Commentary: Some Utes saying new Stars will improve defense

Published: Sunday, Aug. 11 2013 10:43 p.m. MDT

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Sitake has said he’s not concerned with defending the outside run. The main reason would be Reilly.

Reilly (6-foot-5, 255 pounds) was the Utes’ leading tackler last fall with 69 stops. The senior earned honorable mention All Pac-12 honors while splitting time between linebacker (eight starts) and defensive end (four starts). When Kruger deferred from his final season, Whittingham quickly plugged in Reilly, now saying that Reilly is “an ideal end” for his team because of Reilly’s quickness, length and pass rushing abilities.

Whittingham says “the traditional big defensive end is becoming a thing of the past,” saying the position has evolved into a hybrid now — part defensive lineman, part linebacker. Because neither Orchard nor Jason Whittingham are his size, Reilly must do even more for the Utes to be competitive this season, aside from leadership. ESPN’s Kevin Gemmell says Reilly is Utah’s “most important player,” saying that as last year’s leading tackler, he'll be asked to take on a greater role as a pass-rusher while also maintaining his stop-the-run approach.

When he is at linebacker, look for Orchard or Whittingham to be on the right end — which means lots of speed crashing on the backfield. That should also open things up for Brian Blechen, who is making the move from the secondary to linebacker exclusively.

Gemmell is wrong when he writes that “it's very possible that Utah's offense and defense swap places in 2013,” when the former ranked 75th and the latter 49th in scoring. He’s correct in assessing that the impact of new co-offensive coordinator Dennis Erickson and the rise of Travis Wilson at quarterback could dramatically improve that side of the ball. But he’s irrational to say that “as the offense gets better, it's possible that the defense takes a hit during the rebuilding process. It's Reilly's job to make sure that doesn't happen. No pressure.”

Along with Blechen, Reilly clearly must lead the defense, but it shouldn’t plummet just because the offense is succeeding. If anything, that will improve the defensive backs when they are left to face signal-callers like Arizona State’s Taylor Kelly and UCLA’s Brett Hundley.

With six starters having departed from the 2012 defense — five to the NFL — Reilly’s veteran know-how is critical. After redshirting in 2009, Reilly has appeared in 36 games with 20 starts. Offenses should want to stay away from him: he's forced seven career fumbles — tying for third in school history. He’s also tallied 21 tackles for a loss and 11.5 sacks in his career. Just last season, Reilly added 6.5 tackles for loss and a team-leading 4.5 sacks.
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Highland, UT

Let's see, only one article and this many proclomations of being "the best".

"Whittingham was adamant about how good Palepoi and junior Sese Ianu are, already ranking them among the best tackles in the Pac-12, despite neither having started an NCAA game. (Keep in mind that Whittingham has already placed two of his quarterbacks in the “upper echelon” of the conference, with a third listed as a co-second stringer.)"

"if Orchard is right about Palepoi. “He’s just as good as Star,”"

"Palepoi may be rivaling Orchard for most bold assessments. He says the offensive line is making the defensive line so good because the latter is the best in the Pac-12."

So let's see according to utah coaches and players utah has "two upper echelon qb's" and "two of the best d tackles in the pac12" as well as a player "as good as star", and also an "offensive line....is the best in the pac 12".

Amazing how utah is "the best" in everything despite that losing record. If BYU players and coaches made those claims utah "fans" would be making a huge deal out of it.

Omaha, NE

I agree with Duckhunter on the still unproven remarks made by Utah coaches and players. I think you've got to see them line up on the ball and see where things go after its snapped, until then it is pure speculation.

As far as BYU players and coaches predictions, I will have to disagree with Duckhunter's comments. We have seen it happen from both the U and the Y coaches and players. We have heard countless times that the Y's line is the biggest and best and the list goes on and on.

I think what it boils down to is that coaches and players (at times) like to build up their players or teammates in an attempt to raise moral and confidence.

At the end of the day, nothing matters until the end of the game/year and the record that the team has in the end.


Salt Lake City, UT

Your right Duckhunter, BYU players have never said any brash statements.

Las Vegas, NV

We all know about byU coach speak:

"Mendenhall initally said that "Tradition," Spirit," and "Honor" will be worn as long as he is coach. Mendenhall explained that "Tradition, Spirit, Honor" should be synonymous with BYU football."

..... well, maybe only for homecoming. Way to stick to your guns Bronco!

Can't wait for August 29! I am also looking forward to the fourth annual migration to Tulsa and the resulting silence from down south.

Go Utes! Onward and Upward!

Highland, UT


I never made that claim, I'm just pointing out more utah "fan" hypocrisy, which isn't hard to do nor do I ever have to wait long to find some.

And wookie is correct, hyperbole such as this is committed by both sides, frankly it is committed by every single program out there. But of course it is utah "fans" like yourself that want to constantly mock BYU for it while ignoring it from the utah side. And the truth be known it is far more prevalent from the utah side these last couple of years.

The humor in a school with a losing record, that has yet to even beet a conference team with a winning record, proclaiming itself "the best" at so many positions and at so many things is really fun for BYU fans like myself to witness. Then of course to have utah "fans" like yourself believe it while hypocritically bashing BYU for far fewer and far less ridiculous statements is the icing on the cake.

Thanks for making this thread another big win!

U 90
Corona, CA


Five words: Jake Heaps & Quest for Perfection. What was that you were saying about hype from your glass house?

Why would you or anyone doubt Whit's eye for talent on the defensive side of the ball? Utah did put 3 defensive lineman in in the NFL last year and 5 defensive players overall. Your attempt to stir the pot leaves you looking foolish once again.

Las Vegas, NV

Brash statements from:

1- byU football player: "Magic happens"
2- byU head coach: "Honor, Spirit and Tradition will be on the back of the jerseys as long as I am coach"
3- byU "fan": "Fangupo will be the first player taken out of the State of Utah in the NFL draft"


1- Where's the magic been since that utterance? Gone!
2- Ya, that lasted about 6 hours, or he will only be coach for homecoming!
3- Where is Fangupo?

Go Utes!! Love the desperate southy spin!

Salt Lake City, UT

Your statement speaks for itself as does your total obsession with Utah.

Highland, UT

@gofish and all others that replied. Thanks for more hypocrisy.


West Jordan, UT


While I couldn't agree more with your assessment that claims of superiority and dominance coming from the U are silly this early on, I find myself somewhat amazed that any die hard Cougar supporter would actually dare call them out. I've watched BYU hype up their season to uncharted levels year after year, only to have reality on the field fall far short of the expectations. Do I really need to remind you about the "Quest"? And that was just the tip of the iceberg.

The U needs to get a grip too! That PAC membership and supposed 4 star recruiting means nothing from a credibility standpoint if the Utes and these "new stars" get kicked around again in conference. And no, all is not forgiven as long as they beat BYU. Utah needs PAC 12 wins, probably a lot of them, to gain credibility.

Springville, UT

"It led a defense that ranked second in the Pac-12 against the rush last year."

Ahhh, the bright spot of last year's bowl-less season. Being #2 in one stat.

Well girlse and boys, defense doesn't win games as evidenced by last year's holiday bowl break. So all of that great talent going to the NFL doesn't mean squat this year.

Sugar coating this story saying the Utes lost this and that to the NFL doesn't change the hard facts, there's a void to be filled and the preseason coach bluster to go with it is pretty funny.

And Duckhunter drilling and hitting a nerve is even funnier.

Provo, UT

Will Ducky ever go troll somewhere else? It won'T happen because that would mean He has been cured of his Utes jealously.obsession and inferiority complex.

Sandy, UT


Also evidenced by Utah beating BYU. I have to say I really do agree with you and Ducky that Whitt is talking a bit too much and throwing out some compliments that are way too high overrated but any BYU fan has no room to talk about players or coaches hyping things up too much.

U 90
Corona, CA

Hypocrisy begins when opposing "fans" are the first to post on a Utah thread trashing Ute coaches and fans. Why would any Y fan make those types of comments when they have such fresh examples of hype coming out of their own backyard (see Apo, Anae 1.0, Doman, Anae 2.0 plus all the previously mentioned examples)?

CO Ute


I'm really struggling with you comment .. "I'm just pointing out more utah "fan" hypocrisy, which isn't hard to do nor do I ever have to wait long to find some."

You were the very first person to post on this article which makes it impossible to point out fan hypocrisy. Maybe you should at least wait long enough for someone to make a post before trying to enrage all the Utah fans.

Regarding the article, I see nothing wrong with Coach Whit saying player are 'among the best' or 'are in the upper echelon'. Glad to see him supporting our team.

Highland, UT

@co ute

A couple of things, I agree with you and see no problem with whittingham saying he thinks this or that about certain players. But that is where the utah "fan" hypocrisy comes in. You know this because you read all of the threads for both schools so you know that utah "fans" mock and criticize BYU coaches, players, and fans for making any sort of similar assertion. It is constant from them, all of the "pre season national champions" comments, etc.

But we get an article here, and this isn't the first one, were some utah coaches and players engage in similar, if not worse, hyperbole about their own players or prospects and there is silence, or agreement, on the part of utah "fans". It is hypocrisy and since those utah "fans" enjoy pointing out excesses from BYU people I enjoy exposing their hypocrisy.

Now that said who really knows if any of what these utah coaches and players claimed is true or not, I certainly don't, but that isn't the point.

East Salt Lake City, Utah

Last year we were picked to finish 2nd in the South from 8 to 10 wins. Then injuries exposed the reality that we lacked PAC-12 depth, in particular at QB, OL, LB.

This year the depth looks promising but I'll wait until after game three to make any assessments about this Ute team.


"Tradition, Spirit, Honor"

Which one are you reflecting with your posts?

Highland, UT


I'm a fan of a sports program, nothing more. of course I want to thank you for once again exposing your standard utah "fan" hypocrisy of trying to hold BYU fans to a higher standard than you hold yourself and other utah "fans".

Tell me how well do you think your constant negative posts on BYU articles represent the university of utah?

West Jordan, Utah

Yeah we are all invited to the hype train on this article. It's a positive entertainment for me though. During this time of year it's interesting to pay attention where we can, to the goings on in the fall camps. There is the hype of image and potential, there are the new schemes (changes/coaches), the emerging performers, the injuries, the drama, and the mocking of the rival (which is mostly based on camp story lines).


There are comments of yours sometimes that I don't take any exception with. Usually it's condolences for a fallen Ute, or a quick and less abrasive take or comment. But here, I can't believe that such a meaty, lengthy and critical take of the Utes could be received so well from me. Basically I agree with everything you said, the first comment that is. The others fell into the 'hypocrisy' come back wagon thing (defensive mode).

It sounds lame to talk about having conference elite players when you aren't winning the at least two thirds of your games. But that said, Utah has developed some NFL talent. Wins would be better though.

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