Utah enters this Saturday’s matchup with UCLA as the co-leader in the Pac-12 South, but the Utes have a tough schedule ahead and several key injuries weighing them down. At the beginning of the season, this game looked like one that would be a key factor in deciding the Pac-12 South champion. Now the Bruins need it to just stay in the hunt. The Salt Lake Tribune’s Kyle Goon answered some questions about the Utes, their growing injury report and their impressive new punter.
1. Injuries have marred Utah’s season, yet the Utes are still tied for first in the Pac-12 South. How have they been able to get by and how long will it last?
It’s been a bit of a circus. The Cal game was the ultimate low, as four key starters were either missing or got injured during the game, and it probably changed the complexion of the match-up — Utah’s only loss of the year. If healthy, it’s reasonable to believe that Utah would be 7-0 so far (they were 1 yard shy of beating Cal). At running back, they’ve gone from a young core to the running back that retired when his starting status appeared to be threatened (see below), and they’re on their fourth center since spring. The defense has been healthier in general, until last week when they lost the free safety and middle linebacker against the Beavers. It’s awfully precarious. I think most observers believe that Utah could be out of the South running if the current injured players miss a lot of time, and ESPN’s FPI ranks them as the fourth-best team in the South. The schedule is backloaded: After UCLA, Utah still has to face Washington, Arizona State, Oregon and Colorado. Continue reading