The distrust of the Utah Utes football reclamation program continues among national media -- as an article on ESPN.com on Thursday, March 27 stated the Utes defense will be no better than fifth-best in the Pac-12 South Division.
Reporter Ted Miller said that each team in the division has three headed monsters -- namely a leading tackler, a leader in sacks and a leader in interceptions.
Using that criteria, Miller added the Utes have two of the three "monsters," such as Miami transfer Gionni Paul who is “drawing raves this spring,” as well as Jacoby Hale (Trevor Reilly’s replacement).
Miller’s reasoning behind the Utes’ fifth place standing in his poll is due to a lack of a play maker in the secondary. He tabs Eric Rowe as possibly being that guy -- never mind that if safety Brian Blechen is healthy, the former All-American will probably be the third "monster." (Miller doesn’t mention Blechen in his article.)
Named ahead of the Utes were USC, UCLA and even Arizona, the latter program allowing 24 points per game last year and over 400 yards per contest -- 233 of those through the air.
Utah defensive coordinator Kalani Sitake told The Salt Lake Tribune on Thursday that the main goal for the Utes is to improve on last year's record.
"There’s a lot more urgency to get a lot more done," he said to Tribune reporter Gordon Monson in an interview. "We have to do it all right now. The only way to fix that is to win games and get to a bowl game. That’s our goal. We want to get better as a team and get better as a defense. That’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to utilize all the practice time, put on the pads, and we’re going to hit and get better. For us, you’re going to have to hit and fight and claw and compete with each other. That only happens when you take the field and take it serious."
The Utes’ once proud defense was ranked 36th in the nation last year, allowing 363 yards per game.