In 2003/2004, under Urban Meyer, the Utes took the next step onto the National stage. During those years they went 22-2 and 13-1 in the Mountain West Conference. Kyle Whittingham stepped in and has filled Meyer’s shoes quite nicely. While Utah was in the MWC he posted an overall record of 58-20 (and 35-13 in-conference). In 2011, the Utes would face a new challenge. The expanded Pac-12.
When we talked to Sean from the Utah based blog Block U before the season he said he thought Utah would go 8-4 and contend for the Pac-12 South Title. Of course, he didn’t know their starting QB Jordan Wynn would go down with an injury and only play in four games. Lucky for Utah that they drew just about the easiest possible Pac-12 schedule. Sure they played at USC early in the season but they missed out on both Oregon and Stanford. The Utes came dangerously close to Sean’s prediction as they came from behind to beat Georgia Tech in the Sun Bowl to finish the season at 8-5. It wasn’t the best season for Utah as they went 4-5 in their inaugural season in the Pac-12 (the division winner UCLA went just 5-4) but all things considered I think it could have been a lot worse. Once again we caught up with Block U to get their take on the 2011 season and take a brief glimpse into what 2012 has in store for the Utes.
CFBZ: Utah had a pretty easy Pac-12 schedule in their debut year (no Oregon and no Stanford). Do you consider this season a success?
Block U: I think it was a successful all things considered. It’s hard for any team to bounce back after losing their starting quarterback in the first conference game of the season and the Utes did with relative success. Sure, I think we all wanted more and the Colorado game certainly was a disappointment, but to finish 8-5 and to be a game away from playing in the first-ever Pac-12 title game was about what we expected heading into the year. So, it’s hard not to find that satisfying – even if it could have been far better.
CFBZ: What is the lasting memory you will have of this season?
Block U: I think John White’s game-winning touchdown against Georgia Tech in the Sun Bowl is a memory most Ute fans will carry for a while now. Utah needed that win and it was a huge boost to the program heading into a new season, especially after the egg they laid against Colorado back in November.
CFBZ: If you could have a “do over” for any game which would it be?
Block U: Probably the Colorado game. A win there would have put Utah in the Pac-12 title game and even though a win was unlikely, it still would’ve been pretty cool playing for a Rose Bowl berth.
CFBZ: What are the primary areas that Utah needs to improve in order to take the next step in 2012?
Block U: Well quarterback depth is a major concern. When Jordan Wynn went down last year, the offense sputtered and relied on Jon Hays, a transfer who was set to play football at Nebraska-Omaha before their football program was cut. Nebraska-Omaha is a Division II school – so, we started a Division II quarterback for most the year. Also, the offensive line has to improve. They got pushed around in the Pac-12 and that has to change if the Utes are going to be competitive in the future. Fortunately, the coaching staff brought in two freshman quarterbacks (one is the best player in the state of Utah) and shored up the offensive line, so, with Wynn returning, things are looking up.
CFBZ: What are your early expectations for next year?
Block U: I think we all expect to contend for the Pac-12 South. Obviously USC will be the favorites, as they should, but a second place finish is probably the universal expectation – especially with how weak the South again looks. So, 8 or 9 regular season wins and a winning conference record.
Previous 2011 Exit Surveys