Last Season: 5-7 (2-7) Pac-12
It was kind of a weird season for the Utes in 2013. They started strong with a 3-1 record including wins over Utah State, Weber State, and BYU, before they then went 2-6 over the final eight. That stretch included losses to the likes of Arizona and Washington State, but one of their two wins was over Stanford. See? Weird.
Sophomore QB Travis Wilson performed adequately early-on, but the Utah offense to stalled-out pretty hard when he went down with an injury mid-season. He finished the season outside the top half of the conference in every major statistical category except interceptions, where his 16 picks were the second-most in the conference. The running game was a little more promising, but only a little, as James Poole and Kelvin York combined for 1,070 yards and eight touchdowns on the season. Dres Anderson was a statistical bright spot for the Utes’ offense after he finished top-ten in the conference in receiving yards (1,002), yards per reception (18.9), and receiving touchdowns (7).
The Utes will bring back only half of their starters from last year. It worked out that at least one player in each position group will be back, which is great – but only three groups (O-line, LBs, and DBs) have more than one starter returning, which is not great.
At the top of the Utes’ list of “gone but not forgotten” players is Trevor Reilly. The defensive lineman/linebacker earned himself first team All-Conference honors after he lead the team in tackles (100), tackles for a loss (16), sacks (8.5), interceptions (1), and fumble recoveries (3) last season. His skill-set as a hybrid defensive end/outside linebacker made him hugely valuable for Utah, and as head coach Kyle Whittingham said, “it takes two guys to replace Trevor.”
Keys this Season
Where to Start – The Utes will absolutely need more consistency from a hopefully healed Wilson if they expect to finish in the top half of the Pac-12 South. UCLA and Arizona State will be better than they were a season ago, USC is USC, and even Cal looks like they’re baby-stepping toward improvement. The halcyon days of the Mountain West and Star Lotulelei feel a lot further removed than two years, and it’s going to take a big jump to keep coach Kyle Whittingham’s name out of hot seat discussions.
It doesn’t look good for Utah this season. They lost a lot of players from a team that was already struggling to compete in a tough division. Expect something close to a last-place finish for Utah this season, accompanied by talk (but probably not more than talk) of Whittingham moving on. Hope for Arizona to regress and Cal to stay the same, but don’t count on either. Pretty bleak.