah lead the nation in net punting, is also back.
Why to be grouchy: There's work to be done on defense losing three key starters up front along with safety Casey Evans and All-American CB Eric Weddle. While the Utes will be good enough to play with most teams, a non-conference schedule that has road trips to play top 25 caliber Oregon State and Louisville teams, and a home date with a top-ten caliber UCLA, isn't a plus.
The number one thing to work on is: The overall pass defense. Even with Weddle and Evans, the Utah secondary was able to be dinked and dunked on to death. There weren't a slew of sacks and there could've been more overall pressure on the passer, but the defensive backs have to do
Can't say I disagree with it. Losing Weddle will hurt Utah's secondary, but I don't think it could get much worse from where they were last year. Brian Johnson's return will be big, as I expect him to be much more improved from his sophomore year -- and it wasn't as if he was all that bad in '05 either.
Utah's defense will need some work, but I'm not too worried. The Utes haven't had a really bad defense since 1996 and I don't expect the it to be a liability. The biggest difference between this year and last should be Utah's offense, which will spread the field out more than the offense did when Ratliff ran it. I also expect Brian Johnson to be more consistent than Ratliff was at the start of the year.
The 2007 preseason officially kicks off with Letter of Intent Day, which is February 7th. After that will be spring practice, with the annual Red & White game being played in April. Of course once we're beyond the actual game, the longest period without football begins. I don't think I'll be able to make it!