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.