Fr* (Redshirt Freshman)
Jordan Wynn (So), Terrance Cain (Sr), Griff Robles (So)
The Utes are set at quarterback, both in the present and the future with true sophomore Jordan Wynn, returning as the starter. Wynn took over the starting reigns from Terrance Cain in the second half of their week 8 game last year against Wyoming and never looked back, leading the Utes to a come-from-behind victory over the Cowboys. He finished the year 3-2 as a starter with his only losses coming on the road to top 20 teams, BYU and TCU. Wynn capped the season with an impressive display in the Poinsettia Bowl against Cal finishing 26-36 for 388 yards and 3 touchdowns in garnering game MVP honors in the Utes' 37-27 victory.
Cain, last year's starter at the beginning of the season, was more than serviceable during his time as the starter leading the Utes to a 6-1 record. But poor decisions and the propensity to take sacks at inopportune times found him a seat on the bench. A tremendous athlete with great running ability, Cain will likely be used in Wildcat formations and other running friendly situations.
Sophomore Griff Robles had a strong spring game, showing he is capable of taking over in emergency situations.
Matt Asiata (Sr) and/or Eddie Wide (Sr), Sausan Shakerin (So)
Things looked bleak last year when starting running back Matt Asiata went down with a torn ACL in the fourth game of the season. It may have ended up being a blessing in disguise as Utah enters the season with one of the top running back duos in the country. Eddie Wide returns after a first team all Mountain West season that saw him rush for over 1,100 yards and 12 touchdowns while Asiata brings over 1,000 career yards to the table.
Asiata was granted an extra year of eligibility by the NCAA in the offseason, and his surgically repaired ACL is close to full strength. The battle to see who emerges from fall camp as the starter will be the most closely watched on the team. Sophomore Sausan Shakerin adds depth and a power running game to Wide's speed and shiftiness and Asiata's power and versatility.
Wide Receiver and Tight End
WR 1- Jereme Brooks (Sr), Fatu Moala (Fr*), Devonte Christopher (So)
WR 2- Shaky Smithson (Sr), Griffin McNabb (Fr)
WR 3- Luke Matthews (So), Sean Fitzgerald (Fr*), Martavious Lee (Jr)
TE- Kendrick Moeai (So), Brad Clifford (Sr), Westlee Tonga (Fr)
Replacing three productive receivers, including all conference David Reed, won't be a walk in the park, but having a guy like Jereme Brooks helps. Brooks leads all returning players with 56 catches for 696 yards and 7 touchdowns and will be the go to guy for Wynn.
Outside of Brooks, the receiving corp is young and mostly inexperienced. Walk-on Griffin McNabb came out of nowhere and surprised everyone with a great performance in the spring game, finishing as the number 1 guy at the slot Z coming out of spring ball in place of the injured Shaky Smithson. The freshman had 5 catches for 100 yards and a touchdown in the spring game will surely get a shot to make the two deep come fall.
Previously mentioned senior Smithson bounced around between wide receiver and running back last season as the coaches tried to find a way to get him on the field. The sure handed former JC transfer missed spring ball recovering from injury, but will likely be the starter at the beginning of fall camp.
Sophomore Luke Matthews is a big, strong, fast receiver who is also a dangerous return man. Coaches were happy with his offseason improvement and expect Matthews to be a big part of the passing game.
DeVonte Christopher started spring camp with the first team, but ended it out of the two deep. A tremendous athlete, he lacks consistency which hurts his playing time. Dropping Christopher from the rotation might be the kick in the butt he needs to step up his game and get back in favor with the coaching staff.
JC transfer Martavious Lee is also expected to push for a spot in the two deep along with Fatu Moala, and Sean Fitzgerald.
The depth of the receivers is overwhelming with the number of the young talented receivers. After fall camp, I would expect a transfer or two from players that are buried on the depth chart.
Expect the tight ends to play a bigger role this season than in years past with Kendrick Moeai and Brad Clifford leading the way. Moeai caught two touchdown passes in the bowl victory over Cal and could be the Utes' biggest tight end receiving threat since Ben Moa. Returning missionary Westlee Tonga could see the field as well.
LT- John Cullen (Jr), Percy Taumoelau (Fr*)
LG- Caleb Schlauderoff (Sr), Walter Watts (Sr)
C- Zane Taylor (Sr), Vincent Jones (FR*)
RG- Tevita Stevens (So), Sam Brenner (So)
RT- Tony Bergstrom (Jr), Kapua Sai (Fr*)
Returning starters Tony Bergstrom, Caleb Schlauderoff, Tevita Stevens, and Zane Taylor will anchor what will end up being one of the better lines in the conference, but the loss of all-conference left tackle and NFL second round pick Zane Beadles is going to sting as the Utes don't have a definitive starter ready to step in and take his place.
Taylor has the versatility to slide out from the center spot to guard, but expect him to stay put while the coaches try to find that fifth and final piece to the offensive line puzzle.
Schlauderoff, a three year starter at left guard, spent much of the spring at the left tackle spot, but is expected to slide back outside in the fall due when highly touted JUCO recruit, John Cullen arrives.
Redshirt freshman Percy Tuamoelau and sophomore Sam Brenner will also get a shot at the starting spot. Brenner's future may be at the guard, so he'll get a look there as well. When it is all said and done, expect Cullen to have the inside track to start.
Walter Watts, who split time at right guard last season with Stevens, provides depth and experience at both guard spots. Look for Kapua Sai, and JC transfer Ron Tongaonevai to get into the mix as well in trying to nail down a spot in the two-deep.
Developing depth behind center Zane Taylor will be a priority with redshirt freshman Vyncent Jones currently with the second team.
Returning a multitude starters on offense is huge for a team that lost a lot on the defensive side of the ball. Coach Kyle Whittingham may need to rely on his offense to lead the team through the first few games while the defense gets its feet wet with their plethora of new starters. The keys to the season offensively are going to be the development of Jordan Wynn and finding that second reliable receiver alongside Jereme Brooks.
Most college quarterbacks make their biggest jump in improvement between their freshman and sophomore years. If Wynn makes the anticipated improvements, and plays anywhere near the way he did in the Poinsettia Bowl against Cal, he'll garner all-conference consideration and the team could be scary good. A lot of that improvement may depend on finding those go to receivers. With so much youth and depth at that spot, someone is destined to step up and turn in a 40+ catch season to go along with the 60+ that Brooks should haul in.
This offense may end up being the best in the conference by the end of the season. Considering what TCU brings back this year, that's saying a lot.
2010 Utah Depth Chart Analysis- Offense
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