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Matt Piper and Kyle Goon
Matt Piper and Kyle Goon cover University of Utah sports teams for The Salt Lake Tribune. Matt Piper is on twitter at @matthew_piper, Kyle Goon is on twitter at @kylegoon

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Murphy's departure leaves a void for Utes

Jake Murphy's decision to turn pro certainly is a blow for Utah's offense. As coach Kyle Whittingham said in his statement, Murphy was both a talented player and leader for the Utes.

So just how big of a blow is this going to be for the Utes? I'd say it could be a bigger deal for the Utes from the leadership standpoint more than anything else, particularly if quarterback Travis Wilson can't return.

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If the Utes have to start a new quarterback, it would have helped tremendously to have Murphy in the lineup, a guy known for his competitive demeanor and strong will. He is the kind of guy players can look to in the huddle when they need a big play and he'll say, "I got this."

Time and time again Murphy was there making the big plays for the Utes, acting as a huge security blanket of sorts for Utah's quarterbacks.

The Utes return senior Westlee Tonga and were very positive about the development of freshman Siale Fakailoatonga, who played in all but two games.

They should be able to handle the physical challenges, but who will step in as a vocal leader is anyone's guess.

- Lya Wodraska



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