LAS VEGAS — "A quiet, uneventful summer." That's how Utah coach Kyle Whittingham opened his remarks at the Mountain West Conference Football Media Day at the Red Rock Resort.

The deadpan delivery underscored his eagerness to open camp and get ready for the upcoming season — the Utes' final campaign in the MWC before moving on to Pac-10.

"We're excited to get going," Whittingham said.

And with good reason. The Utes are brimming with confidence on both sides of the ball.

"Oh my gosh. This spring ball was the best that I've ever seen our offense, ever. We are completely loaded at every position. If you ask me to tell you our biggest weakness, I couldn't tell you what it is because I don't know what it is," said senior center Zane Taylor, one of four Utes named to the MWC's all-preseason team. "Offensively, I'm just totally excited to be a part of it this season because it's going to be unlike any offense we've seen in the last few years."

Eight starters return on offense. The cast includes Taylor and other preseason honorees — offensive lineman Caleb Schlauderaff and running back Eddie Wide — as well as quarterback Jordan Wynn, wide receiver Jereme Brooks, tight end Kendrick Moeai, plus linemen Tevita Stevens and Tony Bergstrom.

Although only four starters return on defense, there are plenty of guys who saw significant action as reserves.

"I feel real confident. The guys that we have coming in are just as talented, if not more talented, than the guys that left," said junior Brandon Burton, Utah's lone defender on the MWC all-preseason team. "So I'm not worried about any drop-off really. I just know we'll get it done. We've always got it done."

Besides Burton, the Utes' other returning starters on defense include left end Derrick Shelby, tackle Sealver Siliga and nose tackle Dave Kruger.

The underclassmen are expected to be joined by other youngsters in the starting lineup this fall.

Taylor insists that isn't a bad thing.

"I know our defense is going to do great things even though it's a bunch of young guys," he said. "I'm telling you, I know from practice all these guys are just as legit as the starters from last year. So we're going to have a loaded defense as well."

Burton agrees. Many of last season's backups, he explained, played a lot.

"They know the system. They know what they're doing," Burton said. "So that's why I'm pretty confident going into this year that they'll get the job done."

Confidence is in no short supply with the Utes, even after they were picked to finish second behind TCU in the conference's annual preseason media poll.

"TCU is a great, great team, and I think they deserve that and everything, but our goal is to take them down," Taylor said. "It's our place to win (Nov. 6 at Rice-Eccles Stadium)."

Preseason stuff like polls, he continued, doesn't mean a lot.

"We try not to pay too much attention to it — whether it's good or bad — because we just want to go out and win games," Taylor said.

The season is fast approaching. The Utes, who'll host Pittsburgh on Sept. 2, open camp next week.

The MWC meetings serve as notice that the time is near.

"It gives you a sense that the season is coming real fast," Burton said. "All the hard work and everything that you've put in this summer is about to show in the fall."

With this year's gathering moved to the third week of July instead of the second, Whittingham noted that things are really kicking off.

"Now it definitely signifies the start of the season," he said.

Rivalry the same?

LAS VEGAS — BYU head football coach Bronco Mendenhall was asked about Utah's departure to the Pac-10 in 2011. He said the Cougars were not really surprised or hurt by the decision. It will, though, most likely impact the rivalry.

"There's an acknowledgement that the future will be different from past history," Mendenhall said. "There's no way the rivalry can remain the same when you consider both teams not being in the same league, and the game not being played the last one of the season with a conference championship on the line. I'm not saying the rivalry goes away, but saying a change is likely."

e-mail: dirk@desnews.com