The Utah Utes are still looking to find their footing in the Pac 12, but face a daunting road to get that done in 2013. Kyle Whittingham will need his entire roster to step up in a major way, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. Can senior linebacker Trevor Reilly step up as a leader and improve the Utes’ defensive efforts next season?
Reilly returns for his final season in Salt Lake City after leading the team with 69 tackles and added 6.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks in 2012. He had the highest number of sacks in 2012 of any player returning next season and was a turnover generating machine, forcing three fumbles and picking off a pass. Next season, he will have to be even more disruptive for Utah to have a chance.
His role will be even more important as the Utes try and find replacements for some of their key contributors next season. Star Lotulelei was a dominant force in the middle of the line and Joe Kruger came off the edge as well as anyone in the pass rush, leading the team with six sacks last season. The front seven is going to miss that pair’s production early next season and will need someone to step up in their place.
That is where Reilly fits in. He has already shown the ability to be a highly productive member of the defense but will need to take that ability to a new level next season. If he can step up his game and elevate the defense around him, Utah just might make some noise in Pac 12 play next season.