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

Published: Monday, Aug. 31 2015 6:51 p.m. MDT

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) 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."

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.   (Tom Smart, Deseret News) 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. (Tom Smart, Deseret News)

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.

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) 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)

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.

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) 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)

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.

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. (Tom Smart, Deseret News) 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. (Tom Smart, Deseret News)

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.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Smithson earned All-America status as a punt returner, making spectacular plays that top Utah's highlight reel. Opponents began to make adjustments, however, limiting opportunities later in the season.

Utah's kickoff coverage remained consistent. Whittingham said it was "outstanding."

The same, however, could not be said for the punt game.

Whittingham was especially displeased with several blocks the Utes surrendered and called it "disappointing" and a "big negative."

On the positive side, at least until the bowl game, was kicker Joe Phillips. Whittingham said the senior was instrumental in two great seasons.

SCHEDULE

The Utes went 7-1 in their final season in the Mountain West Conference. They topped everyone but national power and Rose-Bowl winning TCU.

While the lopsided November loss highlighted how Utah's 2010 schedule (which included non-conference foes Pittsburgh, San Jose State, Iowa State and Notre Dame) went from weak to strong as the season progressed, the 2011 slate has a more steady look to it. That's what life in the Pac-12 will do for the Utes. They'll face USC, California, Arizona and Washington State on the road in conference play. Home games include Washington, Arizona State, Oregon State, UCLA and Colorado,

"Everybody is excited for the challenge. The bar is raised, as I've said over and over again, it's going to be very difficult," Whittingham said. "We are transitioning into a conference that plays good football and we've got a challenge in front of us. There's no question."

Utah's non-conference schedule also includes some tests. Besides the season opener at home against Montana State, the Utes will hit the road for games at BYU and Pittsburgh.

Last season at Rice-Eccles Stadium, Utah had close contests with both teams — defeating the Cougars 17-16 and outlasting the Panthers 27-24 in overtime.

Utah Utes

Record: 10-3 overall (7-1 in Mountain West Conference)

Postseason: Lost to Boise State, 2-3 in MAACO Bowl Las Vegas.

Statistical leaders

Passing: Jordan Wynn (186-299, 2,334 yards, 17 touchdowns, 10 interceptions)

Receiving yards: DeVonte Christopher (39 catches, 660 yards, 6 touchdowns)

Rushing: Eddie Wide (149 rushes, 717 yards, 11 touchdowns)

Sacks: Lamar Chapman (6.5)

Interceptions: Brian Blechen (4)

Tackles: Chaz Walker (113)

2010 Results

Schedule

Date Result

Sept. 2 UTAH 27, Pittsburgh 24 (OT)

Sept. 11 UTAH 38, UNLV 10

Sept. 18 UTAH 56, New Mexico 14

Sept. 25 UTAH 56, San Jose State 3

Oct. 9 UTAH 68, Iowa State 27

Oct. 16 UTAH 30, Wyoming 6

Oct. 23 UTAH 59, Colorado State 6

Oct. 30 UTAH 28, Air Force 23

Nov. 6 TCU 47, UTAH 7

Nov. 13 Notre Dame 28, UTAH 3

Nov. 20 UTAH 38, San Diego State 34

Nov. 27 UTAH 17, BYU 16

Dec. 22 Boise State 26, UTAH 3

2011 Schedule

Date Opponent

Sept. 1 Montana State

Sept. 10 at Southern Calif.

Sept. 17 at BYU

Oct. 1 Washington

Oct. 8 Arizona State

Oct. 15 at Pittsburgh

Oct. 22 at California

Oct. 29 Oregon State

Nov. 5 at Arizona

Nov. 12 UCLA

Nov. 19 at Washington State

Nov. 26 Colorado

e-mail: dirk@desnews.com

Utah Utes

Record: 10-3 overall (7-1 in Mountain West Conference)

Postseason: Lost to Boise State, 2-3 in MAACO Bowl Las Vegas.

Statistical leaders

Passing: Jordan Wynn (186-299, 2,334 yards, 17 touchdowns, 10 interceptions)

Receiving yards: DeVonte Christopher (39 catches, 660 yards, 6 touchdowns)

Rushing: Eddie Wide (149 rushes, 717 yards, 11 touchdowns)

Sacks: Lamar Chapman (6.5)

Interceptions: Brian Blechen (4)

Tackles: Chaz Walker (113)

2010 Results

Schedule

Date Result

Sept. 2 UTAH 27, Pittsburgh 24 (OT)

Sept. 11 UTAH 38, UNLV 10

Sept. 18 UTAH 56, New Mexico 14

Sept. 25 UTAH 56, San Jose State 3

Oct. 9 UTAH 68, Iowa State 27

Oct. 16 UTAH 30, Wyoming 6

Oct. 23 UTAH 59, Colorado State 6

Oct. 30 UTAH 28, Air Force 23

Nov. 6 TCU 47, UTAH 7

Nov. 13 Notre Dame 28, UTAH 3

Nov. 20 UTAH 38, San Diego State 34

Nov. 27 UTAH 17, BYU 16

Dec. 22 Boise State 26, UTAH 3

2011 Schedule

Date Opponent

Sept. 1 Montana State

Sept. 10 at Southern Calif.

Sept. 17 at BYU

Oct. 1 Washington

Oct. 8 Arizona State

Oct. 15 at Pittsburgh

Oct. 22 at California

Oct. 29 Oregon State

Nov. 5 at Arizona

Nov. 12 UCLA

Nov. 19 at Washington State

Nov. 26 ColoradoHeady

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