ItsAllAboutTheUte.com 2010 UTAH UTES PRESEASON OVERVIEW 2009 Season Breakdown 2009 final record (overall, conference): 10-3, 6-2 Bowl Game: Poinsettia Bowl (W 37-27 vs. California) Final Ranking (AP, Coaches'): 18, 18 Conference finish: 3rd Mountain West Offensive rank: 54 Defensive rank: 19 2009 Individual Statistical Leaders Rushing: Eddie Wide, 1,069 yards, 12 TD Passing: Terrance Cain, 1,624 yards, 11 TD, 5 INT; Jordan Wynn, 1,329 yards, 8 TD, 3 INT Receiving: David Reed, 1,188 yards, 5 TD Tackles: Stevenson Sylvester, 81 total tackles; Mike Wright, 79 total tackles Sacks: Christian Cox, 5.5 sacks (5 solo, 1 assisted); Koa Misi, 5 sacks (4 solo, 2 assisted) Interceptions: Robert Johnson, 6 interceptions (1 touchdown) Key Matchups September 2 vs. Pittsburgh: The Utes open their 2010 season against last year's 15th ranked team. The Panthers' starting quarterback from a season ago, Bill Stull, graduated, but running back Dion Lewis and wide receiver Jonathan Baldwin should pose a challenge for the Utah defense. November 6 vs. TCU: The Utes have a relatively stress free schedule after they play Pitt opening night (with a possible surprise from Iowa State looming), but once they hit November 6, things could get a bit dicey starting with the Horned Frogs. Utah had defeated TCU three straight seasons until their 55-28 loss last season. Could be a decisive conference contest. November 13 @ Notre Dame: The Irish have been down lately, but this nonetheless marks one of the bigger games on the Utah schedule. Charlie Weiss never established success in South Bend, but 2010 marks the beginning of the Brian Kelly era. Utah will come to play in this one. November 27 vs. BYU: This has been a relatively high scoring affair of late, with both teams combining for at least 45 points in five of the past six seasons. Utah, BYU and TCU own the Mountain West and conference winner often comes down to who owns these games. Key Losses Column 1 Column 2 David Reed WR Zane Beadles G/T Koa Misi DE Steven Sylvester LB Mike Wright LB RJ Stanford CB Robert Johnson S Key Returning Players Column 1 Column 2 Jordan Wynn QB Matt Asiata RB Eddie Wide RB Caleb Schlauderaff OL Zane Taylor OL Tony Bergstrom OL Tevita Stephens OL Christian Cox DE Brandon Burton CB Lamar Chapman CB Joe Phillips K Sean Sellwood P Offensive Overview The Utah coaching staff pulled an unexpected move midseason in replacing then-junior quarterback Terrance Cain with freshman Jordan Wynn despite a solid statistical half-season from Cain. Wynn will begin the season as the starter, there's little doubt about that, but a little slip in production could cause rumblings for the senior Cain to take over. Utah is not a rebuilding team and will have little patience for growing pains in a season full of potential. Matt Asiata racked up 330 yards and four touchdowns before tearing his ACL against Louisville in late September. Eddie Wide proved to be a competent 'fill-in' after he took over after Asiata got hurt, rushing for over 1,000 yards and 12 touchdowns. Asiata was awarded one more year of eligibility and will likely split time with Wide this season. The running game should be effective thanks not only to the two backs, but to the return of four of five starting offensive linemen. Zane Beadles, a first team All-American a season ago, was drafted in the second round by the Denver Broncos. Zane Taylor and Caleb Schlauderaff will lead the offensive line, while Tony Bergstrom also returns after starting every game at right tackle a season ago. Defensive Overview Koa Misi, Stevenson Sylvester, Mike Wright and Robert Johnson will be playing in the NFL this season, but the Utes should be strong on the defensive side once again. They were 19th in total defense last yea and 9th in pass efficiency defense. The pass defense will be led by cornerback Brandon Burton with Lamar Chapman lining up on the other side. Chapman played in nickel situations last season and started in certain circumstances. Justin Taplin-Ross started against Wyoming a season ago and will assume a starting role in 2010. Defensive end Christian Cox was a starter at the end of last season and led the team in sacks with 5.5. Dave Kruger will return to play defensive tackle and is one of the more promising defenders on the Utah roster. Meanwhile, Derrick Shelby will likely start the season on the bench after suffering a knee injury last season, but is expected to have an impact once he fully recovers. Linebacker is the cause for most concern in Salt Lake City. It's hard to name a starting lineup at this point with a couple of walk-ons, a converted quarterback and a few younger prospects vying for starting positions. J.J. Williams recorded 55 tackles as a freshman in 2006 and returned from a church mission last spring. He's expected to make a splash among the inexperienced linebackers corps. Special Teams Overview Joe Phillips connected on 20 of 22 field goals and 38 of 39 extra point attempts. He returns for his senior season after replacing Louie Sakoda a season ago. Sean Sellwood returns as the starting punter after a season in which he forced 30 fair catches, pinned 19 punts inside the 20 and averaged 42.9 yards per punt. Shakey Smithson averaged 24.7 yards per kickoff return and 9.5 yards per punt in 2009, and is expected to provide the same consistent production in 2010. Head Coach: Kyle Whittingham Entering his 6th season as the Utah Utes head coach, Kyle Whittingham has guided his Utes to five consecutive bowl appearances including a Sugar Bowl victory in 2008 that capped off an undefeated season. Willingham was the defensive coordinator under Urban Meyer before Meyer left for the Gators. Upon Meyer's departure, Whittingham was offered the head coaching position at both Utah and BYU-his alma mater. Obviously, he chose Utah. Whittingham is a defensively minded coach and even played linebacker for BYU in the late 70s and early 80s. He improved the Utah defense, transforming the Utes into the 11th ranked defense in the nation in 2008. The offense has progressively slipped in terms of total offense in each year under Whittingham, although it has seen a bit of resurgence in recent years. Top 2011 Draft Prospects Column 1 Column 2 Eddie Wide RB Matt Asiata RB Zane Taylor C Caleb Schlauderaff OL Joe Phillips K 2010 Draft Class Season Prediction 2nd Mountain West Conference Utah enters the 2010 season with a very solid team. Experience on the offensive and defensive lines will benefit the Utes up front. Questions at the linebacker position will be one of the more interesting storylines to follow in Salt Lake City this season. Depth is not in question, as there are several promising linebackers who had solid springs, but rather a lack of experience. With a strong defensive line and a secondary that should be solid, the linebacker position will be key to the success of this defense. Jordan Wynn is the future of the Utah offense; nobody's questioning that. But his relative lack of experience has some worried that he'll need a year to develop into the quarterback they need to lead them to a conference title. Depth at the position has put a lot of minds at ease, though. Wynn's performance as the starter in November and in the Poinsettia Bowl bodes well for this season, but with a win now attitude heading into the season, his progress and production early on will be closely monitored.