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Pac-12 football media day is in the books. Pac-12 officials, players and coaches descended on Los Angeles last Friday for question-and-answer sessions. Much of the focus focused on what’s going on off the field in terms of realignment issues.

But now, the focus is turning to what’s happening on the field.

Utah, looking to defend its Pac-12 title and picked to repeat by the media, opened fall camp Wednesday in preparation for the 2022 season. The Utes kick off the campaign at Florida on Sept. 3.

Throughout the offseason, that game has commanded the players’ and coaches’ full attention.

“We’ve seen it starting in January that these guys have been working their tails off getting ready for this game,” said coach Kyle Whittingham. “Carried into spring ball, summer conditioning. When you have an opener like that, like we said, we have to be able to hit the ground running. Our guys are aware of that. It certainly makes the focus and the work ethic in the offseason a very easy thing to achieve because of the opening opponent.”

There’s a lot of high expectations for the program. Is another Rose Bowl appearance in the cards? Could the Utes contend for a spot in the College Football Playoff? Or even a national championship?

Utah has quarterback in Cam Rising returning so there are no questions about who the starter is at that position. But there will be some intriguing position battles, particularly on the offensive line and defensive line. And there will be plenty of scrutiny at linebacker, where the Utes lost first-round draft pick Devin Lloyd, but he’s expected to be replaced by Florida transfer Mohamoud Diabate.

After a long offseason, we’re just 30 days away from Utah starting the football season. The countdown is on.

In case you missed it

Former Utah receiver/kick return extraordinaire Britain Covey is participating in training camp with the Philadelphia Eagles. Before going to camp, Covey discussed a variety of topics with the Deseret News, from his chances of making the roster to the nickname he’s received from Eagles teammates to what he expects from Utah’s program this season.

Numbers game

2: Number of times Utah has been picked to win the Pac-12 since joining the league in 2011.

26: Number of first-place votes Utah received, out of 33, in the 2022 media preseason Pac-12 poll.

From the archives

Related
Why the Utah-Florida season opener is big for both schools — and both coaches
‘That championship is not ours’: Five storylines to follow as Utes begin defense of Pac-12 title
‘We’re picking up where we left off’: A veteran Utah team opens fall camp

Extra points

  • The latest on the Utah Utes’ 2023 recruiting class (Deseret News)
  • What needs to happen for Utah to win the national title? (Deseret News)
  • These players with Utah ties have been named to college football award watch lists (Deseret News)
  • Leanne Wong just showed that the jump from elite gymnastics to college and back again might be the future (Deseret News)
  • Why Utah’s season opener at Florida is so crucial for the Utes — and the Pac-12 (Deseret News)
  • What do Pac-12 coaches think about USC and UCLA bolting the league? (Deseret News)
  • ‘We haven’t decided if we’re going shopping there’: George Kliavkoff fires back at Pac-12 media day (Deseret News)
  • ‘We’re unified. It makes sense for us to stay together’: Utah AD Mark Harlan addresses changes, future of Pac-12 (Deseret News)
  • ‘A big opportunity here for me’: How Utah coach Craig Smith landed Wisconsin transfer Ben Carlson (Deseret News)

Fanalyst

This will be a new test for Whittingham. When he was new, he could get the teams up for the big game but then lost to teams he shouldn’t. Then, he figured out how to be more consistent. He mostly won the games he should and then won a few he probably shouldn’t. Now, we will see if he can get his team to work hard when they have a crown on their head. That will ultimately be the difference between a football team which is respected and one that is feared.

— Kameloen

I find it interesting that Klaivkoff takes aim at the BigXII, not the B1G. That is likely because he clearly sees the writing on the wall and the imminent threat to his conference. The PAC South teams have no other option — and just be grateful that you aren’t Oregon State or Washington State that probably have the MWC as the only viable option.

— josh from London

On paper this is going to be a banner year for recruiting, and the coaches deserve kudos for that, while fans can be encouraged by it. But as we all know the final grade comes later when we see how players develop and play the game ... and who who sticks around these days. That said, the U. is now bringing in and developing talent on a new level ... the Pac-12 Championship, and a pretty good showing in the Rose Bowl are proof of that, as are the number of Utes in the NFL But it is a continuing process which never ends really. And, yes, joining the Pac-12 has both helped in recruiting, but also demands recruiting on the next level. BYU is about to learn this as it joins the Big 12. For now, this is all good. Go Utes!

— stathis

Up next

Aug. 10 | 7 p.m. | Soccer | vs. Idaho State | @Salt Lake City

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

Utah football coach Kyle Whittingham looks on during first day of fall camp at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City Wednesday, Aug. 3. 2022. | Hunter Dyke, Utah Athletics