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2009 CFN Utah Preview
Utah WR David Reed
Utah WR David Reed
Posted Jul 3, 2009

The CFN 2009 Utah Ute Preview, Breakdown, and Analysis.

Utah Utes

Preview 2009

By Pete Fiutak

- 2009 Utah Preview | 2009 Utah Offense
- 2009 Utah Defense |
2009 Utah Depth Chart
- 2008 Utah Preview | 2007 Utah Preview | 2006 Utah Preview

Head coach: Kyle Whittingham
5th year: 37-14
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 25, Def. 28  ST 1
Lettermen Lost: 22
Ten Best Ute Players
OT Zane Beadles, Sr.
2. LB Stevenson Sylvester, Sr.
3. DE Koa Misi, Sr.
4. SS Joe Dale, Sr.
5. LB Mike Wright, Sr.
6. OG Caleb Schlauderaff, Jr.
7. RB Matt Asiata, Sr.
8. FS Robert Johnson, Sr.
9. WR/KR David Reed, Sr.
10. OG Zane Taylor, Jr.

2009 Preview
CFN Prediction:
2009 Record: 0-0

9/3 Utah State
9/12 at San Jose State
9/19 at Oregon
9/26 Louisville
10/10 at Colorado State
10/17 at UNLV
10/24 Air Force
10/31 Wyoming
11/7 New Mexico
11/14 at TCU
11/21 San Diego State
11/28 at BYU

2008 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2008 Record: 13-0

8/30 at Michigan W 25-23
9/6 UNLV W 42-21
9/13 at Utah State W 58-10
9/20 at Air Force W 30-23
9/27 Weber State W 37-21
10/2 Oregon State W 31-28
10/11 at Wyoming W 40-7
10/18 Colorado State W 49-16

11/1 at New Mexico W 13-10
11/6 TCU W 13-10
11/15 at San Diego St W 63-14
11/22 BYU W 48-24
Sugar Bowl
1/2 Alabama W 31-17

Yes, Utah went 13-0 and throttled Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. No, it wasn’t the best team in the country even with the great season.

Yes, few will expect another BCS season considering 11 starters and star kicker/punter Louie Sakoda are gone. No, there won’t be the major slip some will predict.

It took all the veteran talent, guile, and experience of last year’s team (along with some chokes from the opposing kicker) to pull out an epic classic over TCU, and there were five other games decided by a touchdown or less that a younger team might have lost. However, the talent level is so high and the athleticism so strong that there’s a chance this Ute team could actually be better.

The defensive line loses pass rushing terror Paul Kruger, but Koa Misi and Derrick Shelby are just two of the ends good enough to pick up the slack. The safety tandem of Joe Dale and Robert Johnson might be the best in the Mountain West, and the offensive line, led by tackle Zane Beadles and guard Caleb Schlauderaff, will be fantastic.

Most of the major holes will be quickly filled. Losing two first-team All-Mountain West corners in Brice McCain and Sean Smith stinks, but the Ute secondary has loads of sub-4.4 speedsters ready to fill in. The receiving corps loses the top three targets from last year, but it could be even better with David Reed about to blow up and become a star and former JUCO transfer Aiona Key one of the greatest wide receivers to ever play for the Utes. There could even be a slight upgrade in certain skills at wide receiver. Brian Johnson will be sorely missed, but Corbin Louks will bring more speed and a rushing threat to the position, and JUCO transfer Terrance Cain is a strong passer.

After last year, will the Utes finally start to get their respect? They have as many good athletes and playmakers as most of the BCSers and they have a solid enough schedule with Oregon and Louisville to deal with. Will the Utes go 12-0 and get a shot to play for the national title? No, but if they can beat the Ducks in Eugene and win at TCU and BYU, they’ll deserve the chance, and that’s all they’re asking for.

What to watch for on offense: More running out of the quarterbacks. If it’s Terrance Cain under center it’ll be another year of Brian Johnson-like passing efficiency. However, Corbin Louks will likely get the first shot, even if there’s a rotation, and he’ll come up with at least 500 rushing yards and add a dimension to the attack that was missing after Johnson’s knee injuries.

What to watch for on defense: The corners. Everything else is in place for the Utes to boast the Mountain West’s best defense, or at least be in the race with TCU. The line is fantastic, the linebackers are terrific, and the safeties are all-stars. But there will be an early concern that the new corners might struggle a bit early on, even though they’re experienced and bring blinding speed to the table. R.J. Stanford, Brandon Burton, Kamaron Yancy and Justin Jones can move. Now they have to show they can cover. If they’re good, the defense will be a brick wall.

The team will be far better if … the quarterback play is solid. Johnson wasn’t just a good stat-sheet filler and he wasn’t just great in the clutch; he was a leader who made things happen. He was a calm, steady performer who managed to keep the chains moving and came up with the big play when needed. Louks and Cain will be good, but Utah won’t win the Mountain West again unless they’re great.

The Schedule: It’ll be
a far, far more difficult run than last year. The in-state battle with Utah State and the trip to San Jose State will be nice ways to ease in to the season, and then comes the fun. The date with the Spartans kicks off a run of four road games in five, with a key week off in the middle and a game against Louisville. A trip to Oregon will show if the Utes really were able to reload, while Colorado State will be a tougher-than-it-looks Mountain West opener. There's a reward for the tough start with four home games in five late in the year. However, the showdowns with BYU and TCU are on the road.

Best Offensive Player: Senior OT Zane Beadles. The 6-4, 305-pound senior is a blaster of a run blocker and is just good enough in pass protection to get by. He could’ve left early for the NFL and would’ve been a top 100 pick, and now he’ll be the star of a good, big line that should be among the best in the Mountain West. With Beadles combining with guard Caleb Schlauderaff, the left side of the line should be devastating.

Best Defensive Player: Senior LB Stevenson Sylvester. A first-team All-Mountain West performer who was all over the field last season, he wasn’t much of a college football household name. And then came the Sugar Bowl, and here comes the attention. Sylvester wasn’t used much as a pass rusher from the outside linebacking spot too much last season, and then he destroyed Alabama with three sacks showing speed that an SEC team should’ve been used to handling.

Key player to a successful season: Senior PK Ben Vroman. Yes, Corbin Louks is the team’s key player, but considering how many close calls there were last season, Vroman needs to be great. Louie Sakoda nailed 22-of-24 field goals, and while Vroman should show off the same leg, if not a deeper one, he needs to be consistent. Four games were decided by three points or fewer, and there will be more tight battles this year.

The season will be a success if ... the Utes win the Mountain West title again. With road games at Oregon, BYU and TCU (and don’t dismiss the Colorado State game), it’ll be too tough to go unbeaten. But that doesn’t mean the team can’t win another conference title if everything comes together by the end of the season. After seeing the fun of the Sugar Bowl, it’ll be hard to shoot for anything less.

Key game: Nov. 14 at TCU. Yes, the season-ender at BYU is the game of the year, but if the Utes can come away from Fort Worth with a win, then the regular season finale will take on a whole other meaning. After last year’s classic, the Horned Frogs will be looking for revenge, and if nothing else, this should be another war.

2008 Fun Stats: 
- First quarter scoring: Utah 117 – Opponents 54
- Third down conversions: Utah 82-of-181 (45%) – Opponents 54-of-178 (30%)
- Interceptions: Utah 19 – Opponents 9

- 2009 Utah Preview | 2009 Utah Offense
- 2009 Utah Defense |
2009 Utah Depth Chart
- 2008 Utah Preview | 2007 Utah Preview | 2006 Utah Preview