July 28, 2006

Utah 2006 preview: Secondary defense

2005 In Review

Utah's secondary had an inconsistent 2005, like just about every other position on the team. For the most part, the secondary played well, but experienced lapses in concentration. The last offensive play of the first half of the Emerald Bowl, when Utah allowed a 60 yard "Hail Mary" pass to set up a last second field goal, was a microcosm of the season. Utah started out with decent coverage on the play, but fell apart toward the end, allowing Georgia Tech's receiver to get behind the coverage.

Numbers wise, Utah allowed 222.4 yards passing per game, which isn't all that bad considering the Utes play in a conference that featured several good passing attacks. The secondary allowed nineteen touchdown passes on the season and picked off fifteen passes, while also accounting for four of Utah's five forced fumbles, and three fumble recoveries. Utah's 119.87 pass efficiency defense is respectable, but it could have been improved.

Utah's secondary play did improve late in the season when MWC Defensive Player of the Year Eric Weddle moved from safety to corner, locking down the opposition's best receiver. With Weddle playing corner, Utah won three of their last four games, with the lone loss coming mainly because of a poor second half performance by the offense.

Backing up both safety spots is a former receiver, John Peel (6-2, 196, SO). Peel broke into the 2 deep at both safety positions after a terrific spring. Peel has excellent size, strength, and speed for safety, and has shown good instincts and a nose for the ball. Peel is still raw in his coverage and tackling technique, but he should find some playing time this season. Peel contributed last season on special teams, recording 3 tackles.

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