Utah Basketball: Can Craig Smith restore Runnin’ Utes to its former glory?

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As Utah football enters the final stretch of the season, still in contention for a Pac-12 championship, Utah basketball is just getting started.

The Runnin’ Utes opened the season with a commanding 89-48 win over Long Island on Monday night.

Senior center Branden Carlson led the way, posting a double-double – 21 points and 10 rebounds.

“I really think we’re going to be better this year,” Carlson said. “Just the mindset that this team compared to last year and the physicality that our team plays with, and how consistent we are together should lead to more success.”

Utah was chosen to finish 10th in the highly competitive Pac-12.

Heading into his second season at the helm, Coach Craig Smith is ready to do whatever it takes to bring the Utes basketball program back to glory.

“We know that the University of Utah has a rich tradition of excellence. We know last year was not up to par,” he said. “We know we have to work our hands to the bone to get there. But it’s an exciting group to be part of.

In case you missed it

First-year quarterback Nate Johnson, a four-star rookie, made his Utah debut last Saturday scoring a pair of touchdowns.

“It was fun to watch,” said offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig, who designed the plays for Johnson. “You always wonder when you put a freshman in there for the first time in Game 9, and he answered well. The lights weren’t too bright for him. He is a dynamic player, and we are looking for this package to continue to grow.

What will be Johnson’s immediate and long-term future?

Numbers game

6: Oregon’s place in this week’s college football playoff standings.

8: USC’s place in this week’s college football playoff standings.

12: UCLA’s place in this week’s college football playoff standings.

13: Utah’s place in this week’s college football playoff standings.


Bonus Points

  • Can the Pac-12 return to 2021 form before USC and UCLA depart for the Big Ten? (Desert News)
  • What does Kyle Whittingham think of SDSU joining the Pac-12? (Desert News)
  • Runnin’ Utes shows improved depth in 89-48 blasting of Long Island in opener (Deseret News)
  • How Utah No. 14 raced all over Arizona in another Pac-12 win (Deseret News)


I believe we will see gradual improvement under (Craig Smith), but I wouldn’t put your hopes on substantial improvement this season. …I mean, it’s not impossible, because we have revised/improved our list, but other programs have also improved their lists. … I don’t know if that will translate to a bunch of conference wins this season.


Nobody’s HS Highlight Coil resembles Britain Covey’s. He’s in the NFL, still amazing people. Nate Johnson is bigger than Covey, and once he rounds the corner and has an open path to the EZ, he’s gone.

Utah’s state record in the 100 meters is 10.49. Johnson was sixth-best in California this year at 10.36, faster than former Utes RB Joe Williams of several years ago, who raced track in junior college.

It’s just fun to watch an 18-year-old find his way, and we’ll see how good he can get.

— 10CC


November 10 | 7 p.m. | Volleyball | against Oregon State | @Salt Lake City | Pac-12 Mountain

November 11 | 1:30 p.m. | Women’s basketball | vs Utah Valley | @Salt Lake City | Utah Live Stream

November 11 | 5:00 p.m. | men’s basketball | against CSU Bakersfield | @Salt Lake City | Pac-12 Mountain

November 12 | 8 p.m. | Soccer | against Stanford | @Salt Lake City | ESPN

November 13 | 1 p.m. | Volleyball | against Oregon | @Salt Lake City | Pac-12 Mountain

November 13 | 7 p.m. | Women’s basketball | vs. Southeast Louisiana | @Salt Lake City | Utah Live Stream

November 14 | 6:00 p.m. | men’s basketball | against Idaho State | @Salt Lake City | Pac-12 Mountain

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