Utah Staff Picks and Predictions

The InsideTheUtes staff give their Utah predictions for the season...

Utah Record
Mauss- 9-3 (7-2) + loss to Oregon in Pac 12 title game
Smith- 8-4 (6-3)
Swinney- 8-4 (6-3) + loss to Oregon in Pac 12 title game

Utah Bowl Game
Mauss- Sun Bowl
Smith- Las Vegas Bowl
Swinney- Sun Bowl

Offensive MVP
Mauss- QB Jordan Wynn- barring injury it is hard to see anyone else being the offensive MVP.
Smith- QB Jordan Wynn- Though his health will be in question all season, I expect a strong year from the Junior QB. He may not be the "best" player on offense, but he certainly will be the most valuable.
Swinney- WR Devonte Christopher- Wynn is the most valuable to the team's success, but I'll go with Christopher. Get ready for 60 catches and close to 1,000 yards for the NFL talent.

Defensive MVP
Mauus- LB Chaz Walker- Walker will put up monster stats with the defensive line opening things up for him and the rest of the linebackers. Expect another 100-plus tackle season.
Smith- LB Chaz Walker- There may be better/more talented players on Utah's defense, but Walker will be the primary beneficiary of one of the best defensive lines in the conference. He'll have an outstanding season, and should send thank you cards to all of the big guys up front.
Swinney- DT Star Lotulelei- He won't have the numbers of some of the other players, but Lotulelei will be what makes the Utah defense go. He's a beast of a human being and unblockable at times. No one will run successfully up the middle on the Utes in 2011 because of Star.

Breakout Player
Mauss- RB John White- White earned the starting job this fall and with his speed and elusive running style he has the chance to be a special player.
Smith- DT Star Lotulelei- Star may not be a breakout player to Utah fans who know him, but most national media members don't even have him in their top 3 all conference preseason teams. Star will become a star this season, and will be known by Pac 12 & national media.
Swinney- DE Joe Kruger- There's no one on the team with more upside, especially as an NFL prospect than Joe Kruger. He's dominated in practice and has all the tools to be a dominant defensive end.

This season will be a success if...
Mauss-... Utah can get to eight wins and at least be in the Sun Bowl. A decent amount of people think Utah will walk right into the Pac-12 and make it to the title game since USC ineligible, but the reality is that the schedule will be much more difficult with very few, if any, guaranteed games. The Utes should be able to be competitive in every league game and will not get blown out, but depth is an issue for Utah compared to the other Pac-12 schools and that is where Utah most likely will falter and lose games. Eight wins probably puts Utah behind Arizona State, USC and possibly Arizona in the South division, and that is not a bad spot to finish in Utah's first year in the Pac-12.
Smith-... Utah can make it to the Maaco Las Vegas Bowl or better. Early on in the season, fans and media will love to compare Utah's Pac-12 journey to BYU's Independence journey. By the end of the season, that will go away, and Utah will be fighting to survive in a brutal conference. When the season's over, BYU will be headed to the Armed Forces Bowl, and Utah should be headed to at least the Maaco Las Vegas Bowl to play the Mountain West Champions, or a runner-up if Boise makes it to a BCS game. The season may be tough, but at the end of it all, Utah could end up 5th in the conference, and be headed to the same bowl game they would have been headed to if they won the Mountain West conference...or they could be headed to an even better bowl game.
Swinney-... they stay consistent from week to week and finish up in the upper half of the Pac 12 South. That may not sound too lofty with the division being down and USC on probation, but baby steps are all we can ask for in their first season in the conference. The talent is there and the coaching is there to win the south easily, but with the depth concerns, and two tough out of conferences games that are going to take their physical toll along with the beating that the Pac 12 will provide, bumps, bruises, and injuries are going to cost the Utes a game or two. If they can stay consistent and keep it close, even in the games they lose, the respect will come and the program will grow.

Ute Zone Top Stories