2022 Utah Utes Preview

by Matt Fargo

Utah Utes

2021-22 Season Record 10-4 (8-1 Pac 12 South) - 7-7-0 ATS - 9-5-0 O/U

Returning Starters

Offense - 8
Defense - 6

Overview

Utah was always an average team in the WAC and the early stages in the MWC as it would put together some nice winning seasons and make it to a lower-tiered bowl game with nothing more than a final ranking of No. 10 in 1994 to show for it. Then the program hired Urban Meyer in 2003 and everything changed. He went 22-2 in two seasons including a 12-0 record and a Fiesta Bowl win in 2004 which resulted in a final ranking of No. 4. He took that and ran with it and ever since, current head coach Kyle Whittingham has not let the program slip at all as he has produced winning records in 15 of his 17 seasons and he could have one of his best teams yet. They will build off of their Rose Bowl trip last season and come into 2022 with a preseason ranking of No. 7, the highest in program history. 14 starters return with an above average returning production ranking which could turn into something special.

Offense

Utah always seem to be really big on both sides of the line of scrimmage and the offensive line paved the way last season as the Utes finished No. 15 in rushing offense, averaging 216.3 ypg while the pass protection was outstanding as they allowed only 13 sacks which was No. 4 in the country. Three starters are back and the two positions that need to be filled are not a problem with the size and depth. Quarterback Cameron Rising took control of the offense and passed for 2,493 yards with 20 touchdowns and just five interceptions. He did not have to do a lot with the great running game but he is capable. His favorite target tight end Brant Kuithe is back after 611 yards receiving and six touchdowns last season and the wide receiver options are plentiful. Running back Tavion Thomas returns after a team high 1,108 yards and 21 touchdowns so this offense is loaded all over.

Defense

The Utes seem to always have a hard-nosed defense and that was the case last season as they were No. 13 overall and No. 24 in scoring and will be just as potent this season. They were great against the run and just as good against the pass thanks to a ton of pressure unloaded on the opposing quarterbacks as they finished with 42 sacks which was tied for tenth most in the country. The defense took a hit with the two top tacklers gone and both from the linebacker position and it equates to 200 tackles, seven sacks and four interceptions having to be replaced. Mohamoud Diabate comes in from Florida to try and shoulder some of that load. The defensive line lost sack leader Mika Tafua but the tackle positions are set and Van Fillinger will star at one of the end spots. The secondary has to replace two starters but safety Cole Bishop and corner Clark Phillips are All Pac 12 players.

2022 Season Outlook

There has never been this much buzz coming into a season in Salt Lake City. They expected a top ten preseason ranking and got it and now they have to run with it and not let all of the expectations get in their way mentally. Go play Utah football and they will be fine. It will not be easy as the Utes have to navigate through a pretty serious schedule. They open the season at Florida where they are a slight favorite and that game could define the entire season. They welcome Southern Utah before the final nonconference game at home against Fresno St. Five of the nine Pac 12 games are on the road with two of those including UCLA and Oregon and the home portion is manageable with the big one being USC to start the second half. The O/U win total is set at 9 which seems right where it should be with Florida, Oregon and USC being the swing games. It will be fun. 

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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