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Utes begin spring camp

A new-look offense, some quarterback questions, and a team working to prove itself amid two straight losing seasons.

Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

Utah football kicked off spring football Tuesday and hopefully ushered in a new era of success - something that has, for the most part, eluded the program since joining the Pac-12 in 2011.

It all begins, and may end, with the quarterback spot. Travis Wilson, whose career looked all but done at the end of last season, returned to practice in limited action and very well could be poised to win his role back as starter. It's an important next few weeks as the Utes look to establish an offensive identity and hopefully work toward locking down the quarterback spot. The latter probably isn't going to happen this go around, and will most certainly have to wait until fall camp, but all eyes will continue to be on Wilson's rehabilitation and whether he can truly regain his position as starting quarterback.

Pushing him will be Kendal Thompson, the quarterback who transferred from Oklahoma and very well could be dropped into the starting role by the time the 2014 season kicks off later this year. The quarterback battle, which could prove to be the fiercest yet at Utah, has the chance to define the season, either with the triumphant return of Wilson or the emergence of Thompson or Conner Manning.

So, while the results on the field have been limited, there is no question that the Utes finally have quarterback depth. That could prove to be the deciding factor in whether 2014 marks the return to a bowl game for the Utes or potentially Kyle Whittingham's swan song.

The Utes will also work under the leadership of a new offensive coordinator - as Dave Christensen, the former head coach of Wyoming, joined the staff last year. It's clear Christensen has a blue print for what he wants to do, and it will require some changes from the offense Utah ran under Dennis Erickson last season. However, the hope remains that the talent is good enough, and more consistent enough, to elevate a unit that has, beyond the first half of last season, been absolutely dreadful since 2010 ended.

Christensen's offense hopefully will get it turned around. He'll certainly have plenty of weapons under center to do it - but what makes it go will ultimately be the offensive line and receivers who can, hopefully, catch the ball.

Here's to 2014 proving more successful than 2013. Certainly the expectations will be grounded, if only for so many unanswered questions. I guess we'll find out if spring can help answer those questions.