Utah faces a much different situation this spring than the last one.
Last spring a quarterback battle between Corbin Louks, Terrance Cain and Jordan Wynn was the big story leading up to the season. Who was to replace Sugar Bowl MVP quarterback Brian Johnson? It ended up being Terrance Cain, then later Jordan Wynn.
This season is different. Utah has a clear starting quarterback with some experience under his belt. The Utes should have a much more productive spring. Offensively Utah returns eight starters and three all-conference players. Spring will be a time for the offense to continue to gel together.
The WR position will be the biggest issue offensively. Utah loses David Reed, Aiona Key, Elijah Wesson and John Peel to graduation. The only returning starter is Jereme Brooks. Shaky Smithson, Luke Matthews, DeVonte Christopher and other young players be battling for the starter positions at WR.
John Cullen is expected to replace All American Zane Beadles on the offensive line, but he will not be at Utah in time for spring football. Sam Brenner and Derek Tuimauga will be playing guard in spring until Cullen arrives.
Matt Asiata will return for the Utes but will not participate in spring ball due to injury. Eddie Wide isn't expected to get much reps to keep him healthy so backups should get plenty of experience.
Defensive preview after the jump
Defensively, Utah loses a lot of starters. They have to replace all three starting linebackers, their safeties and a lineman. Three of those players, Koa Misi, Robert Johnson and Stevenson Sylvester, were first team All MWC. Spring will be an important time for the defense to break in some new players.
Since Kyle Whittingham arrived at Utah, it seems the defense is always strong. I don't expect much of a drop off at all. There is depth to fill in their holes. Former QB Chad Manis, J.J. Williams and Nai Fotu are expected to become the starting linebackers. Justin Taplin-Taplin Ross and freshman Damian Payne are expected to become the starting safeties.
There will be a battle between Lamar Chapman and Kamaron Yancy to replace R.J. Stanford at cornerback. Chapman is the early favorite to win the battle.
Spring practice for the Utes officially started Tuesday. The first big news was the announcement that sophomore safety Victor Spikes will be switching to running back. "He did some nice things for us last year. I'm thinking it's a permanent move. I'm going to keep him as long as they let me," Aaron Roderick said to The Salt Lake Tribune.
Spring practice will run until the Red/White game on April 17, 2010.