Coach: Ron McBride
83-57-0, 12 years
2001 Record: 8-4
at Oregon LOST 10-24
at Indiana WON 28-26
at Colorado State LOST 17-19
at UNLV WON 42-14
at Brigham Young LOST 21-24
at Air Force LOST 37-38
Southern Cal WON 10-6

2001 Final Rankings
AP-UR, Coaches-UR, BCS-UR

Lance Rice is not going to win to many games all by himself, but he's emerging a first-rate college quarterback. - (Photo courtesy of University of Utah Sports Information)
2002 Outlook

Simply stated, Utah has to win the big early non-conference games against Indiana (home), Arizona, and Michigan (both away) to have any further success in 2002. If they can win even two out of the three, they could then finish off conference nemeses Air Force, Colorado State, and BYU all at home. With the rest of their schedule seemingly a breeze, this is a stacked deck for a run (scare) at the national title. Ssshhhh. They can play what has usually been BYU's Cinderella role. The defense should keep them in games even when the Ute offense struggles early on. Look for defensive dominance to give the entire team momentum as they again rank high nationally in many categories. This defense need only a modestly effective offense to put Utah atop the MWC and in national polls by mid-season. Seriously, the Ute's conference precludes them from any title shot. So to be the first MWC team in the BCS final eight would be the most to expect. Not far fetched for this squad. Expectations could lead to disappointment, though. The time is now. The bell tolls for thee, Utah.

Projected 2002 record: 9-3

QB - 3.5 DL - 4.5
RB - 2.5 LB - 3.5
WR - 3 DB - 4
OL - 3.5 ..

Passing: Lance Rice, 169-302-11, 2086 Yards, 16 TD's

Rushing: Marty Johnson, 6 att., 95 yds., 1 TD

Receiving: Josh Lyman, 36 rec., 582 yds., 5 TD's

Scoring: Josh Lyman, 5 TD's, 30 pts.

Punting: Brian Lewis, 57 punts, 40.2 avg.

Kicking: none

Tackles: Sheldon Deckart, 86 tot., 39 solo

Sacks: Sheldon Deckart, 5 sacks

Interceptions: Antwoine Sanders, 4 for 69 yds.

Kickoff returns: D'Shaun Crockett, 7 ret., 22.0 avg.

Punt returns: Morgan Scalley, 26 ret., 9.6 avg.


OFFENSE: Thomas Fortune-FB, Dameon Hunter-RB, Doug Kaufusi-OL, Michael Richardson-TE, Cliff Russell-WR, Ed Ta'amu-OL
DEFENSE: C.R. Dwinell-LB, Ma'ake Kemoeatu-DL, Yohance Scott-DB

written by: David Hershorin

Utah's quarterback is a proven leader who doesn't lose games. Too often a young QB will lose games by trying to win them single-handedly, only to doom their promising team to never reach its potential. Only a junior, Lance Rice doesn't have this collegiate problem - he has real potential beyond this level of competition. Rice doesn't try to win the game by himself (under 200yds/game, 11 INT in 2001). Look for his leadership to be the deciding factor against teams that barely beat last year's Utes (BYU won by three points, CSU by two, and Air Force by one! - all road games, too).

Which WR will step up to take departed speedster Cliff Russell's top spot? The good news is there are several possibilities. Junior Josh Lyman (36 rec. second on Utes in 2001) is the obvious choice. He will be hard-pressed by big-man Senior Paris Jackson (6'3" 216lbs) and a fast pair of sophomore wide-outs - Devin Houston and Justin Walterschied. Whoever becomes Rice's go-to-guy(s), any competitive vying will allow Utah to benefit regardless.

The Ute's' biggest task offensively is to re-establish their running game. Losing the three ground weapons which earned 2200 of '01's 2500-plus rushing yards will hurt. But more important than the yards themselves is the size the old unit mustered. The largest projected fullbacks this year are 230lbs and under, a far cry from departed FB Thomas Fortune's 255lb frame, barely more than graduated HB Dameon Hunter's 225. Senior HB Marty Johnson (222lbs) has to prove his one game (6 carries, 95 yards) last year before a season-ending rib injury was no fluke. Team rushing may not match last year's totals of over 200yds/game (ranked 13th in NCAA). But look for the proven passing game and a strong, deep offensive line full of upper-classmen to re-establish an above average ground attack.

An offensive line that yielded only five sacks in 2001 returns three starters. They lost some size here, but 10 or 20 pounds here and there shouldn't add up too much, especially as it will be offset by increased speed and better footwork. Senior LT Jordan Gross will have Rice's back for really the first time as a starter and need not fail his QB. Gross, C Dustin McQuivey (jr.) and RT Sean Souza (jr.) anchor arguably the best MWC corps of offensive big men. The tight end position will also have a seamless transition from departed Michael Richardson (Ute's third leading receiver in 2001) to Matt Hansen (jr.).


Returning Starters in Bold
QB Lance Rice-Jr Ryan Breska-Jr
FB Brandon Bliss-Jr Mike Austin-Fr
TB Marty Johnson-Sr J.R. Peroulis-Sr
WR Josh Lyman-Sr Paris Jackson-Sr
WR Devin Houston-Sr Justin Walterscheid-So
TE Matt Hansen-Jr Ben Allison-Jr
OT Jordan Gross-Sr Makai Aalona-So
OG Chris Kemoeatu-So Jesse Boone-Fr
C Dustin McQulvey-Jr Max Peterson-So
OG Tevita Vakalahi-Sr Kasey Jackson-Sr
OT Sean Souza-Jr Thomas Herrion-Jr
K Ford Hall-Jr ..



written by: David Hershorin

Like so many of my 'connected' friends say, "Forget about it". If you can believe it, the defensive unit should be better than last year! Let's start with the line. Junior DE Jason Kaufusi (12 tackles-for-loss, five sacks in 2001), senior DT Garrett Smith (13 tackles-for-loss, three sacks), and senior DE Josh Savage (seven tackles-for-loss, four sacks)- this is the same bad-ass unit (except for departed Ma'ake Kemoeatu) that started every game of 2001 together. Gee, a wild guess, but expect senior NG Lauvale Sape (11 tackles-for-loss, five sacks in 2001) to pick up any slack. Slack? If and when Senior LB Sheldon Deckart comes to the line-of-scrimmage, any slack left will cease to exist. His additional stats (13 tackles-for-loss, six sacks in 2001) prove that this year's Utes have no excuses up front defensively, run or pass, period.

Like other MWC teams, the linebackers are smaller than at other I-As. This could be a sticking point in early non-conference games with Arizona and Michigan. Experience and speed are there on the outside (two seniors). But size at this position can be critical if the other team's offensive linemen are quick, too. The pivot point will be the MLB - sophomore Zach Tune. His inexperience could be a Ute weak point early on - he is a monster, yet with only eight tackles and no starts in 2001. How quickly Tune gets up to speed will shape Utah's entire defensive character and its 2002 season.
The defensive backfield's only potential weakness is at corner. Smallish Bo Nagahi (5'9", 180lbs- no 2001 starts) is one projected starter. Bo needs to know a lot, quickly, to keep the coverage dominant. Yet, his five passes defended in 2001 were one more than 2002 starting Senior RCB D'Shaun Crockett. And the returning dynamic-duo of junior safeties Antwoine Sanders and Arnold Parker will blanket/crush anything that tries to get behind them. These two and the defensive line will form a core and act together to continually stifle west opponents used to exploiting porous, weak defensive teams.

Special Teams: Statistical fact - if the Utes were only three field goals better last year (8 FGs-14 FGA), they may have gone 11-1, MAYBE. The point is this - at this level, special teams separate the men from the mice. Special teams could be the one area these Utes can markedly improve over last year.


Returning Starters in Bold
DE Josh Savage-Jr Al Johnson-Sr
NT Lauvale Sapa-Sr Steve Fifita-Fr
DT Garrett Smith-Sr Sione Pouha-So
DE Jason Kaufusi-Jr Marcus Jones-Sr
OLB Brooks Bahr-Sr Corey Dodds-So
MLB Zach Tune-So Ray Holdcraft-Jr
OLB Sheldon Deckart-Sr Jeremy Lyman-Sr
CB Bo Nagahi-So Antonio Young-Fr
CB D'Shaun Crockett-Sr Steven Smith-So
SS Arnold Parker-Jr Anthony White-Jr
FS Antwoine Sanders-Jr Dave Revill-Jr
P Brian Lewis-Sr ..

The 303-pound Garrett Smith is possibly the league's best tackle and certainly the quickest player for his size. - (Photo courtesy of University of Utah Sports Information)