2009 Utah Preview |
2009 Utah Offense
2009 Utah Defense |
2009 Utah Depth
2008 Utah Preview |
2007 Utah Preview |
What you need to know:
For all the good things the team and the offense did last year,
the attack was a bit inconsistent. However, it always came
through when it had to. The receiving corps is undergoing a
total overhaul, RB Darrell Mack is gone, and QB Brian Johnson,
the heart and soul, has to be replaced. Seven starters might be
gone, but the offense might be even more talented.
David Reed and Aiona Key lead an unproven, but ultra-athletic
receiving corps with big-time upside. RB Matt Asiata should
shine with a bigger role, and the line returns enough talent,
with three starters coming back, to be solid. But the focus will
be on the quarterback situation where Corbin Louks is a
speedster who could add more of a rushing element than Johnson
did, but JUCO transfer Terrance Cain is a good passer who’ll see
time if he doesn’t win the job outright.
Passing: Corbin Louks
4-7, 104 yds, 0 TD, 0 INT
Rushing: Matt Asiata
146 carries, 707 yds, 12 TD
Receiving: Jereme Brooks
30 catches, 331 yds, 1 TD
Star of the offense: Senior OT Zane Beadles
Player who has to step up and become a star: Junior QB
Unsung star on the rise: Senior WR David Reed
Best pro prospect: Beadles
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Beadles, 2) RB Matt
Asiata, 3) OG Caleb Schlauderaff
Strength of the offense: Offensive Line, Wide Receiver
Weakness of the offense: Sure-Thing Quarterback, Wide Receiver
Projected Starter: Junior
Corbin Louks came to
Utah as a top prospect who had to wait in the wings while Brian
Johnson was finishing up his great career. The 6-0, 190-pound
junior was used here and there, seeing time in nine games last
season, and finishing with just 104 passing yards and 218 on the
ground. A tremendous runner, he adds a whole other dimension to
the attack that Johnson was able to, but he’s not the same
passer. Unable to pull away in spring ball, he’ll have to show
something special to take the job by the horns this fall. If
nothing else, he’ll play more thanks to his experience and 4.42
Projected Top Reserves:
Neck-and-neck in the race for the starting job is 5-11,
186-pound junior Terrance
Cain, a JUCO transfer who is being given every shot. The
National JUCO Offensive Player of the Year might not be all that
big, but he’s a pinpoint passer having completed 68% of his
throws for 3,318 yards and 29 touchdowns for Blinn CC in Texas.
While he’ll be a sharper passer than Louks, he’s not the same
runner and will have to show early on that he knows the offense
to be a good decision-maker.
Jordan Wynn came to school early and threw his hat into
the ring for the starting job. He's not that big at 6-1 and 190
pounds, but he's an accurate passer, moves well, and has a big
arm. Very smart, he can handle the workload early on if needed.
Watch Out For ... Louks to hold on to the job.
While the coaching staff is saying it’s a dead-even heat, Louks
knows the offense a bit better and will be the safer choice to
start. That doesn’t mean Cain won’t play, but Louks should be
the No. 1.
Strength: The combination. Louks has
the potential to be the Mountain West’s premier running
quarterback who doesn’t play at Air Force. Combine his rushing
ability with the passing skills of Cain and the Utes should have
a good rotation.
Weakness: A No. 1. Louks might
be a great prospect and Cain was wanted badly by Kansas State,
but neither one has turned into the sure-thing top dog. There’s
no real separation between the two, and that’s not really a
Outlook: The Utes could replace Brian
Johnson’s production, but can they do anything about the loss of
his leadership? It’s one thing to take a team to 13-0, and it’s
another to be able to do it with a late drive against TCU and a
light’s-out first half against Alabama. Louks will be
devastating running the ball, but can he throw in a full-time
role? Cain has the JUCO experience and he played in a similar
offense over the last few years, but he’s still learning on the
Projected Starters: Taking over the full-time
rushing job will be senior
Matt Asiata, the
team’s leading rusher with 707 yards and 12 touchdowns. Always
fresh because he combined with Darrell Mack, Asiata wasn’t used
as a workhorse with fewer than 20 touches in every game. Working
out of the Asiata Formation, he was able to score in eight
games, and even threw two touchdown passes, highlighted by a
three score day against Utah State. At 5-11 and 230 pounds, the
former JUCO transfer brings excellent power and surprising
quickness now that he’s 100% healthy after suffering a broken
leg that cost him all of 2007.
Eddie Wide will be the speed back in the rotation with Asiata. While
he’s a tough 5-10 and 195 pounds, he’s not a big power back and
has been used sparingly as a change-of-pace option. The former
Nevada Gatorade Player of the Year ran for 183 yards in his
limited role and didn’t catch a pass, but he’ll be used in a
variety of ways.
Ready to make some noise is redshirt
freshman Sausan Shakerin, a 6-2, 215-pound Utah Mr.
Football who has the speed and size to take over the rushing
load. Considered to be part of the attack going into last year,
he ended up redshirting with all the talent in front of him. Now
“Shak” should be a fan favorite with his mix of talents and his
tremendous upside. He’ll likely be the lead back going into next
Watch Out For ... More of the same
from Asiata. The team has to make up for Mack’s 123 carries from
somewhere, and while Asiata might get a little more work, the
running of QB Corbin Louks could pick up the slack. Asiata
should put up big numbers, pushing for 1,000 yards and over 15
scores, but he’s not going to have to carry too much more of the
Strength: Upside. Asiata is a sure-thing
while Wide is a promising speedster. And then there’s Shakerin,
the star-in-waiting who has the talent to be the best of the
Weakness: Pass catchers. The backs
weren’t asked to do much in the passing game, and that was fine
with the power runners getting all the work. Now, with some
speedier options in the mix, there needs to be a conscious
effort to swing the ball to the outside.
It’ll be a different look for the running game putting more
pressure on Asiata to stay healthy and carry more of the
offense. Darrell Mack and his 541 yards are gone, but the ground
game should be even better with QB Corbin Louks running early
and often and the expected emergence of Wide and Sausan Shakerin
to make the difference. There will be a good mix of power,
speed, and quickness from the three backs in a steady rotation.
It’ll be a shock if the Utes don’t tear off more far more than
2,000 rushing yards.
Projected Starters: It’s time for
Aiona Key to shine. The superstar JUCO transfer was supposed to come
in and take over a starting spot right away, but it took him a
while to get into the mix after getting to school late and he
only caught a pass for 19 yards. However, he was a tremendous
special teamer in his limited action, blocking three kicks, and
now is expected to be a big-time producer for the offense. The
6-4, 195-pound senior, and former Boise State Bronco, has
next-level athleticism, speed and leaping ability.
Looking to become the No. 1 target will be
David Reed, a 6-0,
190-pound speedster who has tremendous skills and high upside.
He’ll finally get a chance to play a big role after catching 25
passes for 427 yards and six touchdowns, with four scores in the
final three games, and averaging 17.1 yards per catch on the
year. The former JUCO transfer caught 111 passes in ten games
for Pasadena City College and could become the Mountain West’s
breakout star if he plays as well as expected.
170-pound Jereme Brooks
isn’t all that big, but he’s a nice inside target who came
on at the end of last year and finished with 30 catches for 221
yards with a score. Extremely quick, he was also used
occasionally as a runner with 60 yards and a score on ten
carries, and he’s excellent when he gets the ball on the move.
He even threw a pass for 33 yards.
Luke Matthews came up with a strong offseason
and became the top option for the No. 4 receiver job. At 6-1 and
205 pounds he's a big, tough target with phenomenal athleticism
and great weight room strength. He has all the tools and could
quickly grow into a dangerous all-around receiver.
267-pound senior Chris
Joppru had a nice season making six catches for 59 yards and
a score and served as a tremendous blocker. Mostly a scout
teamer over the first part of his career, he showed decent
upside and good potential, and now he should be used more as a
Projected Top Reserves:
Quarterback DeVonte Christopher was the 2007 Nevada Prep
Player of the Year after throwing for 3,265 yards and 44
touchdowns. He's a fantastic all-around athlete who can do a
little of everything well, including catch the ball. At 6-1 and
190 pounds with tremendous speed, he has the potential to grow
into a game-changing receiver and will be an emergency
quarterback if everything falls apart.
John Peel got a sixth
year of eligibility after making just one catch for seven yards
last year and spending his first four seasons with a back
problem along with a knee injury. An extremely promising
prospect when he came to Utah, he’s simply never been healthy.
At 6-1 and 191 pounds, he has good size and good talent. He
hasn’t been able to show it off.
Elijah Wesson is a
good runner as well as a receiver with ten carries for 32 yards
last year. However, he didn’t catch a pass after making five
grabs for 15 yards two years ago. Held in check by an ankle
problem, and a deep rotation of receivers in front of him, the
5-11, 190-pounder will work behind Jereme Brooks.
215-pound JUCO transfer
Shaky Smithson spent last year catching 58 passes for 795
yards, and running 83 times for 348 yards, for East Los Angeles
CC. A fantastic all-around athlete and an all-star high school
quarterback and basketball player, he’ll be thrown into the mix
right away playing behind David Reed.
Backing up Chris
Joppru at tight end is junior Brad Clifford, a promising
6-4, 250-pound receiver who didn’t do much of anything last
year, but he has the athleticism and the hands to become a
Watch Out For ... Reed. All
smallish, quick Utah receivers with any semblance of talent will
be compared to Steve Smith. Reed isn’t Smith, but he’s a
game-breaking prospect who led the regular receivers with a
17.1-yard-per-catch average and is on the verge of stardom.
Strength: Talent. There isn’t much in the way of proven
production at all four spots, and a few JUCO transfers will have
to step up and shine right away, but this year’s receiving corps
has more talent than last year’s. That goes for the backups,
Weakness: Starters. Yeah, the Utes are
loaded with talented players who should blow up with more work,
but it’s going to sting at some point to lose Freddie Brown,
Bradon Godfrey, and Brent Casteel. Those three combined for 176
catches for 2,020 yards and 15 touchdowns.
There might be major losses as the receiving corps has to be
completely overhauled, but it might be a case of going one step
back to take a giant leap forward. David Reed should be an
all-star, Key has the skills to be special, and Brooks is a
reliable short target. Consistency might be a problem, but there
will be plenty of big plays.
Projected Starters: The line gets enough
talent back to be solid, led by the star of the show at left
tackle, Zane Beadles. The 6-4, 305-pound junior could’ve left early for the
NFL, and likely would’ve been a top 100 pick, but he’s back for
another season and should be on most All-America short lists.
While he’s not a brick wall of a pass blocker, he’s good enough
to get by and is a devastating run blocker. A star recruit when
he came to Utah, he has lived up to the hype.
again at right guard is
Caleb Schlauderaff, a steady producer who has gotten better
and better as his career has gone on. The 6-4, 300-pound junior
is on the verge of all-star honors and should be one of the
Mountain West’s best guards over the next few years. The team’s
best run blocker, he’ll combine with Beadles to form a
tremendous left side.
The big move of spring ball was
taking center Zane Taylor and moving him to right guard. The 6-2, 300-pound junior
earned honorable mention All-Mountain West honors in his first
season as a center, and while he’s a very smart, very tough
quarterback for the offensive front, he should be better one
spot over not that he can get on the move a bit more. He started
out his career as a defensive tackle, and he has grown into a
star in a big hurry.
With Taylor moving over,
Tyler Williams will
get the first look at center after seeing plenty of work last
year. The 6-1, 282-pound senior is insanely strong and more than
ready to see more time, but he’ll be in a battle to keep the
gig. His claim to fame is setting the world weightlifting record
for a 13-to-15-year-old benching close to 400 pounds, and while
he's strong, he's not the all-around blocker Taylor is.
6-6, 300-pound sophomore
Tony Bergstrom was a spot starter and a key reserve last
season. While he’s a true sophomore, he left for a church
mission in 2005 and will be 23 by the start of the season. He’s
ready. With good size and toughness he’s expected to be a rock
at right tackle, but he’ll have to prove he can be consistent.
If he doesn’t work out there, he’s talented and versatile enough
to play just about anywhere on the line.
Projected Top Reserves:
Pushing hard for the starting center job is
Tevita Stevens, a
6-1, 280-pound redshirt freshman who would be more a part of the
hunt if it wasn’t for an ankle injury. At the very least, he’ll
be a big part of the rotation with good quickness and decent
Former defensive tackle
Neli A’asa will
be a key part of the right guard rotation, and he could end up
starting if Zane Taylor ends up moving back to center. The 6-2,
288-pound junior is a fantastic athlete who could move to tackle
if needed, but he has to get past a knee injury that plagued him
Pushing Bergstrom at right tackle will be
Viliamu Nau, a 6-6,
300-pound veteran who stepped in from the JUCO ranks and was a
key backup. Now he’ll be a bigger part of the rotation and could
move around where needed.
Watch Out For ...
Schlauderaff. He was a bit overshadowed last season and for some
reason didn’t earn any all-star honors. He’s too good to not get
a bigger spotlight with his dominant run blocking ability.
Strength: The left side. Beadles and Schlauderaff will
always, always come up with the block needed to get the hard
yard for a first down. They might not be the most perfect pass
protectors, but they’re more than fine.
Pass protection. It's good, not great, and it’s been that
way for the last few years. Part of the issue is the offense and
the desire of Brian Johnson to try to make every big play by
waiting an extra half-tick before getting rid of the ball, but
this big group is built to power away for the ground game. It
was mediocre against anyone who could get into the backfield.
Outlook: The Utes won’t have the same ridiculous
luck twice. Part of the reason the team had such a tremendous
season was due to the continuity up front with four of the five
starters going coast-to-coast and the fifth, Robert Conley,
sitting out just one game that he could’ve played if it was
against anyone other than Weber State. Conley is gone, along
with tackle Hensel, but there are good new starters ready to
step in. Beadles, Schlauderaff and center-turned-guard Taylor
form a great nucleus for what should be a rock-solid line.