The Utes open Pac-12 play on Saturday in Los Angeles against USC. Here are the top five players that the Utes need to look out for.
At Cottonwood High, Martinez was recruited by nearly everybody before choosing to take his talents to USC. After redshirting as a freshman in 2009 and playing briefly last year, the 6-foot-2, 290-pounder earned the starting right guard job this year.
According to Utah coach Kyle Whittingham, his team recruited Martinez "very hard," but came up empty, even though his cousins Henry, Jeff, Doug and Jason Kaufusi all played for Utah. "He was a national recruit and I don't know anyone in the country that wouldn't have been delighted to have him on their football team," said Whittingham. "He was a guy we made every effort to get. Had we been in the Pac-12 at the time, we may have had a better shot at him, but at that time we really didn't have a much of a chance."
Tyler gained a lot of notoriety in the summer for his comments to TMZ, insinuating that USC players were paid. Because of his comments, he was immediately suspended by coach Lane Kiffin for the first game against Minnesota. However, he will back this week for the Utah game. The Trojans will be happy after rushing for just 67 yards in the opener. Last year Tyler was USC's top rusher with 913 yards and nine touchdowns. At 5-foot-11, 230 pounds, he is USC's biggest back. The other two backs who played last week, D.J. Morgan and Curtis McNeal, are 190 and 180 pounds, respectively.
After seeing limited action as a freshman, McDonald started at free safety last year and ended up as the team's leading tackler with 89 stops. He also had three interceptions, three tackles for loss, a sack and a blocked punt. At 6-foot-3, 205 pounds, he has excellent size for a safety. His father, Tim was a two-time all-American safety for USC in 1985-86
Just a junior, Barkley already ranks No. 6 on USC's passing list and is No. 7 in total offense with nearly 6,000 yards. He's been a starter since the day he stepped on campus as a true freshman. He was very consistent in his first two seasons, passing for 2,735 yards and 15 touchdowns as a freshman and 2,791 yards and 26 touchdowns as a sophomore. In last week's opening win over Minnesota, Barkley got off to a good start, completing 34 of 45 passes for 304 yards and three touchdowns.
The Utah defensive backs will have their hands full keeping track of Woods on Saturday. In the season opener, he had one of the nation's top performances when he caught a school-record 17 passes for 177 yards and three touchdowns. Only a sophomore, Woods was the Trojans' leading receiver last year when he caught 65 passes for 792 yards and six touchdowns. Woods is also a dangerous kick returner, where he already ranks seventh on the school's career kickoff return list with 1,044 yards. Last year he was the Pac-10 Offensive Freshman of the Year and first-team freshman all-American — and he was first-team all-Pac-10 as both a receiver and returner.