At safety, Whittingham said sophomore Michael Walker did some really good things in spring ball. He's the projected starter at strong safety. Junior college All-American Keith McGill is expected to be the free safety.
Other competitors for starting spots include senior Greg Bird, as well as freshmen Joseph Bryant and Eric Rowe. Whittingham added that freshman Tyron Morris-Edwards was a pleasant surprise in spring ball. Redshirt freshmen Damian Payne and Terrell Reese also have potential.
Getting the secondary settled, Whittingham emphasized, is "the priority on defense."
4. Who will top the depth chart at running back?
Replacing co-starters Matt Asiata and Eddie Wide as Utah's primary ball carriers is the priority on offense.
The issue wasn't settled in spring ball, as candidates Harvey Langi, John White and Thretton Palamo enter fall camp as "tri-leaders" for the top spot. A spirited competition is expected.
Whittingham said the positive thing was that the coaches came out of spring feeling good about the situation. Each of the players have taken a different path. Langi joins the Utes after a spectacular career at Bingham High School, and White was a record-setting junior college star. Palamo is the wildcard. He's considered one of the best rugby players in the nation.
Although Whittingham declined to establish a timetable to sort things out on the depth chart, he acknowledged there's probably not enough carries for three running backs.
Even so, Whittingham is grateful to have depth at the position.
Another player to watch is redshirt freshman Lucky Radley.
5. Are the Utes equipped to play in a BCS conference?
Moving from the Mountain West Conference to the Pac-12 is a big jump, a Grand Canyon kind of leap.
Whittingham said only time will tell how the Utes are able to handle the challenging schedule week in and week out.
Do they have the depth and talent to do it?
"We feel like we've recruited well the last several years. It's a work in progress. It's ongoing," Whittingham said. "You've got to continue to upgrade everything you are doing."
The bar, he continued, has been raised.
After opening the season Sept. 1 at home against Montana State, the Utes embark upon a schedule featuring non-league games against BYU and Pittsburgh, as well as conference clashes with Arizona, Arizona State, California, Colorado, Oregon State, UCLA, USC, Washington and Washington State.
"I've got to believe it's the most difficult schedule in Utah football history, at least recent history," Whittingham said. "It's a challenge."
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