A Look At The Utes

Is it too early to take a quick peek at UND’s season opening opponent, The Utah Utes?  We don’t think so.

Here is some information that we were able to glean from their recently completed spring ball session:

  • Utah is coming off a 9-4 season that saw them beat Indiana in the Foster Farms Bowl out in Santa Clara.
  • Utah’s average attendance at Rice-Eccles Stadium is around 46,000 (that is max capacity-sold out).
  • The Utes have a new offensive coordinator in former Eastern Washington OC Troy Taylor.  We all know how many points EWU would put up per week in their no-huddle, spread offense.
  • The Utes have emphasized “tempo”, which tells us they are going no-huddle and will resemble EWU very closely.
  • The Utes offense will throw the ball more than they have in the past.
  • QB Battle.  The Utes have a three-way QB battle going on but it seems they are leaning one way.
  • Incumbent starter #3 Troy Williams is presumed to be the starter but it’s not set in stone yet.  Williams, 6’2-200, started all 13 games last season for the Utes, going 207-of-390 (53.1%) for 2,757 yards and 15 touchdowns vs. 8 INT’s.  By all accounts, Williams was inconsistent last season and it will be interesting to see how a new offense goes for him.
  • #1 Tyler Huntley, sophomore, played sparingly last season and is listed as #2 on the depth chart currently.
  • Former Alabama QB #18 Cooper Bateman is now on the Utes roster and is eligible to play this fall.  He is more of a pocket passer vs. the dual-threat styles of the previous two.
  • Overall, Utah had 8 players selected in the NFL draft.  They lost some talent, no doubt.
  • Utah returns 10 starters total.  (4 on offense, 5 on defense, 1 punter)
  • They lost starting RB Joe Williams (1,407 yards and 15 TD) who was taken in the 4th round by 49ers.
  • Utah will be inexperienced in the secondary after losing three starters to graduation.
  • They will also be inexperienced on the offensive line, losing four starters from last season to the NFL or graduation.
  • Utah’s strength will be their defense, once again.  They did lose pieces but from the sounds of it have solid depth throughout and should be formidable again.
  • In 2016, the Utes base 4-3 defense allowed 24 pts/game, 128 yards rushing, 254 yards passing for 382 total yards/game.
  • Their punter, junior #33 Mitch Wisnowsky, was a 2016 All-American and Ray Guy award winner (best punter in FBS).
  • Utah opened their 2016 season by beating fellow Big Sky foe Southern Utah 24-0.




11 Responses

  1. UNDColorado

    Great write up! I already have tickets purchased for this game and cannot wait! I anticipate great tailgating followed by a competitive game.

  2. Sioux69

    With the exception of the rather one-sided loss to Texas Tech, although not embarrassingly so, UND has played very well against their other FBS opponents. This game coming up against Utah could well be the most difficult. Over the years quite a few FBS teams have taken FCS opponents for granted and have paid the price for it. I know it’s very early but how do you see this one going?

    1. Honestly, we see a low-scoring slugfest. Their offense might take some time to get clicking due to timing, etc. UND will need to break something big and probably hit some special teams plays. No reason UND cannot hang with them.

  3. All ND fan in Utah.

    Living in Utah for some time it’s been great to see UND at SUU, Weber and ISU. I’ve told people here that UND and Utah are mirror images of each other. Utah has suffered losses that should have wins but for an offense that can’t score. Their defense is usually very good and special teams are also. UND’s offense has been more consistent but not the highest scoring either. So in the last couple of years they’ve been really similar in my opinion. If that is the case again it could be 16-12 with field goals ruling the day.

  4. Utah will basically return 7 starters on Defense: D-Line: Lotulelei, Mokofis, Fitts (Fitts,xfer from UCLA, played more reps than Taumoepenu last year, then got hurt) Linebacker: Laufatasaga, Tauteoli, Barton (Tauteoli was hurt early on last season) Secondary: Chase Hansen – Then Utah recruited five 4* DB recruits, 3 of which are JC transfers…but it’s a really good talented group. Time will tell if they can adjust to D1 ball. Corion Ballard, Marquise Lee, Tareke Lewis are the JC guys. Jaylon Johnson is the #6 ranked DB in the 2017 recruiting class – per Scout.com. Javelin Guidry just won the CA 100M state championship. Looking at Utah’s D-Line is an embarrassment of riches. Last season, a backup name Stevie Tuikolovatu graduate transferred to USC, was a starter from day 1 and got drafted, albeit the 7th round.

    Utah’s offense is the big unknown but generally, Utah feels it has all the talent it wants on the O-line, but is unsure how they will mesh. Same goes for the offense with Troy Taylor…lot’s of talent, but can they pick up the offense quick enough?

    Should be a good game.

    If you want to go on a quick day hike, try out Albion Basin – It’s gorgeous and only a 40 minute drive from SLC. https://www.flickr.com/photos/utahimages/5351752377

    Or head up to Park City, UT for dining and view the Olympic ski facilities and mountains in summer time, it’s great.

    Best of luck to you all!

    1. Thanks for the in-depth reply! We definitely know it will be a tough one for UND. The Hawks like to run the ball and throw play-action, which is going to be tough vs. a stout defense like the Utes. Hopefully its a good game and everyone has fun out in SLC!

  5. Utah Ute Fan here. Here’s a couple thoughts I have about Utah I count 7 returning starters on defense for Utah. D-Line (Lotulelei, Mokofis, Fitts) Linebacker: (Laufatasaga, Tauteoli, Barton) Secondary: Hansen. Fitts and Tauteoli were injured early last season and so most people don’t count them as starters from last season, but they were. Defense is first and foremost the importance to a Kyle Whittingham team. It’s what he knows, it’s who he is. Utah recruited five 4* db recruits in 2017, on for each DB position SS, FS, CB, CB, Nickel. 3 of the recruits are JC transfers in Corion Ballard, Marquise Blair, and Tareke Lewis. Then they were fortunate to land the #6 ranked corner in the country in Jaylon Johnson.

    What Utah has lacked in years past is a decent QB coach. This position has been a thorn in Utah’s side for 15 years. Not because Utah has not had good athletes, but because they never really got any traction because they are a defensive minded team first. Hell, there’s a joke around that when we get a top rated QB to commit, we say, “he’ll make one hell of a safety or LB.” So Utah hired an OC that was the HS coach of Jake Browning of Washington. Troy Taylor founded and ran the Passing Academy in Sacramento, CA and has been a QB guru for 20 + years. While Taylor hasn’t coached 1 minute for the Utes, fans are hopeful that he can be the answer to Utah’s offensive woes. I call it woes, because Utah has been right on the cusp of winning the PAC 12 south several times, except that we can’t get anything done through the air to loosen up the defenses.

    Good luck to you guys. Enjoy SLC, UT if you make it out here.

    If you have an extra day I recommend eating at Silver Fork Lodge at the top of Big Cottonwood Canyon, which is 40 minutes from Downtown SLC or the UofU football stadium. Then drive over Guardsmans pass into Park City. Along the way You’ll have made it past 4 world class ski resorts.

Comments are closed.