6. Colorado Buffaloes
6. California Golden Bears
Who will be the 5th best team in the Pac-12 South?
Answer: Utah Utes
@ Washington State
Predicted Record: 5-7
Players to watch: TE Jake Murphy, DE Trevor Reilly
The Scoop: Last year, Utah did not really overachieve or underachieve, but for the most part beat who they were supposed to beat and lost to who they were supposed to lose to. They went 5-7 overall, and I expect that will be much of the same this year. Though Utah’s program is slowly improving, so are the other teams around them.
The biggest problem Utah faces is the fact they only return twelve starters from last season, or six for each side of the ball– the lowest return rate in the entire conference. Obviously, this means a lot of new players in almost half of the positions available and therefore many areas for opponents to exploit. The Utes relied heavily on the run last year, and this season will be without school record holder John White, who rushed over 1,000 yards in two consecutive years and currently plays in the Canadian Football League. Without their star running back and three starting offensive linemen, the Utes will be rebuilding the strongest part of their game. Sophomore quarterback Travis Wilson will be back and showed decent numbers last season as a freshmen being thrown into the fire, but this simply will not be enough to get the Utes over the hump, as their passing game has tremendous need for improvement.
Things will be difficult on defense too, as Utah must shuffle things around: after losing three starting defensive linemen, Utah has had to move two of their starting linebackers to the line, one of their secondary players to the linebacker position, leaving only one returning starter in the secondary. Teams like Arizona, UCLA and Oregon will be tough for a front-line learning new positions, a team like Washington State could make it difficult in the air for an extremely inexperienced secondary, and teams like Stanford, Oregon State and UCLA could do damage all around. Utah’s road schedule is not an easy one either, as they must face BYU, Arizona, USC, Oregon and a rising team in Washington State away from home.
Despite my reservations, lead editor Dave Mac at Hoyos revenge has a different take. Check out his preview on Page 2.