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Kyle Whittingham, players unfazed by media vote pegging Utes 5th in Pac-12 South division

By Dirk Facer, Deseret News

Published: Wed, July 23 3:32 p.m. MDT

 Utah Head Coach Kyle Whittingham takes questions at the 2014 Pac-12 NCAA college football media days at Paramount Studios in Los Angeles Wednesday, July 23, 2014. (AP Photo)

Utah Head Coach Kyle Whittingham takes questions at the 2014 Pac-12 NCAA college football media days at Paramount Studios in Los Angeles Wednesday, July 23, 2014. (AP Photo)

(, AP)

HOLLYWOOD, California — After back-to-back 5-7 seasons, Utah didn’t command a lot of star power in the Pac-12 preseason media poll. The Utes, in fact, wound up being more like understudies or extras in the annual sampling — finishing fifth in the South, ahead of Colorado but well behind UCLA, USC, Arizona State and Arizona.

“We don’t pay much attention to it,” Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said at Pac-12 Football Media Days at Paramount Studios. “Really, it’s a product of what happened last season, for the most part, and every year is a new opportunity.”

The Utes, who open the season Aug. 28 against Idaho State, are eager to turn things around.

Wide receiver Dres Anderson and defensive end Nate Orchard, who are representing Utah at the meetings, made that clear upon hearing the poll results.

“I don’t care at all. You’ve got to play every game. Everything, all these polls and stuff that come out before the season, it means nothing,” Anderson said. “Because when you’re playing in a game, we’re not playing to be fifth we’re playing to be first. So we’re going to play hungry and we’re going to play to win.”

Anderson added that the Utes aren’t going to play down to anybody.

“We could have been (picked) first and I’m still motivated,” Anderson said. “None of these things are going to unmotivate me, to make me feel I don’t have to play as hard or I’m not as hungry. So I’m always going to be ready to just showcase our team.”

Orchard also isn’t putting much stock in the preseason rankings.

“Polls are the polls. It’s what people say. It’ what everyone thinks,” Orchard noted. “Like I’ve said before, the two years our record has shown it and we’ve kind of put ourselves in that position. So the only thing we can do now is gather as a team and prove the world wrong.”

Orchard said the Utes enjoy the role of the underdog.

“We like that. We like that a lot,” he explained. “Teams will look down on us and we’ll definitely come out swinging and shock the world.”

UCLA is the heavy favorite to win the division. The Bruins received 37 first-place votes. Second-place USC and third-place Arizona State netted one each.

In the North, projected conference champion Oregon was the top choice of 37 voters. Stanford garnered the other two first-place picks. Washington, Oregon State, Washington State and California round out the projected order of finish.

* * * * *

2014 Pac-12 football preseason media poll

North

1. Oregon (37) — 232

2. Stanford (2) — 192

3. Washington — 142

4. Oregon State — 125

5. Washington State — 87

6. California — 41

South

1. UCLA (37) — 231

2. USC (1) — 181

3. Arizona State (1) — 163

4. Arizona — 119

5. Utah — 82

6. Colorado — 43

Pac-12 champion: Oregon (24), UCLA (13), Stanford (1), USC (1)

Email: dirk@desnews.com

Twitter: @DirkFacer

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1. Kralon
HUNTINGTON BEACH, CA,
July 23, 2014

So, out of 12 teams Utah is picked to finish 10th, I honestly believe Utah is better than that and will do better.

Go Utes!

2. MyPerspective
Salt Lake City, UT,
July 23, 2014

This is the year the Utes surprise a few teams and make some noise in the Pac-12.

Go Utes!

3. Johnny Triumph
American Fork, UT,
July 23, 2014

Whitt should put some stock into that number, it shows the perception of the team by those who cover football. It's a bad sign for the year to come. I truly feel badly for the Utes and their fanbase, it's tough to endure poor season after poor season.

4. Flyer
St. George, UT,
July 23, 2014

Not surprising. The Utes should have stayed in the MWC where they were somewhat of a national novelty, and were a big dog (along with the Cougars). Now they're simply a team who seems to have gotten themselves in over their heads, and searching for an identity. Good luck to coach Whittingham, and to the Utes in general.

5. DuckOuttaWater
SLC , UT,
July 23, 2014

Nothing surprising about media predictions. Utes 5th and my Ducks 1st in the North. Here's hoping Utah has a breakout year and surprises the naysayers this season. Remember, no one predicted Auburn to win the SEC and go to the national championship last year either. Anything is possible.

GO DUCKS!