WR Brent Casteel

2006 Statistics

Coach: Kyle Whittingham
15-10, 2 years
2006 Record: 8-5
at UCLA LOST 10-31
at Utah State WON 48-0
at San Diego State WON 38-7
TCU WON 20-7
at Wyoming LOST 15-31
at New Mexico LOST 31-34
UNLV WON 45-23
at Air Force WON 17-14
Tulsa WON 25-13

2005 Final Rankings
AP-UR, Coaches-UR, BCS-UR

2007 Outlook

Since head coach Kyle Whittingham took over for Urban Meyer after the Ute’s 12-0 BCS Bowl-winning campaign, his teams have suffered five losses both times. His guys look great for one or two weeks and then vulnerable the next. Getting dangerous and proven dual-threat QB Brian Johnson back from injury, along with every major talent position starter and almost the entire line, will hopefully solve the few woes on that side of the ball…offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig has done more with less. As the former DC, Whittingham needs to get his experienced linebacking corps to deliver in underneath coverage like they do in run support. Adding Aaron Alford (as corners coach) should help shape the Ute’s 80th-ranked secondary for marked improvements. And someone like P/PK Louis Sakoda, who had the Utes rank atop the nation for net punt results, guarantees an upper hand in field position battles. The spring game revealed how big the dropoff is from their main components to their reserves, so health issues would be impacting if widespread, especially with Johnson. Utah just has to put their full potential in motion to give themselves a chance to win weekly. This team still has the capability to keep up with BCS-conference teams when firing on all cylinders, and their ambitious non-conference lineup (at Oregon State, UCLA, and at Louisville) insists upon this or it will be another season that falls short. The ever-improving Mountain West could easily suck Utah into its parity. Moreover, tough trips to No.23 TCU and BYU should be pivotal in resolving the league champion. If they can’t hit the ground already going at full speed, expect a disappointed Swoop and Crimson-and-White faithful.

Projected 2007 record: 8-4
LB Joe Jiannoni
QB - 3.5 DL - 3
RB - 3.5 LB - 3.5
WR - 4.5 DB - 3
OL - 4 ..

Passing: Tommy Grady, 7-14-3, 102 yds., 1 TD

Rushing: Darryl Poston, 145 att., 553 yds., 5 TD

Receiving: Derrek Richards, 60 rec., 717 yds., 6 TD

Scoring: Louie Sakoda, 16-20 FG, 43-43 PAT, 91 pts.

Punting: Louie Sakoda, 59 punts, 44.0 avg.

Kicking: Louie Sakoda, 16-20 FG, 43-43 PAT, 91 pts.

Tackles: Steve Tate, 102 tot., 58 solo

Sacks: Martail Burnett, 5.5 sacks

Interceptions: Steve Tate, Malakai Mokofisi, Brice McCain, Stevenson Sylvester, Joe Jiannoni - 1 each

Kickoff Returns: Brice McCain, 18 ret., 22.4 avg., 0 TD

Punt Returns: Marquis Wilson, 22 ret., 11.2 avg., 0 TD


OFFENSE: Brett Ratliff-QB, Tavo Tupola-OT
DEFENSE: Kelly Talavou-DT, Paul Soliai-NG, Soli Lefiti-DE, Eric Weddle-CB, Shaun Harper-CB, Casey Evans-SS, Eric Shyne-FS, J.J. Williams-LB

Coordinator Andy Ludwig has been dealt a good hand for 2007 since the only major component requiring replacement is at quarterback. How can needing a new QB be good, you ask? Well, when you get the 2005 conference passing leader, Brian Johnson (also was 4th in the nation for total offense and 11th in passing efficiency), back completely healthy from the knee surgery that held him out all of last year, a top 25 ranking is not out of the question. Only 20, this junior has the tools to become the next of Ludwig’s No.1 draft choices (coached David Carr) – he completes nearly two-thirds of his pass attempts and darts through tiny crevasses with his 4.6 second speed in the 40. Johnson also tutored under No.1 pick Alex Smith…expectations are high, as you can see. The drop-back style of 6’7 backup Tommy Grady limits the play calling in this wide-open offense as do his sporadic errors, so don’t be surprised to see dual-threat JUCO-transfer Chad Manis behind center to keep the playbook working for (instead of against) the Utes. It’s the Darryl & Darrell show for what are usually one-back sets. Senior Poston is a slasher with softer hands, but junior Mack can run both by and through defenders as he proved to coaches all spring. Look for productive senior bruiser Mike Liti to also be featured once back from knee surgery. Though the wideouts garner more than just random carries (junior Brent Casteel was team’s second leading rusher) in this spread attack, Utah needs more production from their hulking ground game to balance this offense and make it unstoppable again. The aerial assault sees all six top receivers back, including two All-MWC threats in American Fork-native Derrek Richards and Casteel. Brian Hernandez and Marquis Wilson will battle for the third slot once deep-threat Wilson returns from injury. Juniors Freddie Brown and Bradon Godfrey will each use their 6’3 frames for tough assignments, giving the Utes the league’s most complete and deepest corps. The only question left is whether dangerous DB/WR/TB Sean Smith will get more chances…our eight-ball says “absolutely”. DE Paul Kruger has been a quick study in his return to tight end (where he played in prep) and should challenge senior Matt Sims for both reps and the few touches this position earns. The line only needs to secure senior Jeremy Inferrera at left tackle as it otherwise returns en mass. The right side is stacked with all-conference selections, and senior Kyle Gunther at center will sort out the team’s complex blocking schemes. Getting Johnson back to lead an already gelled group means there is no excuse if Utah fails to average nearly 400 yards and 30+ points per game.


K/P Louie Sakoda


Returning Starters/
Key Players
QB Brian Johnson-Jr (6-1, 210) Tommy Grady-Sr (6-7, 235)
RB Darryl Poston-Sr (5-11, 200) Darrell Mack-Jr (6-0, 219)
Ray Stowers-Jr (6-0, 223)
WR Derrek Richards-Sr (5-11, 175) Freddie Brown-Jr (6-3, 207)
WR Brent Casteel-Jr (5-10, 193) Bradon Godfrey-Jr (6-3, 197)
WR Brian Hernandez-Sr (6-0, 183) Marquis Wilson-Jr (5-11, 170)
TE Matt Sims-Sr (6-1, 251) Colt Sampson-Jr (6-4, 250)
OT Jeremy Inferrera-Sr (6-3, 296) Walter Watts-Fr (6-2, 300)
OG Zane Beadles-So (6-4, 312) Caleb Schlauderauff-Fr (6-5, 300)
C Kyle Gunther-Sr (6-4, 304) Tyler Williams-So (6-1, 295)
OG Robert Conley-Jr (6-1, 316) Zane Taylor-Fr (6-3, 305)
OT Jason Boone-Sr (6-4, 300) Dustin Hensel-Jr (6-7, 320)
K Louie Sakoda-Jr (5-10, 178) Ben Vroman-So (5-11, 187)



All-conference free safety Steve Tate takes over the backfield leadership role of Eric Weddle, and this heady 24-year old senior (LDS mission) proved why he was once Utah’s (prep) Mr. Football by leading the team in tackles last year. But despite losing a total of four major components from the secondary, we see the hiring of new corners coach Aaron Alford (away from Akron, no doubt) as a smart step toward solving the erratic performance of the Ute’s 80th-ranked pass defense. Brice McCain, a junior all-MWC selection at corner whose consistency grounds his side, finds 6’3 phenom Steve Smith his opposite and looking more like Weddle (than Tate) with his athleticism and ability to smack ball carriers (just ask Casteel). The battle between JUCO-transfer DeShawn Richards and Joe Dale for the strong safety slot will go on into the fall, something that will benefit Utah as their competition pushes each to their full potential. The turnover and offseason progress amongst the DBs will actually help them to improve the overall result here. The linebackers have assignments, but coach Whittingham likes for his three best guys to be out there, often shuffling who-goes-where due to the all-around talent available and Utah’s need to reformulate for better underneath coverage. Kyle Brady, who started at “rover” before seeing extensive action at “stud”, moves back to RLB while former walk-on Mokofisi (stud) and all-MWC Jiannoni (middle) round out this well-sized, all-senior crew. Svelter super soph Stevenson Sylvester has been pushing for a permanent starting slot, but there is little development behind him for what proved to be a marginal (at best) effort here last year. All-league “open” end Martail Burnett is a great rebuilding block for the vacated line, one which boasted the 22nd ranking for run stopping. Experienced backups Alex Puccinelli and Greg Newman are being pushed by Koa Misi, a JUCO-transfer, for the other start at end, making this a promising two-deep. Senior Gabe Long finally gets the well deserved start at nose tackle, offset by proven sophomore Kenape Eliapo after he beat out Zeke Wiley and Pauli Latu in a competitive spring. The new-look line will likely take little time until it performs like last season’s group, and that might mean more sacks. The Utes cannot afford another rollercoaster ride on this side of the ball – consistency has to be their main goal after all five foes who broke through the 30-point barrier in ’06 beat them. Progress this offseason looks promising, though.


DB Steve Tate


Returning Starters/
Key Players
DE Martail Burnett-Sr (6-3, 262) Alex Puccinelli-Sr (6-2, 252)
DT Kenape Eliapo-So (6-0, 303) Zeke Tuinei-Wily-So (6-4, 308)
NG Gabe Long-Sr (6-3, 290) Casey Sutera-Sr (6-3, 266)
DE Paul Kruger-Fr (6-5, 248) Greg Newman-Jr (6-4, 260)
SLB Malakai Mokofisi-Sr (6-2, 243) Kyle Brady-Sr (6-1, 234)
MLB Joe Jiannoni-Sr (6-0, 235) Mike Wright-So (6-2, 225)
RLB Stevenson Sylvester-So (6-2, 210) Matt Martinez-Fr (6-0, 230)
CB Brice McCain-Jr (5-9, 189) Mookie Murphy-Fr (5-9, 167)
CB Sean Smith-So (6-3, 217) Elijah Wesson-So (5-11, 175)
Justin Jones-So (5-10, 170)
SS Joe Dale-So (5-11, 197) Deshawn Richard-Jr (6-1, 196)
FS Steve Tate-Sr (5-11, 195) R.J. Rice-Jr (5-8, 183)
P Louie Sakoda-Jr (5-10, 178) Ben Vroman-So (5-11, 187)




Junior Louie Sakoda, co-Special Teams Player of the Year for the Mountain West Conference, should be an All-American after more than half of his punts came down inside the 20 and just under one-third were fair catches. It all equaled the county’s best net results. He is pretty solid as a placekicker, but David Carroll has been vying for a look here, and distance is needed after Sakoda’s longest field goal was 45 yards. We are not sure why Marquis Wilson isn’t listed as a punt returner with his 11.2 yard average, but unheralded Brian Hernandez seems to have the nod there while Casteel and McCain will again share duties as the Ute kick returners.