For this edition of the U Fan Cast, we tried something different. It was just Alex doing it this time, and instead of covering multiple topics, we stuck to just spring football. For the podcast, there was a recap of the offense, defense, and special teams. There are a lot of new faces on the team this year, especially on the offensive line and in the secondary.
For the offense, I think everything needs to be taken with a grain of salt, but I think there is potential there. Offensive coordinator Troy Taylor has a proven track record developing quarterbacks and calling plays to run an effective offense. There is talent for him to work with as well. This is the best I have felt about Utah’s quarterback situation since the team joined the Pac-12. Troy Williams, Tyler Huntley, and Cooper Bateman all bring different elements to the team, and it is nice to have all that playable depth. At running back, Joe Williams left a huge hole to fill. I do think Utah will be fine at running back though. This year we will likely see a by committee approach for multiple reasons, partially because Utah has multiple backs all deserving of playing time. I hope the two-back sets we have seen in spring are utilized during the season. The wide receivers have been up and down. There is potential in the group, but they have trouble at times getting separation, which could partially be because they are learning a new offense with new route trees. As they get more comfortable in the offense, I think we will see them emerge this season. The offensive line is still a bit of a work in progress. I think with time they will gel more. Jim Harding is a great coach, who will get the unit where it needs to be this season.
On defense, there are so many playmakers out this spring and so many highly touted recruits coming in this summer that it is tough assess groups like the secondary. The defensive line will just reload like usual. Players like Leki Fotu, Chris Hart, Bradlee Anae, and others will be able to step in without missing a beat. This is a group you never have to worry about at Utah. Linebackers were an area of weakness at times last season due to inexperience and injury. This year however, I think they could be a strength. Everyone is back with a year more of experience. Kavika Luafatasaga is primed for a huge senior year. Things really began to click for him at the end of last season. With his size and physical tools, he could be a monster in Utah’s defense this year. Donavan Thompson has also had a nice spring. He has a nose for the football and reminds me a bit of Gionni Paul. In the secondary, I think it is really too early to judge this group because there are several players arriving this summer that will push to start like Jaylon Johnson and Tareke Lewis at outside cornerback and Javelin Guidry in the slot. One player who has had a nice spring though is Corrion Ballard. He is living up to the hype of being a four-star recruit. He is a rangy safety who can also deliver a big hit.
Utah’s kicker position likely will not be decided until fall camp when I believe former Bingham standout Chayden Johnston returns from his mission. Utah’s kickers have struggled to consistently make field goals. Hayes Hicken is probably the leader right now, but this will not be settled for awhile. At punter, Mitch Wishnowsky has continued to be excellent. He ran a fake punt in the scrimmage Tuesday and gained about 40 yards. He is big and fast, and I would not be surprised if we see him run a few fakes in 2017.