THE GOOD: The Utes extended their bowl winning streak to six games with a 25-13 victory over Tulsa in the Armed Forces Bowl. The win was Utah's eighth of the season, marking a one-game improvement from 2005. Senior Eric Weddle had a stellar year and was named a consensus all-American. Besides picking off a career-high six passes as a defensive back, Weddle also excelled at quarterback, running back and on special teams. The numerous accolades he received included a second consecutive Mountain West Conference defensive player of the year award. Sophomore kicker/punter Louie Sakoda was named conference co-special teams player of the year.
THE BAD: Things didn't start off well. UCLA blasted the Utes 31-10 in the season opener. Three victories followed before another subpar performance a 36-3 setback at home to national power Boise State. A win over TCU restored hope, but back-to-back road losses to Wyoming and New Mexico evened Utah's record at 4-4 overall and 2-2 in league play pretty much dooming the Utes' goal of winning the conference crown. Inconsistency on offense played a role in the setbacks. In the losses to Boise State and Wyoming, Utah managed just eight first downs (in each game) and turned the ball over a combined eight times.
THE FUTURE: A challenging schedule awaits the Utes in 2007. Aside from league games at BYU, TCU and Colorado State, Utah faces nonconference road tests at projected contenders Louisville and Oregon State. UCLA is also on the schedule. The Bruins are coming to Rice-Eccles Stadium. It remains to be seen if the games will prevent the Utes from improving on last season's eight wins. With 10 returning starters on offense, though, it may be possible. The task could depend on the defense, which has holes to fill up front and in the secondary. Is there life after Weddle? Stay tuned.