Utah has the benefit of a favorable schedule, a weak Pac-12 South Division and experience at key positions as it attempts to challenge mighty USC for the division title.
But there are some key positions that remained unresolved early in Utes training camp. Here's a look at three of them.
Offensive tackle: Percy Taumoelau vs. Daniel Nielson vs. Carlos Lozano vs. J.J. Dielman vs. Kala Friel vs. Jeremiah Poutasi vs. Miles Mason.
The tackles are Utah's top concern, coach Kyle Whittingham said at Pac-12 media day.
When you see the number of players in the mix for starting roles, you understand why. Taumoelau, a junior who plays the left side, and Nielson, a freshman who plays the right side both got a lot of snaps in spring ball but neither impressed. Lozano is a junior college transfer so little is known about his abilities early in camp. Freshmen Dielman, Friel and Poutasi are also in the mix. Mason joined the team late in 2011 but immediately assumed the starting left guard spot. He's now being listed as a starter on the right side.
Tight end: Kendrick Moeai vs. Jake Murphy vs. Dallin Rogers vs. David Rolf
The Utes love the way Rolf played after he made the switch from defensive end during the 2011 season. An injury during the spring limited him, but he has proven to be a reliable target and could be used more as Utah transitions to more of a spread offense. Rogers is a good red-zone threat who was injured part of 2011. Murphy may develop into the best all-around player at this position why Moeai is a good depth guy.
Linebacker: V.J. Fehoko vs. Jacoby Hale vs. Jared Norris vs. LT Filiaga
The Utes lost their two leading tacklers in Chaz Walker (115) and Matt Martinez (85) from a defensive front seven that may have been the best in the Pac-12 last season. Aside from returning junior Trevor Reilly, this group is up in the air. Fehoko and Hale are sophomores; Norris and Filiaga are freshmen. There was some expectation that suspended safety Brian Blechen would move to this position, but he remains at safety.