The college football season inches ever closer as we move from July to August. There is no doubt that Utah has an uphill climb this season in the more loaded-than-ever Pac-12. As every Utah fan knows, gone are the days of the Mountain West and the six to seven automatic victories each year. Gone are the days of bad coaches like Mike Locksley, and generally whomever was coaching SDSU at the time. Utah is now in a conference with some big name coaches, and, of course, players with first round NFL talent.
In this edition of The U Fan Cast, the guys discuss which of those big name coaches and players will win each postseason award, which Utes will see all-conference teams, which teams will win each division, and, ultimately, which team wins the 2014 Pac-12 title.
But before you see and listen to their picks, here are mine - since I was gone for the recording of this episode.
Shane's Coach of the Year - Kyle Whittingham - Utah
Yup, I'm going homer with this pick. I think Coach Whitt and the 2014 Utes have a lot to prove, and I think they will. First, expectations aren't real high, so any slight "over achievement" will put Coach Whitt in the running for this award. The moves he's made in the off season, I believe, will pay off. Dave Christensen, Jim Harding, and Taylor Stubblefield bring a breath of fresh air to the offensive side of the ball. Also, Utah is back in the underdog roll, which is where Coach Whitt tends to thrive. I'll make my season win/loss predictions in a few weeks, but I believe with all those factors Coach Whitt will get this team where they need to be this season, and that will open some eyes.
Shane's Offensive Player of the Year - Brett Hundley - QB - UCLA
I believe that UCLA is going to have a great season, and Brett Hundley is the reason. He's yet to put together a completely great season. Last year, the Bruins tailed off just a bit, but I believe this is the season Hundley puts it all together and leads UCLA to the Rose Bowl. Jim Mora has put a lot of talent around him these past couple of recruiting classes, so there are no excuses for Hundley.
Shane's Defensive Player of the Year - Myles Jack - LB - UCLA
Myles Jack is a field tilting kind of player. Where ever Jack is the offense is aware of him and has to key on him. He's a freakish athlete that can change a game by himself. Jack is, in my opinion, the yin to Hundley's yang, and will help lead UCLA on a title run this season.
Shane's Newcomer of the Year - Devontae Booker - RB - Utah
If Coach Whitt's hiring of the new offensive staff pays off, then Devontae Booker should have a great season and provide the Utes with some great balance. His mix of speed and power is a great combination to keep defenses from teeing off on Travis Wilson, and should help keep Utah's offense on the field.
Pac-12 North Winner - Stanford
The Cardinal have the Ducks number, plus I like Mark Helfrich, but he's no Chip Kelly, and something is just off about the Ducks now. They're not as disciplined and will shoot themselves in the foot, and in a race against Stanford, that will cost them.
Pac-12 South Winner - UCLA
Like I stated earlier, with Brett Hundley at QB, and all the talent around him, I think this is UCLA's year. They have a good combination to matchup with either Stanford or Oregon in the title game.
Pac-12 Champ - UCLA
The Bruins have taken over LA, and now they are going to be crowned kings of the Pac-12 in 2014. They have a lot of talent and depth. As long as they don't get in their own way, they likely will punch their ticket to the inaugural College Football Playoff.
Here are the other guy's predictions this season in the Pac-12, check them out, and listen to today's The U Fan Cast to hear the debate and justification of why they picked who they did!
|Coach of the Year||Offensive Player of the Year||Defensive Player of the Year||Newcomer of the Year|
|Steven||Steve Sarkisian - USC||Nelson Agholor - WR - USC||Henry Anderson - DE - Stan||Devontae Booker - RB - UT|
|Jon||Mark Helfrich - Oregon||Sean Mannion - QB - OSU||Ifo Ekpre-Olomu - DB - Ore||Devontae Booker - RB - UT|
|Alex||Mark Helfrich - Oregon||Marcus Mariota - QB - Ore||Myles Jack - LB - UCLA||Devontae Booker - RB - UT|
|1st team||2nd Team|
|Steven||Dres Anderson||Andy Phillips||Tom Hackett||Eric Rowe||Nate Orchard||x|
|Jon||Dres Anderson||Andy Phillips||Eric Rowe||Nate Orchard||Gionni Paul||Tom Hackett|
|Alex||Tom Hackett||Andy Phillips||x||Kaelin Clay||Nate Orchard||Jason Whittingham||Dres Anderson|
|North Champion||South Champion||Pac-12 Champion|
What are your thoughts? Any names that we are forgetting? Is there a sleeper out there that could disrupt the conference standings and sneak into the Pac-12 title game, or even the Rose Bowl?
Let us know what you think!
Listen to the audio only version: