The Great Debate: What is the future of Ute football? (Kudiya)

What’s a collapse? Is the U football team going to go undefeated? Probably not, but considering the amount of talent still left on the team, coupled with the mediocre teams in the conference, winning another title is not farfetched.

Alex Smith, Paris Warren, Steve Savoy, Sione Pouha, Marty Johnson, Morgan Scalley, Chris Kemoeatu and Corey Dodds are gone. I am probably missing a few names here, but needless to say, the Utes are losing lots of talent. Did I forget Urban Meyer?

So how are they going to make up for it? It’s obvious they are going to take a step back.

Kyle Whittingham is now the coach and he hired Andy Ludwig as offensive coordinator. Whittingham claims the Utes will keep the same offense with a few tweaks. If he lives up to that claim, the Utes should have a solid gameplans on offense and Ludwig has coached both good quarterbacks and good offenses before.

The Utes will not be too conservative on offense as they were before Meyer. It would be bad publicity and a stupid move. With the departure of Meyer, Whittingham wants to keep the same energy moving through the program. Changing the offensive pace will be counterproductive.

The players won’t be as bad as many people think.

Thank god the Utes blew out just about every team they faced so Brian Johnson could get a good chunk of playing time. Johnson didn’t look even close to as good as Smith was this year, but who expected him to?

In his first year, Smith was terrible in limited time and although I don’t think Johnson will ever be as good as Smith, I think he can be a very good quarterback at the U. He is mobile and he played well, especially when Meyer let him play with good receivers such as John Madsen.

There should be a huge leap in his understanding of the offense and also just an increase in his talents from his freshman to sophomore year. Good thing he is surrounded by solid players.

Quinton Ganther is back at running back and he is quick and strong and will excel as the feature back in the offense. Mike Liti will also be back, and if Darryl Poston can recover from his knee injury, who knows how good he could be.

Two years ago, Meyer came to the U and said that the group of receivers he had were not Division I quality. Look how they turned out (and it isn’t as if the team does not have good receivers, already.)

Madsen keeps improving and will be back as one of the main targets. Travis LaTendresse may get an extra year if he gets approved for a medical redshirt. The upcoming sophomore receivers can be very good. If Thomas Huff decides to get motivated and work his butt off, he has the talent to be better than both of the star receivers the team had this year.

Derrek Richards is the fastest player on the team and will have chance to get stronger and will get much more playing time next season.

Although much of the questions are on the offensive side of the ball, I believe the defense will be the reason the Utes will be just fine next season.

While the offense will go through obvious struggles and growing pains, the defense will continue to be what it has been since Kyle Whittingham has been here. Even with the loss of Scalley, the Utes could have Justin Walker come in and be an all-conference player. Walker is the guy who always returns kicks even, if they land in the back of the end zone, and he has recently been switched from receiver to safety.

The defense is the reason that the Utes will be in every single game they play this season. With Steve Fifita anchoring the line and Spencer Toone coming back at linebacker, the front seven will be OK. Ryan Smith and Eric Weddle will be back and the Utes should be good in the secondary.

The main reason why the Utes will not collapse is their schedule. Who is that great in the conference?

BYU? Air Force?

Texas Christian is the new team in the conference and the toughest game on the schedule will be at TCU or maybe at North Carolina.

Since TCU was added, the schedule will get a little funky and Air Force will come to Rice-Eccles for the second year in a row. The Utes will be at Colorado State and at BYU, but neither of those teams will figure to be very good.

Please tell me five games on the schedule the Utes will lose. With a very good defense and an offense that has a lot of potential, they have a good chance to win the conference title. If they can do that, then the team can pick up where they left off after next season.

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