In our first edition of Across the Press Box, The Daily Wildcat caught up with sports editor Sammy Mora from The Daily Utah Chronicle to preview Saturday's matchup between the Arizona Wildcats and the Utah Utes.
Daily Wildcat: Who will be Utah’s starting quarterback this season? Is head coach Kyle Whittingham keeping his cards close to the vest with this one?
Sammy Mora: We still have no clue on who will be the starting quarterback for the Utes. Our game week two-deep came out on Monday and Cam Rising, Jake Bentley and Drew Lisk were all listed as the potential starting QB. Whittingham is keeping this one very close to the chest because he wants to keep the Wildcats on their toes. Each QB brings something different to this Utah offense. But no matter who takes the first snap on Saturday, this Utah offense is in good hands.
DW: How will Utah replace all of its defensive starters from last season?
SM: Some of the positions like defensive line and end aren't going to face as big of issues in replacing starters. Utah has always had one of the best defensive lines in the country and I don't see that changing this year. Utah is bringing back one of the best linebackers in the conference in Devin Lloyd and having someone like Nephi Sewell lining up next to him will be a good combination for the team. As for the secondary, there are a lot more questions there. While we have the depth, we don't have the experience. This secondary is very young but both coach [Sharrieff] Shah and coach [Morgan] Scalley are fantastic at what they do and while there are bound to be some growing pains this season, the secondary will be able to replace Jaylon Johnson, Terrell Burgess and Julian Blackmon.
DW: Is Utah wide receiver Britain Covey worth the hype?
SM: Yes. Covey is a "Swiss Army Knife" for the Utes. Not only can he line up in the slot, he is able to run the jet sweeps and is an explosive kick returner. He also has thrown a touchdown in a game before. Having a fully healthy Covey opens up so much more of this Utah offense.
DW: Who is one Utah player to watch on Saturday?
SM: Brant Kuithe. He is coming off a breakout season and eyes are going to be on him to see if he can repeat it this year. Kuithe has worked a lot this offseason to become a better blocker, in addition to bulking up as well. If they can get Kuithe going early, I don't think Arizona will be able to stop him.
DW: Arizona fans are very high on quarterback Grant Gunnell this season. From an outside perspective, how good do you think he actually is?
SM: I think he has a lot of potential. We saw him play when the Utes and Wildcats faced-off last season and it wasn't the best showing for him. I think this year will be different for him since he will be the guy for Arizona. He has the arm to make the big throws and he also can get it done with his feet.
DW: Final score prediction?
SM: I have the Utes coming out on top 28-17. It's going to take the Utah offense a few drives to get things going but once they get it going Arizona is going to have their hands full. On the other side of the ball, it might take the Utah defense a little bit longer to get their feet underneath them but they will have some big stops in the times where it matters most.