The 10th of 12 quick updates on offseason Pac-12 goings on.
Utah in a sentence
Not only is Utah representing the "non-AQ have-nots" as it becomes a new "AQ have," more than a few folks believe it has the depth and talent to challenge for the Pac-12 South Division crown in Year 1.
The big issue
It's always a concern to be completely rebuilding a secondary, but it's an even bigger issue in a conference that's loaded with NFL talent at quarterback.
Quick hit news
Quarterback Jordan Wynn has been on a "pitch count" after sitting out spring practices following shoulder surgery. But when he's thrown, he's thrown well, and Wynn and his coaches insist he'll be 100 percent full-go by the start of the season.
The offensive line has taken some hits during preseason camp. Starting left guard Sam Brenner is out two weeks with an elbow injury. Vyncent Jones has stepped into his spot with the first-team offense. Backup right tackle Percy Taumoelau is nursing a knee injury of uncertain serverity, while backup left guard Isaac Asiata is out three to four weeks with an ankle injury. Daniel Nielson (concussion) and converted defensive tackle Latu Heimuli (thumb) also are out.
True freshman Eric Rowe is listed as the co-starter at both safety positions, joining Michael Walker at strong safety and Keith McGill at free safety.
Linebacker/defensive end Nai Fotu was suspended after getting a DUI last winter, but it appears he will be reinstated at some point, perhaps the beginning of the season. Fotu missed 2010 with a knee injury but he's started nine games in his career and is certain to see significant action. He's listed as the backup at "stud" linebacker -- behind Brian Blechen -- on the latest depth chart.
Defensive back Damian Payne, a redshirt freshman, has left the team to deal with a personal matter.
Two incoming offensive linemen Po'u Palelei and Benji Kemoeatu didn't qualify academically.
Lots of staff changes in the offseason, including Norm Chow bolting UCLA to take over the offense. With Chow's arrival, 2010 co-offensive coordinators Dave Schramm and Aaron Roderick took a step back. Schramm is now the running backs coach and Roderick coaches receivers. Chow is coaching tight ends. Tim Davis took over as offensive line coach. Chad Kauha’aha’a took over the defensive line after John Pease retired.
Utah is 8-1 in bowl games since 2001, including a 2-0 mark in BCS bowl games. The Utes have finished ranked in the top 25 five times in the past eight years, including a No. 2 finish in 2008 and No. 4 finish in 2004. In the past eight years, the Utes have averaged 9.9 wins a season.
Since the BCS began in 1998, Utah is 22-12 vs. AQ schools, best of any non-AQ program. The Utes have won seven of their past 10 games against Pac-10 teams and are 3-2 in bowl games vs. the old Pac-10.