Utah spring wrap

2009 overall record: 10-3

2009 conference record: 6-2

Returning starters

Offense: 8, Defense: 4, Punter/Kicker: 2

Top returners

RB Eddie Wide, RB Matt Asiata, WR Jereme Brooks, OL Zane Taylor, OL Caleb Schlauderaff, QB Jordan Wynn, DB Brandon Burton, DT Sealver Siliga, K Joe Phillips, P Sean Sellwood

Key losses

OL Zane Beadles, DB Robert Johnson, DL Koa Misi, LB Stevenson Sylvester, WR David Reed, DB R.J. Stanford, LB Mike Wright

2009 statistical leaders (* denotes returners)

Rushing: *Eddie Wide (1,069 yards)

Passing: *Jordan Wynn (1,329 yards), *Terrance Cain (1,624 yards)

Receiving: David Reed (1,188 yards)

Tackles: Stevenson Sylvester (81)

Sacks: *Christian Cox (5.5)

Interceptions: Robert Johnson (6)

Spring answers

1. Reloading at receiver: The Utes lost three of their starting four receivers from last year, but Brooks returns as the leader and the Utes got quality performances out of former quarterback DeVonte Christopher and newcomer Griffin McNabb. Coach Kyle Whittingham said he’s still looking for depth at the receiver position, but he likes the direction the receivers are headed.

2. Defensive line looks deep: There was some concern about the defensive line heading into this spring, but Sealver Siliga, Dave Kruger, Neil A’asa, James Aiono, Junior Tui’one and Latu Heimuli seemed to have solidified a line that will be the strongest area of the defense this fall. The Utes also got unexpected help from defensive end Trevor Reilly, who could be a factor in the fall.

3. Replacing Robert: Brandon Burton returns at the cornerback position and Lamar Chapman, who started at the nickelback position last year, will start on the other side, replacing Robert Johnson. Conroy Black will be another asset at cornerback, as well. All three players are among the fastest on the team.

Fall questions

1. Linebackers lacking experience: The Utes lost all of their stellar linebackers from a year ago and took a big hit when Nai Fotu suffered a season-ending knee injury. J.J. Williams had a good spring and former quarterback Chad Mannis likely will be in the starting rotation. Chaz Walker and Matt Martinez got some much-needed reps with Fotu out. There’s some good depth at linebacker, but the experience is lacking.

2. Safeties are still a concern: Senior Justin Taplin-Ross was the only safety on the roster with game experience. He had a good spring and was supposed to be joined by Chris Washington, who missed the 2009 season with an injury. But Washington was injured during the spring and missed the final weeks of spring practice, leaving the safety position up for grabs.

3. Still looking for a returner: Shaky Smithson should be the top returner once he’s fully recovered from offseason surgery, but during the spring, players such as Brandon Burton and Griffin McNabb took a shot at returns. The Utes were in the middle of the pack in the Mountain West in both kick and punt returns and are hoping to improve on that number in 2010.