Nov 23, 2012; Boulder, CO, USA; Utah Utes head coach Kyle Whittingham on his sidelines in the first quarter of the game against the Colorado Buffaloes at Folsom Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Pac-12 Football Preview: South No. 5 Utah Utes

Nov 10, 2012; Seattle, WA, USA; Utah Utes quarterback Travis Wilson (7) passes the ball against the Washington Huskies during the 1st half at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Pac-12 Season Preview Series


6. Colorado


2012 record: 5-7 (3-6 Pac-12)

Key returnees: WR Dres Anderson, TE Jake Murphy, OT Jeremiah Poutasi, DB Eric Rowe

Key departures: DE Joe Kruger, DB Ryan Lacy, DT Star Lotulelei, RB John White

Key additions: DT Lowell Lotulelei (Bingham High School/South Jordan, UT), DT Gaius Vaenuku (Trinity HS/Euless, TX), CB Davion Orphey (Santa Ana College/Compton, Calif.)

2012 season recap:

With a defense lead by one of the best linemen in the nation and an offense hampered by a lack of talent at the skill positions, Utah placed near the bottom of the Pac-12 South. The season started off brilliantly with a 41-0 blowout of Northern Colorado, but quickly took a turn for the worse as the Utes lost five of their next six games.

After a 38-28 loss to then No. 13 USC, head coach Kyle Wittingham decided to focus on the future as he made freshman Travis Wilson the starting quarterback for the remainder of the season. Wilson performed admirably, only recording one sub-100 QB rating in the final seven games of the season. That, of course, came in a crushing 35-14 loss to the Huskies, in which he completed less than 35 percent of his passes.

Wilson and running back John White were able to recover from the mid-season struggles and rebound to finish 5-7 after winning three of their final five games.

2013 season preview:

The Utes lose some significant players on both sides of the ball, most notably Lotulelei and White, but they return one of the top tight ends in the conference and one of the top offensive linemen in the country. With Wittingham at the helm, it is hard to see Utah struggling too much – there should be a significant gap between Colorado and Utah at the bottom of the South.

There is going to be a lot on the line in the first week of the season, as the Utes will look to avenge last season’s loss to in-state rival Utah State Aggies. Utah misses Washington this season, a likely loss, but it also misses California, a likely win, so the scheduling is generally a wash.

Wilson should be able to improve upon last season, with seven game’s experience under his belt and a veteran group of receivers. Despite the losses of Lotulelei and a few starters in the defensive backfield, the defense looks to be solid again this season. The key for the Utes will be how Kelvin York performs as the go-to running back. The most carries he had in a game last year was 13 against Arizona State, rushing for 86 yards. He’ll have an experienced offensive line blocking for him.

Predicted finish: 6-6 (3-6 Pac-12), fifth in the Pac-12 South


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