Huskies Shouldn't Get Complacent with Rebuilding Utah Team

Twelve months ago, the Utes did something few college teams do: fourth-quartered the UW at Husky Stadium.
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The Utah football team will enter Husky Stadium on Saturday night dressed in its standard red and white uniforms while answering to coach Kyle Whittingham, but otherwise look unrecognizable.

Twelve months after fourth-quartering the Washington in the same setting and sneaking off with a 33-28 decision, the Utes show up as a last-minute Apple Cup replacement with a near total makeover.

From that game in early November 2019, Utah has just two starters on defense and five on offense who shared in that monumental victory for the program. This is a new-look team. For that matter, the Huskies return just nine starters from that game.

USC readily exploited the youth permeating throughout Whittingham's lineup last weekend by beating the Utes 33-17 in Salt Lake City. The Trojans also abruptly ended the season for sophomore quarterback Cameron Rising, who lasted just 14 plays before he suffered a dislocated shoulder on a pass rush and strip-sack. 

Rising, a 6-foot-2, 220-pound pro-style passer and Texas transfer, had replaced the graduated Tyler Huntley, the chief architect of the victory in Seattle. He had beat out Jake Bentley, a South Carolina transfer who will now start for him in Saturday night's contest.

Bentley is no newcomer to big-time college football.

While missing most of 2019, the 6-4, 220-pound senior started 33 games at South Carolina before moving on from the Gamecocks mess created by Will Muschamp, who was fired last weekend, which was no small development for Bentley.

His father, Bobby Bentley, remains on staff, at least for now, as the South Carolina tight-ends coach.

This Bentley was a three-year starter and two-year captain who set a Gamecocks record by completing 62.5 percent of his career passes. He threw 27 touchdown passes in 2018, five passes of 70 yards or more.

He was 19-14 as the South Carolina starter, 10-7 in the SEC.

Whittingham, who replaced Urban Meyer as Utah coach in 2004, is known for putting a good product on the field. In his 15 seasons, he's compiled a 131-65 record, 11-3 in bowl games. He's had only two losing seasons. He had his best team last season, finishing 11-3

While he looks almost militaristic with his firm jaw and gruff voice, Whittingham has a fun side to him, as the video shows. He was a Van Halen fan, saddened by the passing of guitarist Eddie Van Halen.

While his team will have a decidedly new look, the Utah coach should have his guys ready to play, poised to spoil the Huskies' impressive 2-0 start.