Utes out to prove critics wrong after being picked 5th in Pac-12 South

HOLLYWOOD, Calif. (ABC 4 Sports) - After back to back losing seasons, the Utah football team is under tremendous pressure to turn the program around as it enters it's 4th season in the Pac-12 Conference.

But the Utes aren't getting much preseason respect, as they were picked to finish 5th in the Pac-12 South Division.

There's no question what was first and foremost on the Utes minds during Pac-12 Media Day in Hollywood, California.

"Bowl game," said senior wide receiver Dres Anderson. 

It's been a two-year bowl game drought for the Utes, missing out on the postseason in back to back seasons for the first time in 15 years.

"We've got to get to a bowl game," Anderson said. "We've been so close the past two years and we have to get back there. Our university prides itself on going to bowl games and winning them."

"It's frustrating," added defensive end Nate Orchard. "We work so hard in the off-season, during the season, taking time away from our family and friends. At the end of the year, going to a bowl game means a lot."

Utah came up one win short in both 2012 and 2013. Last year, they started strong by winning four of its first six games, but lost five of its final six and finished with a 5-7 record for the second consecutive season.

"We've been competitive, but nobody wants to hear about being competitive," said head coach Kyle Whittingham, who is entering his 10th season at the helm. "It's all about the W's and the L's. So, we've got to get over that hump. Last year, we thought we had done just that with our big win at home over Stanford. It just wasn't the case. We hit the skids right after that game."

The Utes have several key returning starters, including quarterback Travis Wilson, who was cleared to return to action after a brain condition was discovered last November.

"He's the number one guy going in," Whittingham said about Wilson. "There will be a competition at that position just like every other position. But, it was great news when Travis got the clean bill of health and was cleared to play football again. We were on pins and needles up until the point, not really for football's sake, but for Travis' sake just making sure that he was OK."

The Utes kick the 2014 season off against Idaho State on August 28th.

More Stories

Don't Miss

Latest News

Video Center