It's been nearly a month since the season ended for the University of Utah football team. While eight members of the Pac-12, plus two in-state rivals, are playing in the postseason, the Utes find themselves on the outside looking in.
Instead of preparing for a trip to Albuquerque, San Antonio, Las Vegas or San Diego, the Utes are making plans for 2013.
Make no mistake about it, this isn't about playing a MAC or Big 12 team in a bowl game that very few people would be watching, but rather about the ability to be on the practice field for another three weeks working with a core group of players who will be returning, and giving the senior class one more shot to play in a Utah uniform.
Instead of coaching the players they currently have, the Utah coaching staff is out trying to coach players into coming to play football for the Utes.
Since we are less than a week away from Santa delivering gifts for Christmas, let me put together a short wish list for Utah football fans for this Christmas …
I wish for the continued and rapid development of quarterback Travis Wilson. As we've seen firsthand the last two seasons, you can't expect to compete week-in and week-out in the Pac-12 without great play out of the quarterback position. We got glimpses of Wilson's talent as a true freshman; now it's time to elevate his game to the next level.
My next wish is actually a gift for both Wilson and offensive coordinator Brian Johnson. I'd like to see the development of the juco offensive linemen that we've heard so much about. Aside from quarterback, the position grouping where Utah has been most inconsistent since joining the Pac-12 has been along the offensive line. The development of Wilson is closely tied with the evolution of the offensive line. And as long as we are wishing, here's hoping that Kyle Whittingham can find another Jeremiah Poutasi under his tree this Christmas.
For defensive coordinator Kalani Sitake, I'm hoping that he gets more athletes on his squad this Christmas. Aside from the skill along the front four, Utah needs an overall athletic upgrade at linebacker and in the secondary. While there are plenty of good, young athletes from the last two recruiting classes, you can never have too many.
Finally, a Christmas wish for special teams coordinator Jay Hill and Ute fans everywhere. Here's hoping for a kicker with some consistency. For six years of Louie Sakoda and Joe Phillips, Utah football coaches and fans were spoiled with consistency. The last two seasons? Not so much. The Utes don't need a kicker with the biggest leg, just one that can be counted on. All coaches want is to know that if they line up for a 40-yard field goal that their guy is golden, nine times out of 10. Utah simply hasn't had that for a couple of seasons.
So there it is, my Christmas wish list for Utah football. The only question that remains between now and next Tuesday is how good a boy have I been this year.
Here's hoping that I make the nice list.
Bill Riley is the co-host of the Bill and Hans Show weekdays from 2-6 p.m on ESPN 700 AM. You can follow Bill on Twitter @espn700bill.
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