Is Utah in a better position today than they were at the start of fall camp? That's the question that could define how this season plays out and whether the Utes are ready for it. Unfortunately, it's also a hard question to answer because, on the whole, there still remains questions ... even if some questions were answered.
What we know is that this team has depth at quarterback and an offense filled with playmakers. While we agree losing Jordan Wynn this season would not be ideal, it's also not near the death sentence it might have felt at times last season. Jon Hays and Travis Wilson proved through camp they're capable of stepping in and leading this offense to varying degrees of success.
Yet we were also given the harsh realities of Life With Wynn - as he spent the final three days of fall camp not practicing due to soreness in his arm. The coaching staff has said there is nothing to it and they might be right, but after two years of injury-plagued play, it's hard to take them at their word. It's hard to not believe there might be something more there, even if, in the end, there really isn't.
I don't think they're lying to us, so, I don't want it to sound like we can't trust what they're saying. They probably do anticipate Wynn starting in a week and a half - but what about the week after that and the week after that?
Utah also found out just how delicate their offensive line is this season. They were faced with inexperience and injury early on in camp and, as it's come to a close, they're still quite the unknown. If there's an undoing in the offense, it might not be Wynn going down and rather an inconsistent and often defeated offensive line.
That's a scary thought because the line is where it all starts for the offense - or stops, if you think about it.
Fall camp also showed how much Utah's kicking game continues to be an issue. Neither Nick Marsh or Coleman Petersen alleviated fan concerns and once again indicated how much of a problem inconsistency could be for this year's Utes.
Hopefully a game doesn't come down to a field goal or we could be in an awful lot of trouble.
Utah also saw a bit of regression with its receiving corp, which is a huge surprise because they were supposedly one of the offensive strengths heading into fall camp. Hopefully it's not a lingering issue and the players, such as Anthony Denham quickly reemerge once the season starts, but it's hard not to be at least a bit disappointed with their development the past month of practice.
Fortunately, they still remain a very talented group, so, maybe they just need to flip the switch once the season starts and everything comes together. As I said earlier, this offense does have playmakers and most of them are at the receivers position ... but talent alone isn't going to get it done.
Ultimately, I'm a bit more pessimistic about this year's Utes than I was prior to fall camp. That's not to say I don't think they can be good, they definitely can, but right now, I get the sense the team is still trying to figure things out - especially on offense. That's never a place you want to be in heading into the final week or so before the season begins.
The good news is that much of that uncertainty can be rectified not just this next week, but also in their opener against Northern Colorado. I've been vocal in my criticism about opening the season against a FCS team in the past, but now I think it's actually a good thing for a team like Utah, who's still in a bit of transition on the offensive end. Not only will it allow Wynn a chance to see game action for the first time in almost a year, it gives the offensive line a chance to gel and Brian Johnson actual game-day experience before things get real.
So, I'm excited for the start of the season, even if some of my concerns weren't addressed in fall camp. I think this team still has the potential to be something very good, but they also could struggle if things aren't squared away by mid-September.