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View from the Booth: A view from the booth: Four key questions for spring football

Published: Monday, March 19 2012 2:53 p.m. MDT

Utah Utes running back Harvey Langi (21)as the University of Utah defeats UCLA 31-6 in PAC 12 football Saturday, Nov. 12, 2011 in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Tom Smart, Deseret News

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Spring Football begins today for the University of Utah, a much anticipated time for Utah fans coming off a long winter of basketball.

Kyle Whittingham's program underwent some major coaching changes coming off their first season in the Pac-12, and it will be interesting to see how those changes play themselves out on the field this spring, summer and most importantly in the fall.

Here are some key questions heading into the spring:

1. What will the Utah offense look like?

One of the major changes that I mentioned above was the elevation of quarterbacks coach Brian Johnson to offensive coordinator. It was less than four years ago that Johnson was participating in spring football as a player, now he's running the offense from the sidelines.

Johnson will have no shortage of bodies at his old position with Jordan Wynn, Travis Wilson, Chase Hansen and Jon Hays all available.

Only time will tell on what Johnson's offense will look like; my guess is that there won't be a complete overhaul from last year's system. There's been a ton of speculation of the offense returning to the "spread" that Johnson ran when he played under former offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig. The only problem with that is that Wynn isn't well suited for that type of offense. I'm guessing that we see some subtle tweaks, with a few more spread tendencies, but not a complete overhaul.

2. Where does Harvey Langi fit into the offense?

A year ago freshman running back Harvey Langi came into the Utah football program with expectations of challenging for a starting spot and major carries. That never materialized last year, because of a combination of Langi's lack of readiness for Division I football and the emergence of John White. White returns and Utah added another big-time J.C. back in Kelvin York, who's expected to contribute immediately.

So where does that leave Langi? Will he be ready to challenge for carries in the spring and fall?

There's no question he's an outstanding athlete, but will that translate at running back or will he join the ranks of other Utes that have moved to the defensive side of the football?

3. Who replaces Tony Bergstrom and John Cullen at tackle?

Replacing all-conference-caliber performers is never an easy thing, but this season it might be the most important two spots on the roster. Bergstrom and Cullen anchored a line that at times a year ago was overmatched in the Pac-12, which is why Kyle Whittingham and his staff made the offensive line their top priority in recruiting.

A quick look at the spring two-deep lists Daniel Nielson at right tackle and Percy Taumoelau at left tackle. I wouldn't expect this question to be answered this spring. The real competition will come this summer with the arrivals of J.C. transfers Carlos Lozano, Jeremiah Poutasi, Marc Pouvave and Junior Salt.

My guess is that two of these four will likely push for starting time at the offensive tackle spots.

4. Who is Jordan Wynn's back up?

I know there are many out there that want to think that either Travis Wilson or Chase Hansen will get a shot at the starting quarterback job this season. Let's dispel that myth right now. Jordan Wynn will be Utah's starting QB if he remains healthy through spring and fall camps.

The question is, which one of the incoming freshmen will earn the role of No. 2 on the depth chart?

In talking with Johnson, he tells me that both Wilson and Hansen are outstanding athletes who have extremely high football IQs to go with their athleticism. So what it will come down to is who picks up Johnson's offensive system and philosophy the quickest.

Odds and ends

A couple of position switches from last fall: Westlee Tonga moves from tight end to defensive end, Thretton Palamo moves from running back to defensive end and Keith McGill from safety to corner. Practice begins Tuesday and concludes April 21 with the annual spring football game.

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