SALT LAKE CITY — Today is Christmas day for college football fans. After months of waiting, it has finally arrived. The "it" being fall football practice.
Kyle Whittingham's University of Utah football team is on the field today for the first time since the Red and White Game last spring, and for the first time as members of the Pac-12 Conference. With the excitement and anticipation that comes along with the start of a new football season, so too come a number of questions that will need answers for the Utes, such as ...
How healthy is Jordan Wynn's Shoulder?
The most important position in team sports is the quarterback. This also happens to be where Utah's biggest question as camp opens. Jordan Wynn missed spring ball while rehabbing his shoulder from offseason surgery. By all accounts his progress has been outstanding while throwing the football this summer. Utah needs Wynn to be healthy and effective this fall. What was apparent coming out of spring camp was that the other quarterbacks on the roster aren't yet ready to lead Utah into the Pac-12. Offensive coordinator Norm Chow has spoken glowingly about Wynn's football pedigree and IQ, now he needs to see it on the field.
How quickly can Utah make the transition to Norm Chow's offense?
Gone are the days of the spread offense at the University of Utah. After offensive struggles last season, Whittingham said he wanted to see more of a downhill running game and a more traditional offense. So he brought in one of the great offensive minds of the last 30 years in college football in Chow. You won't see many three- and four-wide receiver sets on the field, but rather more pro style, two wideouts, one tight end, and two-back sets. Change can always be difficult, with new plays, philosophy and terminology. Throw into the mix a quarterback coming off major surgery and the top three running backs that lack a single Division I carry and things could get really interesting.
What will the secondary look like?
The Utes will be replacing all four starters in the secondary this fall. For the first time in a long time there won't be a proven corner or safety returning to the Utah defense, and that's the bad news if you are a Ute fan. The good news is that the defensive staff has raved about the potential and athleticism of the guys they have returning and entering the program. Conroy Black, Ryan Lacy, Reggie Topps, Wykie Freeman will all battle for starting spots at corner. All four have been in the program and know what's expected from a Whittingham/Sitaki defense. The two safety spots are a bit more unsettled, with only Michael Walker and Greg Bird returning with any experience.
Practice begins today, the opener against Montana State is less than a month away, then it's Pac-12 play against USC. By the time the Utes head to Southern California they will have the answers to these questions. Here's hoping the answers are what Ute fans are looking for.
Bill Riley can be heard as the voice of the University of Utah on game days and also on weekdays from 2-6 p.m. on the "Bill and Spence Show" on ESPN Radio 700 AM.