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2009 Utah Preview - Offense
Utah RB Matt Asiata
Utah RB Matt Asiata
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jul 3, 2009


CollegeFootballNews.com 2009 Preview - Utah Ute Offense

  

Utah Utes

Preview 2009
- Offense

- 2009 Utah Preview | 2009 Utah Offense
- 2009 Utah Defense |
2009 Utah Depth Chart
- 2008 Utah Preview | 2007 Utah Preview | 2006 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
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Returning Leaders
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 Corbin Louks
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 Talent
Weakness of the offense: Sure-Thing Quarterback, Wide Receiver Experience

Quarterbacks

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 40 speed.

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.

True freshman 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 positive.
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 fly.
Rating: 6.5

Running Backs


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.

Projected Top Reserves: Junior 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 year.

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 load.
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 bunch.
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.
Outlook: 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. 
Rating: 7

Receivers


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.

5-7, 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.

Redshirt freshman 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.

6-6, 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 safety valve.

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.

Senior 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.

Senior 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.

5-11, 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 factor.

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, too.
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.
Outlook: 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.
Rating: 7.5

Offensive Linemen

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.

Working 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 strength.

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 this offseason.

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.
Weakness
:
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.
Rating: 7

     









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