Three Utah Players To Watch Saturday
GAINESVILLE- The Utes are under 24 hours until perhaps the biggest opener in program history. A lot is on the line which means players have to step up in big ways in order to accomplish everything Utah wants in 2022. We are all aware of the typical players to watch, but there are some newcomers or guys flying a little under-the-radar who could be difference makers not only on Saturday, but the rest of the season.
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Vele has been with the Utes for a while now and if you’re a die-hard fan you’ve probably heard about him quite a bit since 2019 even though he hasn’t played a lot. Injuries have been a bit of a killer for the 6’5″ once walk-on receiver, but he’s always shown flashes whether at practice or in games that the coaches have loved. As fans and media we’ve been able to see it a little too, but this year appears to be a little different.
Utah has said they want to be more “vertical” on offense in 2022 and they seem to be confident Vele (along with guys like Solomon Enis and Money Parks) can get it done. Vele gets the nod because there has been talk of him being “the wide receiver” (something Utah hasn’t really had since David Reed) amongst a group of receivers. Bottom line, Vele emerging big for Utah could change the offense from very good to great if he does what the coaches think he can.
The big guys rarely get love, so I’m handing it out here. Braeden Daniels is slated to play left tackle this year for the Utes, but according to coaches could be placed anywhere on the line in a pinch. Last year, Nick Ford was that guy, but he has since gone on to the NFL. Daniels from all accounts sounds like the one tasked with filling those shoes and it’s coming on the heels of what could be a big season.
Combine that with Utah’s “known” slow starts on the offensive line and Daniels stepping up and bringing the group together becomes even more important to the 2022 season’s success.
Replacing someone like Devin Lloyd is virtually impossible, however, the Utes have to try. The linebacking corps for Utah is solid with talent, but it’s young and untested. This is why Florida transfer Mohamoud Diabate could be a big factor for Utah on defense. As a senior that’s played a lot (granted elsewhere) he brings some experience the group is lacking. This could be very important while guys are getting used to the speed of the game.
On top of bringing maturity and experience, Diabate is an athletic freak and according to coaches has done all of the film work in the offseason to be successful in the middle of Utah’s defense.
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