Players to Watch – Utah Utes


August 30, 2012; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Utah Utes wide receiver Dres Anderson (6) warms up prior to a game against the Northern Colorado Bears at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

The transition to the Pac 12 has been a little rougher than most Utes fans expected after their run in the Mountain West Conference as a result of shaky quarterback play and lack of depth to compete against BCS teams week in and week out. With the addition of offensive minded Dennis Erickson to the staff, the Utes will look to be more explosive on offense to add to the always stingy Kyle Whittingham defense.

#6 – Dres Anderson – WR
6’1” – 187 lbs. – JR

Anderson, much like the rest of the Utah offense, was at the mercy of terrible quarterback play in 2012. Anderson is the son of former NFL wide receiver Willie “Flipper” Anderson. He is a two-time honorable mention Academic All-Pac 12 selection. With the edition of Dennis Erickson to the offensive staff, Anderson’s touches will increase and is poised to have a big season.

Strengths – Anderson has a high football I.Q. that is evident on tape. He runs crisp routes where he displays an innate ability to set up his defender before making his cut. Anderson catches the ball with his hands and away from his body when it is thrown to him. He has great acceleration to create space and be a threat vertically for the Utes and with Erickson calling plays this skill set will be utilized more often.

Weaknesses – Anderson doesn’t display great strength coming off the line and will need to develop upper body strength to be effective at the next level. Even with good speed, he is not an athlete that will jump out on film.

Overall – Due to horrid quarterback play, Anderson saw his yards per catch go from 15.43 to 10.14 in the 2012 season. With the addition of Dennis Erickson as offensive coordinator and stability at the quarterback position as Travis Wilson enters his second season at the helm and first full season. Anderson will be used as a vertical threat in Erickson’s offense that will show case his ability to make the difficult catch.

#4 – Brian Blechen – S/LB
6’2” – 212 lbs. – SR

A player that has been on the field since he arrived on campus which has spanned a total of 35 games, Blechen is the tone setter on the Utes defense. He is a player that will come up and put his pads on any player carrying the ball or in the way of his pursuit. Blechen has the versatility to move around on defense where he has been used as a strong safety and an outside linebacker. He is a three-time honorable mention all-conference player, 2010 Freshman All-American, and three-time academic all-conference player during his career with the Utes.

Strengths – Blechen is an instinctive player that understands how the offense is trying to attack the Utes defense with the knack to lay punishing hits on players crossing the middle or ball carriers. He has the strength to come down and play inside the box as an outside linebacker with the speed to play in the secondary in coverage.

Weakness – Blechen is a tweener player that has the instincts to make up for the lack of sideline to sideline speed which may limit his position in the NFL. He is a hard hitter but will miss tackles due for going for the “highlight” hit over the fundamental play.

Overall – Blechen is a football player that any coach would like on their team and in the locker room. He is a hard-nosed player that leads by example on and off the field. He brings that nasty attitude that defenses thrive on from their leaders. Blechen will need to improve his overall speed and quickness to make the transition to the NFL at strong safety but has the versatility to play outside linebacker.