NCAA Football 2011: Top Storylines for the Utah Utes Heading into Fall Camp
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As the University of Utah enjoys the last days of Summer break before fall camp, they will soon enter a new frontier of BCS membership.
With this membership, comes the task of preparing for their first season gauntlet of Pac-12 contenders.
Fate was kind to the Utes, as Stanford and Oregon (arguably the top two teams in the conference) are absent from their 2011 schedule. Even so, there's much work to be done preparing for the likes of USC, Pitt, BYU, Cal, Oregon State, Arizona and Arizona State.
Expectations are high for the Utes in and out of Utah, and you can bet tons of national attention will be focused on Salt Lake City this season as everyone is anxious to see what Colorado University and the U can do in the Pac-12.
Before all that, though, the Utes have a few interesting storylines heading into camp:
Jordan Wynn Rejoins the QB Race
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Utes' 2010 starting quarterback Jordan Wynn will return to the team after a spring spent finishing rehab on his surgically-repaired shoulder.
Wynn spent the spring practicing and working out with the team and learning the new offensive schemes brought on by Norm Chow, hired as the Utes new Offensive Coordinator prior to spring camp.
Because Wynn was unable to fully participate in throwing drills, the QB race was somewhat of a non-topic as Tyler Shreve (FR) and Griff Robles (SO) focused on learning Chow's system, resigned to the notion that once Wynn returned, the starting spot would be his to lose.
The big questions this fall: How effective was Wynn's shoulder surgery, and how effective will he be as a pro-style QB?
Who Will Emerge as Starting Running Back?
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Maybe one of the most interesting storylines will be which of the untested running backs will edge out the others as starter.
Now, Utah is definitely no stranger to having a RB by committee system and no slouch at making it work for that matter.
The main contenders at RB for the 2011 season include true freshman Harvey Langi, rugby All-Star turned football novice Thretton Palamo and JC transfer John White IV.
Harvey Langi was the top recruit for Utah this past offseason. Langi chose Utah over numerous other top-tier schools, including USC.
Thretton Palamo (shown above) played rugby for the University of Utah as a freshman last year but will now be playing both rugby and football for the Utes. Palamo comes highly—highly regarded as a freak athlete that could dominate in multiple facets of the football game. He's still getting accustomed to the rules and finer details and differences of the game.
Both Palamo and Langi are smash-mouth style runners with no fear of lowering the lid and plowing through the competition.
JC transfer John White IV is and speedster that gives the Utes that agile, stop and start-on-a-dime type RB that Utah hasn't had in a long, long while.
Will the Utes Be Able To Reload at DB?
Former Ute Sean Smith (31) in Coverage
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Utah, over the last decade, has been consistent on the defensive end of the football and head coach Kyle Whittingham has everything to do with that.
Coach Whit' was Utah's defensive coordinator for 15 years prior to being named head coach of the Utes. Needless to say, he has been very involved and knowledgable when it comes to filling defensive positions.
Utah is famous for recruiting just pure athletic talent. Even our linemen (i.e. C Zane Taylor) are stacked and bench pressing 500 lbs. with decent 40 times. Kids brought in as quarterbacks, are input into defensive positions at LB and even DE (i.e. Paul Kruger).
For as long as Kyle Whittingham is at the helm of the Utes, fans will never worry about a bad defense coming from on the hill. If anyone can reload at any position on defense, it's Coach Whit'. True sophomore Brian Blechen showed how right that is with his year one success last season.
How Well Will Norm Chow Get the Upper-Classmen Acclimated to His Offense.
Utes Offensive Coordinator Norm Chow
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One of the most intriguing story lines with Utah this season would have to include the shift in an offense that Ute fans have become accustom to since Urban Meyer hit the scene in 2003.
Norm Chow is a proven winner and a proven teacher as three QB's under his tutelage have won the Heisman Trophy, from two separate universities—BYU (Ty Detmer) and USC (Carson Palmer & Matt Leinart).
His time at UCLA was short but not sweet. For that reason, I am very anxious to see how it all comes together in fall camp.