Unfortunately the Utes will have several major obstacles coming into the 2009-10 season. The first is they took a major blow during the offseason from players declaring for the NFL Draft as well as graduating seniors. The team lost Paul Kruger, Sean Smith, Brice McCain, and Freddie Brown to the pro’s meaning head coach Kyle Whittingham will have his hands full trying to find suitable replacements.
The offense was hit the hardest with all of the departures. The loss of quarterback Brian Johnson and wide outs Freddie Brown and Bradon Godfrey will put a big dent in the electrifying passing game which was the key to their success just a season ago. The group connected for a combined 1456 yards and 11 TDs. The loss of Johnson sets up a QB competition between Corbin Louks, Terrance Cain and Jordan Wynn, all of whom Whittingham has the outmost confidence are capable of leading the team to its second perfect season in a row. Another problem the offense will face is the loss of three of their linemen. This could pose as a major setback because without sufficient protection it will be extraordinarily difficult for the Utes to establish a run game or give ample time for their new quarterback to find his open target downfield.
The defensive side will undoubtedly be able to cope with the losses of key players such as Kruger, McCain, and Smith. Defense has be the staple point during Whittingham’s time in Salt Lake City. He has established one of the most respected defensive programs in the nation, which allows him to have the luxury of swapping in a new defender to take over instead of rebuilding the entire team. The strength in the defense for the 2009-10 looks to be the linebacker core that showcases Stevenson Sylvester who led the team with 4 sacks and finished second with 73 total tackles.
Utah’s defense is a powerhouse and there is no argument about that. However the primary reason for the team’s great success last season was because the offensive production finally reached an equilibrium point with that of the defense. This is going to be difficult to repeat in the upcoming season but it is very feasible. In order to do so they will have to beat some tough out-of-conference teams such as Oregon and Louisville as well as an even tougher in-conference schedule in which they play TCU and BYU, both of whom are ranked in the preseason top 25.
Whittingham’s standpoint on the upcoming season is to stay positive and use last year’s finish of No. 2 in the nation to help motivate his team. Although another undefeated season is unlikely, it would not surprise me at all if the team will be able to overcome the adversity and do so.
Predicted Record: 9-3