Utah Football to Open 2020 Season Hosting Arizona


University of Utah sophomore defensive end Maxs Tupai (92) tackled University of Arizona redshirt sophomore running back J.J. Taylor (21) in an NCAA Football game vs. the University of Arizona at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, UT on Friday October 12, 2018.(Photo by Curtis Lin | Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Sammy Mora , Sports Editor


After months of watching and waiting, Utah football is finally back. The Utes are set to host Arizona in what is the first of three home games in this abbreviated season. Utah will look to defend their back-to-back south champions title heading into this campaign


Scouting the Utes: 

Ranking: N/A
Record: (0-0, 0-0 Pac-12) 
Last Game: L vs Texas 10-38 

The Utes are coming off of one of the most successful seasons in school history. But with a successful team, there is bound to be departures. Nine of Utah’s 11 defensive starters from last season either graduated or took their talent to the next level. While nine of the 11 projected starters on the two-deep that was released earlier this week have game experience only five (Devin Lloyd, Maxs Tupai, Mika Tafua, Hauati Pututau and Nephi Sewell) have been starters before. JT Broughton, Viane Moala, Vonte Davis and Malone Mataele have all seen time on the field but have never started before. The other two projected starters—Clark Phillips and Nate Ritche are true freshmen who will be starting for the Utes on Saturday. 

On the flip side, head coach Kyle Whittingham is keeping to his promise about not naming a starting quarterback for the team. Drew Lisk, Cam Rising and Jake Bentley have all been fighting for the starting job, but fans will have to wait until Saturday to see who will be the guy under center. Utah also did not name a starting running back, instead listing Devin Brumfield and Jordan Wilmore as co-starters. Same goes for two positions on the offensive line. Braeden Daniels and Keaton Bills are listed as co-starters at left guard while Simi Moala and Jaren Kump are both listed at the right tackle position. 


Hear it from Coach: 

“Game week is finally here, and that is a relief for a lot of our guys in a lot of ways. It has been a lot of months without an opponent, just hitting each other, and we are tired of that. It is exciting that the week is here. We definitely need this week of practice and we are going to maximize the time that we have. The guys are looking forward to it and they are eager to get going. It is going to be a different game-day atmosphere obviously with the circumstances that are involved and no fans, so it is all continuing to be uncharted territory. That is the situation we are in, so we just move forward and hopefully we will play well on Saturday,” Whittingham said at his weekly presser. 


Scouting the Wildcats: 

Ranking: N/A
Record: (0-0, 0-0 Pac-12) 
Last Game: L vs Arizona State 14-24

The Wildcats are coming into this season with not only a somewhat new quarterback but also a new defensive coordinator. Paul Rhoads will be leading the Wildcats defense this season. After a tumultuous offseason filled with transfers from some of their star players, the Arizona defense, just like Utah, will have some key positions that will need to be filled. 

Under sophomore QB Grant Gunnell the Arizona offense looks to grow from last season. In the eight games he appeared in last season Gunnell was pretty accurate, completing 65 percent of his passes for 1,239 yards with nine touchdowns and one interception. 


Mascot Matchup: 

Swoop vs Wilbur and Wilma Wildcat. This is a two versus one scenario so most people would go with the Wildcats on this one but I am going with Swoop. He is a Red-Tailed Hawk, and hawks have claws. As my lovely Assistant Sports Editor Cole Bagley mentioned on Ute Dash on Sunday, Swoop could easily claw their eyes out. Not to mention Swoop could take them into his mouth and drop them from a great height. 

Advantage Swoop. 


How to watch: 

Kick-off is set for 1:30 p.m. MST with the game being televised on ESPN2. Clay Matvick and Rocky Boiman will be on the TV call. Fans can also listen to the game on the Home of the Utes ESPN700 with Bill Riley and Scott Mitchell.


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