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Utah Utes football: Team won 10 games for 6th time, but season marred by poor finish

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 4 2011 11:58 p.m. MST

Utah coach Kyle Whittingham feels the Utes' season should be looked at as a whole, and in that respect, it was a successful year with 10-3 record.

Ravell Call, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Lost in the shadow of lopsided losses to TCU (47-7), Notre Dame (28-3) and Boise State (26-3), was the fact that the Utah Utes won 10 games for just the sixth time in team history.

It wasn't a Bo Derek-type of 10, but a double-digit finish nonetheless.

"In that respect it was a very successful season," said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham. "We didn't get a league championship, which has been our first and foremost goal. But we did accomplish a lot of good things."

Following an 8-0 start, the Utes rose to No. 5 in the Bowl Championship Series standings.

That, however, isn't what Whittingham looks back upon.

"I've always believed you judge the season as a whole. Whether you win your first eight ballgames, your last eight ballgames, your middle eight, or whatever the case may be," Whittingham said. "You judge the season in its entirety. And when you do that, I think, it was very successful."

OFFENSE

Things went from feast to famine. After averaging 45.25 points through the first eight games of the season, the Utes scored just 68 points over their final five outings.

"We obviously ran into a few really good defenses during that stretch of time," Whittingham said. "But that was disappointing not to finish off better offensively."

The lack of productivity included two games without touchdowns and one outing with just one trip across the goal line.

All came after starting quarterback Jordan Wynn injured his shoulder in a win over Iowa State. The sophomore eventually needed surgery, but not until getting dinged up in the BYU game at the end of the season.

A full recovery is expected. Wynn, however, will miss all of spring ball ?— leaving the Utes a bit thin at the position.

Utah's top offensive priority for 2011, though, is at running back, where seniors Eddie Wide and Matt Asiata have completed their eligibility and underclassman Sausan Shakerin is finished because of multiple concussions.

"That position really took a hit," Whittingham said while noting the urgency to recruit some running backs.

Junior college star John White (Harbor College, Calif.) headlines the cast of newcomers expected to sign with Utah.

Other holes on Utah's offense include the graduation losses of center Zane Taylor, left guard Caleb Schlauderaff, plus wide receivers Jereme Brooks and Shaky Smithson.

DEFENSE

Whittingham was pleased with how Utah's defense performed in 2010. The Utes led the MWC in sacks and takeaways. They also drew praise from Whittingham for playing "very good" run defense.

"They were consistent throughout the season," he said. "I thought they played hard the entire year."

Top playmakers included defensive end Christian Cox, defensive tackle Sealver Siliga, linebackers Chaz Walker and Matt Martinez, cornerbacks Brandon Burton and Lamar Chapman, as well as Freshman All-America safety Brian Blechen.

Cox, Chapman, safety Justin Taplin-Ross, defensive end Junior Tui'one and linebacker Chad Manis are the seniors who made starts in 2010. They'll be missed as the Utes move forward.

Blechen may move over to linebacker, filling Manis' spot and solidifying the middle of the defense.

The big voids, thus, will likely be in the secondary — especially with Burton opting to turn pro a year early. That leaves the Utes in search of two new starting cornerbacks, plus a pair of starters at safety if Blechen, indeed, switches positions.

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