Utah football: Utah coach Kyle Whittingham acknowledges 2013 was a frustrating year for Utes

Published: Monday, Dec. 9 2013 6:00 p.m. MST

SPECIAL TEAMS: In Whittingham’s evaluation, Utah's special teams were up and down. Hackett led the Pac-12 in punting and freshman kicker Phillips was an impressive 17 of 20 on field goals and a perfect 41 of 41 on PATs. Snapper Chase Dominguez also had a strong first season of college ball.

Sophomore punt returner Geoff Norwood was solid as well.

It was Utah’s kickoffs and kickoff returns, however, that Whittingham said were not all that productive this season.

LOOKING AHEAD: Offensively, Utah has two starting spots to fill on the line with the graduation losses of Jones and left guard Jeremiah Tofaeono. Running backs Kelvin York and Karl Williams have also moved on. The Utes, however, have redshirt freshmen Troy McCormick and Dre’Vian Young waiting in the wings, plus Poole and Lucky Radley return. There’s also likely to be additions from the recruiting pool.

The planned bulk-up of the receiving corps is enhanced by the possible return of both tight ends Tonga and Murphy. Although Tonga will be back after getting a medical redshirt, Murphy is still weighing a possible jump to the NFL.

“We think that’s going to be a strong suit for us, again, going forward,” Whittingham said of the tight end position.

On defense, the big news is that senior Brian Blechen will be back at safety again after sitting out the 2013 season because of tendinitis. The former freshman All-American was in the process of being moved to linebacker before the injury — a move no longer necessary because of depth changes, including the addition of Miami (Fla.) transfer Gionni Paul.

“Trainers tell me he should be 100 percent ready to go by spring ball,” Whittingham said of Blechen. “So we’ll see what happens.”

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No timetable for possible staff changes

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah coach Kyle Whittingham declined to say if he would make any staff changes in the wake of the program’s second consecutive losing season.

“Everything’s being evaluated. That’s a work in progress. So there’s no definitive answers right now or definitive decisions I should say,” Whittingham said. “But that’s something you do each year is you evaluate everything you’re doing on the field, off the field, recruiting. Everything is being evaluated.”

Whittingham added that there is no timetable for the evaluations, noting that the process will last as long as it takes. Whittingham said he’s doing what he normally does in terms of making a full evaluation of things.

Email: dirk@desnews.com

Twitter: @DirkFacer

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