SALT LAKE CITY — August 29th cannot come soon enough.
Utah football get its chance to avenge last season's overtime loss to Utah State.
Utah State lost a few players in the offseason, including two players that were drafted into the NFL. Kerwynn Williams and Will Davis were big performers on the 2012 squad but the 2013 squad is also very talented.
Chuckie Keeton is back for his junior season and will have to deal with expectations. He is on the 30-man preseason Heisman list which will give the 2013 Utah defense plenty of motivation (if there wasn't enough already).
The Aggies running game is led by Joe Hill but for the first season in a while, there is a lack of depth at that position.
Perhaps the biggest unknown for the Aggies is at wide receiver. Chuck Jacobs and Matt Austin graduated and and pardon the pun but this position group as of right now is...wide open.
The offensive line is returning all five starters. The combination of that with Keeton is possibly lethal for opposing defenses. The line is anchored by center Tyler Larsen who will play in the NFL. This will be a huge test for Utah's defensive line which is replacing three of four starters including 14th overall draft pick Star Lotulelei.
The defense for Utah state also has to be categorized as a strength. The front seven lost Bojay Filimoeatu and Al Lauphalo but there was depth there and they could be better than they were last year. Add Kyler Fackrell at outside linebacker, Brian Suite and Nevin Lawson in the defensive backfield and the Utah State defense will be ready for Utah.
While that sounds like Utah State might win the National Championship, remember this...it took an absolute overtime miracle to beat the Utes last year. Utah was playing a division two quarterback after Jordan Wynn got hurt.
Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham hired Dennis Erickson to lead the offense and that will completely change the mentality and will give the Utes an actual identity. By that first game the Utes will know who they are and what they are trying to do. That is something that did not happen until even very late in the season last year.
The defense has to replace many things, including 75% of the defensive line, but Whittingham and the Utes often put guys in the NFL and guys like Tenny Palepoi and Nate Orchard will step up.
Gary Andersen is no longer in Logan and while Matt Wells might be great, this is his first rodeo in Logan against a seasoned veteran in Kyle Whittingham and add Erickson to that game plan, it can only help.
Football season is only 99 days away.
***I would like to thank Matt Glade, the Utah State beat writer for ksl.com for help on this article.