The Utah Utes report Wednesday and officially hit the field for fall camp Thursday. Here are Utah’s Top Five storylines heading in to their second season as a member of the Pac-12:
1. Jordan Wynn’s health/arm strength: Anyone can see that when Wynn got injured (again) last season the Utes offense went from adequate to anemic. If it wasn’t for John White’s run game this team wouldn’t have even been in the position to win the Pac-12 South. While Kyle Whittingham told the media at Pac-12 Football Media Day that the quarterback position was wide open between Wynn and freshmen Travis Wilson and Chase Hansen offensive coordinator Brian Johnson told us (Kyle Gunther and Kevin Graham) on 1320 KFAN that Wynn is the man. It would also help if his arm strength is a tad better than a year ago when you could sit down and have a picnic by the time the ball came down to a receiver.
2. Brian Johnson takes the reigns of the offense: Johnson says he doesn’t think it’s a big deal that he is the youngest OC in college football history (maybe slightly exaggerating) but all eyes will be on the former Ute QB as he officially enters his first camp as the leader of this unit. If any 25-year old can be successful it would be Johnson considering his intelligence and cool under pressure mentality. At the same time there still will be growing pains as would be with anyone that takes over a new position for the first time. The key is how quickly he adapts and gets comfortable.
3. Brian Blechen’s black cloud: Obviously this is a brand new storyline after the safety was suspended Monday for the first three games for reportedly failing multiple drug tests. Obviously as the number one playmaker on defense it will hurt this unit on the field as backup Quade Chappuis is solid but nowhere near the player of Blechen. The other question is how will this impact team morale. I’m sure Blechen will have some apologizing to do to his fellow teammates.
4. Linebackers step up: The biggest question mark on defense is the youth in the linebacking corp. Outside of Junior Trevor Reilly the rest of the backers are sophomores or freshman. Lots of talent and speed there but definitely lack overall experience.
5. Offensive Tackles: With Tony Bergstrom and John Cullen both gone Percy Taumoelau and Daniel Nielson or others must step up and take their place. With an injury prone quarterback in Wynn the Utes cannot afford any kind of issues at these key positions.