The Utes' season starts on Thursday against the Montana State Bobcats. Here are the five Bobcat players the Utes need to look out for.
The 6-foot-2, 236-pound senior has been a starter for the past two seasons in the middle for the Bobcats. He played just 10 games last year, but had 42 tackles, a sack and a fumble recovery.
"Clay has worked hard to get through his medical situation (a career-threatening back infection), but we look forward to him being full go,'' says MSU coach Rob Ash.
You've got to love this guy for his name alone. He caught 43 passes for 682 yards and four touchdowns in 2010 and has caught at least one pass in his last 22 straight games. He is also the team's primary punt returner.
"I feel like Elvis Akpla is going to be a guy who will be very difficult to handle one-on-one on the outside,'' says MSU coach Rob Ash.
Last year as a sophomore, the 6-foot-1, 285-pounder had five sacks, 10 tackles for a loss, nine pass breakups and two interceptions, including a 53-yard pickoff for a touchdown in a 30-7 win against Eastern Washington.
"Zach Minter is a dynamic player who can impact a game in a number of different ways, from a number of places,'' says MSU coach Rob Ash.
If Thursday night's game is close, he may be the difference, considering the Utes' kicking woes so far. Cunningham enters his senior season as MSU's all-time leading kicker in field goals made and last year was successful on 20 of his 24 attempts, including two from over 50 yards.
"He has been so accurate, he's gained distance during his career, he's really a weapon,'' says MSU coach Rob Ash.
As a freshman McGhee earned Big Sky Conference co-MVP after leading the Bobcats to a Big Sky co-title and he is being touted as one of the top offensive players in the Football Championship Subdivision this year. He completed 62.7 percent of his passes for 3,163 yards and 23 touchdowns and also was the team's third leading rusher with 181 yards and ran for two TDs.
"I think he's even better than he was as a freshman. His mental approach to the game has improved, his reads are sharp, he's technically very sound,'' says MSU coach Rob Ash.