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Breaking Down Utah’s Depth Chart

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NCAA Football: Heart of Dallas Bowl-Utah vs West Virginia Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports

Don’t overanalyze the depth charts released by the Utah Utes football team. Head coach Kyle Whittingham always seems to play them off when the media asks him about them. With that in mind, let’s look it over and try to draw some high level conclusions.

UtahUtes.com

Offense

No surprises at quarterback with Tyler Huntley listed as the starter and Jason Shelley and Jack Tuttle battling it out for the backup position. Running back is also as expected with Zack Moss atop the depth chart and Armand Shyne as the No. 2 running back. Receiver is one position where I would caution fans from reading too much into things (just a note, wide receiver X and Z are outside and wide receiver Y and E are slot receivers, wide receiver X is typically the No. 1 wide receiver). Offensive coordinator Troy Taylor has stated in the past that he likes to have eight wide receivers that can play, meaning that in an ideal situation, every receiver on the two deep will see playing time. Siaosi Mariner figures to be one of Utah’s top receivers this year and is atop the depth chart at wide receiver X (freshman Jaylen Dixon is his backup, which is a bit interesting because they are built so differently and Dixon seems like more of a slot receiver to me). Some fans might be surprised to see Bryan Thompson ahead of Bronson Boyd. I see that as a positive for Thompson. He showed promise last year, and starting at the top of the depth chart means that he is playing well. Boyd will absolutely see the field a lot this year, so I think this is more an endorsement of Thompson than any kind of knock on Boyd. The offensive line is mostly as you would expect, but I do think there will be position battles, and we might see Utah use more than five linemen this year. Utah returns four starters in this group, so expect those four to hold on to their jobs, but players like Nick Ford and Beeno Schirmer could push for playing time.

Defense

Utah rotates defensive tackles, so it makes sense to see an OR at both positions to essentially have four starters. Bradlee Anae has left end locked down (though Mika Tafua will definitely play this year). Right defensive end is the one where I think we see the biggest position battle. Currently, Caleb Repp is first team, and Maxs Tupai is second team, but this could change, and I expect we see a lot of Tupai this season regardless of where he is on the depth chart. Linebacker features two seniors in Cody Barton and former safety Chase Hansen. The secondary is absolutely loaded. All of the starters have playing experience and looked good last year. The backups all have potential and/or playing time under their belt. If the defensive line performs at Utah’s typical level, this could be the best defense Utah has had since joining the Pac-12.

Special Teams

Utah has All Americans across the board here with a Ray Guy Award winner, a Lou Groza Award winner, and Britain Covey, who earned freshman All American honors in 2015 before leaving for his Mission.

A couple things to remember: this depth chart does not seem to have any of the players who arrived to campus this summer, and just because a player does not appear on the two deep does not mean they will not play. Guys like the aforementioned Schirmer and some of the other incoming players (like Solomon Enis and a few of the returned missionaries could also play their way into the two deep before Utah takes the field against Weber State).