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What the Utah Utes must be wary of when facing Pac-12 North Division foes in 2022

The Utes will face Oregon, Oregon State, Washington State and Stanford from the North in 2022

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Utah Utes quarterback Cam Rising, wearing grey, runs out of bounds with Oregon Ducks defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux, wearing white.

Utah quarterback Cam Rising runs out of bounds with Oregon Ducks defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux giving chase during a game at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021. The Utes and Ducks meet Ducks Nov. 19, in Eugene.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

This article was first published in the Ute Insiders newsletter. Sign up to receive the newsletter in your inbox each Wednesday night.

Even though the Pac-12 announced earlier this spring that it is changing the way it determines the two participants in the Pac-12 football championship game, which will now go to the two teams with the highest conference winning percentage rather than the division champs, there is still need to take note of the North.

Utah football beat writer Jeff Call broke down the six teams from the North Division, four of which the Utes will face in 2022.

Call’s previews of the six teams in the South Division will be highlighted in next week’s edition.

Here are a few quick takeaways from his North Division team previews:

California: “The number of guys who have taken a huge leap forward from last year to now has been really impressive. And we’re going to have a number of new starters on both sides of the ball but we feel good about the talent on the roster.” — Cal coach Justin Wilcox (per Pac-12 Network). Read more.

Oregon: “When I got here, we spent our time focusing on connection. If we want to be an elite team, we have to be tight. There has to be a brotherhood. That doesn’t happen unless you spend time on it.” — first-year coach Oregon Dan Lanning. Read more.

Oregon State: “What we return on the offensive line, the athleticism, the veterans in that group, they’ve had a great spring. It starts up front and we feel we have a good group of O-linemen.” — Oregon State coach Jonathan Smith (per Pac-12 Network). Read more.

Stanford: “We want him to take that next step. He’s had an outstanding spring. He hasn’t had his top targets at receiver or tight end.” — Stanford coach David Shaw about quarterback Tanner McKee (per The Athletic). Read more.

Washington: “We’re continuing to work on our roster, just trying to make it stronger with relationships and do the best we can to show the roles that guys can have in this program, even if it’s not at the level they want it to be at this point in their careers.” — Washington coach Kalen DeBoer (per Pac-12 Network). Read more.

Washington State: “Eric’s one of the brightest offensive minds in the country. Adding a tight end to our game adds to our multiplicity and allows us to use tempo and defenses are going to have to prepare for us week to week. We’re still going to have an exciting offense and one that Coug fans love, throwing the ball.” — Washington State coach Jake Dickert on new offensive coordinator Eric Morris (per Pac-12 Network). Read more.

In case you missed it

Utah basketball beat writer Jay Drew wrote an excellent, in-depth article on new Runnin’ Utes assistant coach Chris Burgess, who spent the previous three years on Mark Pope’s staff at BYU.

Burgess, a former Utes player and graduate assistant, who began his career at Duke before transferring to Utah, explains what led to his decision to return to his alma mater and join Craig Smith’s staff.

Numbers game

3: How many new 2023 football commitments Utah has so far.

6 million: How much Utah coach Kyle Whittingham will make in 2022 by virtue of his amended contract, which was revealed Wednesday.

From the archives

Extra points

Fanalyst

Comments from Deseret News readers

Some interesting facts and opinions, but the point is clear ... repeating as conference champs is tough. I am leery to make any early call. USC will be a huge game and potential roadblock, but it is at home. What really worries me is the the two road games to end the season the first of which is in Eugene against what I should imagine will be a very motivated team after the Utes drubbed them twice last season. New coaching regimes for the Trojans and the Ducks does not mean much at this point. Talent does mean something and these will arguably be the most talented teams in the Pac-12. But the Utes have talent and a sound coaching staff and will be good. First up, the ‘Gators!!! Go Utes!!!

— stathis

Having a top tier RB like Thomas means teams are going to be stacking the box with 8+ man fronts a ton testing our WRs/TEs.

I fully expect guys like Kincaid, Kuithe, Vele, and Cope to reap the benefits of man to man coverage a large percentage of the time with maybe only one deep safety. If Dixon can become more consistent at catching the deep ball, this offense could be better than last year’s. Top 25 offense and defense is not out of the question for this team. A lot will depend on health and depth, but the talent and scheme is there.

— brian of ohio

Up next

Sept. 3 | 5 p.m. | Football | vs. Florida | @Gainesville, Florida | ESPN