1. In a crazy, crazy Pac-12 year, Utah Stands alone as the only undefeated team in the conference and a top 5 team in the nation. What is like having the target on your back and how is the team handling their front runner status?
For fans, it's definitely a little bit strange, especially now being a Pac-12 school. When we were in the Mountain West, we were always targeted back then, but we haven't had that since joining the conference. Fans are fans, and even when the team has the target on their backs, they will play the ‘disrespect' card. For the team, I don't think they're looking at it that way. Kyle Whittingham will always play the underdog roll. This week, the Utes are underdogs by Vegas, and they are always on upset alert by the talking heads, so the coaching staff will let them know about that.
2. At Pac-12 Media Day in the summer almost every coach in the conference (if not all of them) picked Utah as the team they did not want to play, yet just about everyone had the Utes finishing near the bottom of the Pac-12 South, what is special about this year's squad that moved them from near the bottom of the division to near the top of the national rankings?
It's a team full of great senior leadership. The guys on the team have went through a lot of highs and lows since being on the team, and now as seniors they experience is starting to show through. They have a senior QB, senior running back, an experience offensive line, and plenty of seniors on defense, and when you put that together, with plenty of talent (Devontae Booker, Gionni Paul, etc), you get the results that are happening now.
3 .If you had to draw up a game plan to defeat Utah what would it look like?
It'll be tough to beat Utah, just because the defense and special teams are so damn good. So it will have to be a low scoring game. You have to stop Devontae Booker, and press Utah's wide outs, really compressing the field and throwing lanes. ASU didn't think Travis Wilson could beat them, and that's exactly what he did. But when it comes to picking your poison, having Travis Wilson throw is better than having Booker drain your soul and run all over you.
4. Many people suggest that Utah Head Coach Kyle Whittingham is a potential candidate for the USC vacancy, but he has been in Utah for a very long time. Is there any realistic possibility he'd even consider leaving Utah for ANY team including the Trojans?
Is it a possibility? Sure, it is a realistic possibility, I don't really think so. He has the program running in the right direction, he's the king of SLC, and he'll be in line for a big raise this off season. I don't think Coach Whitt would fit the ‘SC job, just because he's such a low key guy, and he's all about football. Being in Hollywood, and with all that comes with that just doesn't fit Whitt's profile. I think he'll entertain phone calls from other programs, but primarily as negotiating leverage to help his staff get raises at Utah.
5. Vegas has Utah as the underdog in this game is this fair or absurd to you and why?
I go back and forth on this, because I think it should probably be Utah -3, especially being the No. 3 team in the country, and undefeated, while USC has laid some serious eggs. But I get why Vegas has USC as a favorite. It's at home, Utah hasn't won there since the early 1900s, and USC always has a ton of talent. Plus, as I alluded to earlier, I'm happy their underdogs, because that gives the coaches material to help the Utes really focus in.
6. Quarterback Travis Wilson or Running Back Devontae Booker, which is more critical to Utah's success?
Travis Wilson, because Booker's going to get his, he's that good. But Utah needs Travis to play a clean, efficient game to make people pay for crowding the box to slow Booker down. Just watch the ASU game, Booker was held in check by-in-large, and Wilson made them pay, and was the key factor for Utah winning that game.
7. Are the Utah Utes a legitimate playoff contender? If not, which teams do you see derailing the Utah?
They are a legit playoff contender, for sure. When you have as good of a defense and special teams as Utah, you have a chance. Especially if Utah keeps doing what they're doing in the Pac-12. The beauty of it, also, is Utah can take a loss (maybe two), and as long as they win the Pac-12, they're in the conversation. However, Utah has a ton of landmines still ahead of them, including USC, Arizona, and UCLA.
8. What is one thing the rest of the world seems to be ignorant of regarding Utah Football?
Utah's going to be that silent killer for a lot of people. They won't ever get the preseason love or anything like that. But the culture for Utah football is huge, and I think we're just getting started in SLC.