Utah Football debuts its highest-ever Preason ranking, BYU at No. 25

Utah Football debuts its highest-ever Preason ranking, BYU at No. 25

Utes was ranked 8th in last week’s inaugural AFCA Coaches Poll.

(Hunter Dyke | Utah Athletics) Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham speaks to his team Wednesday, August 3, 2022 during soccer practice in Salt Lake City.

| Aug 15, 2022 at 4:04 p.m

| Updated August 16, 2022 at 12:04 am

The University of Utah will open its season on September 3 at the University of Florida, which ranks in the top 10 in both national polls.

The Utes, 10-4 overall winners and last season’s first-time Pac-12 champions, debuted Monday morning at No. 7 in the Associated Press preseason top 25. This is the sixth time Utah has been ranked by the AP in the preseason. which has been producing a pre-season poll since 1950.

The AP ranking comes a week after Utah appeared at No. 8 in the inaugural AFCA Coaches Poll. At the time, #8 was the highest preseason ranking in program history.

Oregon checked in 11th Monday while USC was 14th. Utah will host the Trojans on October 15 at Rice-Eccles Stadium and later travel to Eugene to face the Ducks on November 19.

Meanwhile, BYU crept in at No. 25 in the AP poll after being left out of the Coaches poll. The Cougars are the third new Big 12 member to rank, after Cincinnati (No. 23) and Houston (No. 24). The Cougars will begin Big 12 play in 2023.

BYU’s home opening opponent, Baylor, checked in at No. 10 in the AP poll. The week after, BYU will be out against the aforementioned Ducks.

Four BYU opponents start the season in the rankings. Notre Dame, who BYU will play Oct. 8 in Las Vegas, ranks fifth in both the Coaches and AP polls. Arkansas is ranked 19th after being 21st in the first Coaches Poll.

Utah State, BYU’s Week 5 matchup, received two votes.

QB2 nor TBD

Utah coach Kyle Whittingham has said several times over the past two weeks that he hopes his backup quarterback is done after the first scrimmage.

That schedule has been extended as Whittingham was unwilling to choose between Bryson Barnes and Ja’Quinden Jackson on Monday. This camp competition will now drag into this weekend when the Utes are due to face off for the second and final time.

“Both had excellent scrimmages and they’re the two guys that go against each other, it’s entirely up to them to be No. 2,” Whittingham said. “We’ll have an answer from the next scrimmage, just how we’re going to tackle it.”

Offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig added: “The two are still fighting through, both guys are competing very hard and we’re in a good situation right now. We probably want to make a formal decision after the next scrimmage and give these guys another week of work.”

Eight offensive linemen in the mix after the first scrimmage

After Utah played for the first time on Saturday, offensive line coach Jim Harding said Monday afternoon he believes he has eight players to go into the season with barring injuries.

Harding suggested the starting right tackle job between Jaren Kump and Falcon Kaumatale is yet to be won. Kump, who is recovering from knee surgery at the end of the season, is considered the favorite, although Harding pointed out that Kump is rusty, having only trained 10 times in the past 10 months.

“These 10 exercises have been since we got back,” Harding said on a Zoom call. “After injuring himself at the end of September, and certainly through spring training, he was doing footwork in his back and doing everything he could.

“It was certainly not his own fault, but the bottom line is that he only trained for 10 days. The child has an extremely high care factor, great work ethic. He’s in the top eight, he’s pushing for the top five.”

Another undetermined spot is in the middle, where the Utes are monitoring a fight between Paul Maile and Johnny Maea, according to Harding.

That would mean seven of the top eight are Braeden Daniels, Keaton Bills, Sataoa Laumea, Kump, Kaumatule, Maile and Maea. Daniels, Bills (left guard) and Laumea (right guard) are all officiating starters, although Daniels switches from right tackle to left tackle.