SALT LAKE CITY -- The Utah Utes (3-0, 2-0 MWC) have climbed a spot in both polls following a 56-14 win over conference rival New Mexico.
Utah is now ranked 13th, their highest ranking since finishing the 2008 season second in the AP poll.
Score: Utah 56, New Mexico 14
Terrance Cain improved to 9-1 as a starting quarterback as the Utes rolled over New Mexico 56-14 in Albuquerque.
Cain was 20 of 23 for 248 yards and three touchdowns. The Utah offense piled up 428 yards and 19 first downs.
ALBUQUERQUE -- If any Mountain West Conference opponent knows how to beat a ranked Utah team, its the New Mexico Lobos.
In Urban Meyer's only conference loss, the Lobos knocked off the No. 23 Utes in 2003, 47-35.
In November of 1994, No. 8 Utah had an 8-0 record going into their match-up with New Mexico, including victories over conference partner No. 12 Colorado State and Oregon, who won the PAC-10 and finished the season ranked 11th. The Utes were heavy favorites to destroy a Lobo team that only had three wins on the season. Even though the Utes jumped out early, turnovers fueled a furious Lobo rally, with the Lobos winning 23-21 on a field goal with just over 30 seconds left.
With the 2010 season in full swing and the "light" part of their schedule ahead, there is one thing that could derail the season - injuries.
Starting Quarterback Jordan Wynn already has a sprained thumb and missed the UNLV game. Punter Sean Sellwood has a bad ankle after getting a punt blocked against UNLV - the punt game is already a mess. Sellwood is listed as probable.
The scariest injury was at the end of the game when center Zane Taylor was rolled up in a pile and had to be helped off the field. Taylor is listed as doubtful for the game against the Lobos. The fact that Taylor's injury is not as serious as it initially looked has to leave Utah fans breathing a sigh of relief. Taylor has made all of the offensive line calls for three years now and to lose him might be devastating. Utah's schedule looks to be lending a helping hand though.
Utah WR and punt returner Shaky Smithson was named the MWC Special Teams player of the week for his standout performance in the Utes' 38-10 win over UNLV.
Shaky bounced back in a big way, from having two turnovers against Pitt, to having the #2 highlight on Sportscenter - a 77-yard punt return for a touchdown.
He also tallied a 55-yard touchdown reception from backup quarterback Terrance Cain, who was filling in for Jordan Wynn (sprained thumb).
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Utah is up six spots in this week's AP Top 25.
Utah is on the road Saturday at New Mexico, which fell to 0-2 this week with a 52-17 loss to Texas Tech.
Score: Utah 38, UNLV 10
Terrance Cain improved to 8-1 as a starting quarterback, guiding the Utes to a 38-10 victory over UNLV.
In the last conference match-up between the two teams before Utah begins PAC-10 play next season, Cain was effective in backing up injured Utah quarterback Jordan Wynn, who dressed but did not play in the game.
SALT LAKE CITY -- What in the world happened after the 27-0 loss at UNLV in 2007? Is that the single-most embarrassing loss in Utah football recent history? How many times did Frank "The Tank" Summers say, "Fill it up again!" during that game? Should Ute fans try to erase that game out of their memory? The answer to that question is a resounding no.
What? Don't erase it? Let's dig into the stats from that disaster in 2007 game before we answer why. Summers had 190 yards rushing on 29 carries. That translated into a 6.6 yard/carry average and two touchdowns. Summers also had one reception for 29 yards and he happened to score on that play as well. The Utah team as a whole gave up 340 yards of offense, turned the ball over four times, and lost the time of possession battle, albeit by just over a minute, but they still lost. They looked awful. The Utes were coming off a 44-6 win over a ranked UCLA team, obviously feeling pretty good about themselves.
Why shouldn't we erase that memory from a few years ago? The most incredibly boring thing happened to the University of Utah football program after that. They learned their clichés. They learned to take it one game at a time. They learned that they need to do whatever they could to help the ball club. They needed to be grateful for the opportunity to play, to play hard, and the good Lord willing, everything will work out. They learned that they couldn't look ahead. They learned the focus they needed to complete a college football schedule. The coaches learned to dot their i's and cross their t's. Since they learned those lessons in 2007, the Utes are 32 and 4. Something happened after that loss. Perhaps nobody in the Utah football program will admit to it, but it opened their eyes.
Utah's defense will likely face two quarterbacks when they battle UNLV Saturday in Rice-Eccles Stadium.
Junior Mike Clausen was named the starter over Omar Clayton for the Rebels first game (against Wisconsin). Clayton had been the starter the past two years. He did get a chance though, coming into the game in the second half and put up better numbers than Clausen. He also becoming the team's leading rusher.
"We saw them both on tape Saturday and they are both capable," Utah Head Coach Kyle Whittingham said. "They both have their own skill set and things they do well."
It was fitting that DeVonte Christopher and Brian Blechen received recognition in the first week of the football season. Christopher, the Mountain West offensive player of the week, caught 8 passes for 155 yards and a touchdown on a 61 yard hookup with Jordan Wynn. Brian Blechen, the true freshman safety made possibly the season saving play in the first game with the interception of Tino Sunseri on the first play of overtime.
The new college football rankings came out Tuesday and the Utes moved up to 20th in both the AP and the Coach's poll. Utah is right where they need to be. If the Utes want to do anything this season, they will need Pittsburgh to win. Pitt has a nice schedule this year. In a couple of weeks they host the Miami Hurricanes and then on October 9th, they are at Notre Dame. That will be an interesting game to watch as a Utah fan.
As Jeremiah Jensen so often does, he sends out emails to all in our office with important stats and notes, here are some notes on Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham.
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Utah needed just one game to make the Associated Press Top 25.
The Utes are ranked 20th in the new poll released Tuesday. Utah was unranked in the preseason, but got enough votes this week after a 27-24 win over Pittsburgh in the season opener.
The Panthers were ranked 15th in the preseason, but fell out of the rankings this week.
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- DeVonte Christopher (Utah), Brian Blechen (Utah) and Riley Stephenson (BYU) are Mountain West Conference Players of the Week for games through Sept. 4. Christopher earns the Offensive Player of the Week honor, while Blechen garners the Defensive Player award and Stephenson receives Special Teams recognition. This marks the first-ever player of the week honor for all three individuals.
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK
DEVONTE CHRISTOPHER, UTAH
Sophomore, Wide Receiver, Las Vegas, Nev./Canyon Springs HS
DeVonte Christopher caught eight passes for 155 yards and a touchdown to lead No. 24 Utah to a 27-24 overtime victory over No. 15/15 Pittsburgh. Christopher, who had never caught a pass at Utah until Thursday's game, averaged 19.4 yards per reception. His longest catch of the night came with 7:59 left in regulation, when he caught a pass from quarterback Jordan Wynn pass in stride and raced down the field for a 61-yard touchdown to put the Utes ahead, 24-13.
Notice a difference in Jordan Wynn from the first half to the second half of Utah's 27-24 overtime win over Pitt? It looks like he injured his sprained his thumb on his throwing hand.
Dirk Facer of the Deseret News reports that "he's considered day-to-day as the Utes look ahead to their final Mountain West Conference opener Sept. 11 against UNLV at Rice-Eccles Stadium".
In the first half, Wynn was on fire, completing 15 of 20 for 161 yards and two touchdowns. In the third quarter, Wynn was just 3 of 11.
What an atmosphere on the hill at Rice-Eccles Stadium Thursday night. More than 45,000 strong got into the game and stayed into it throughout - and they had to.
Kyle Whittingham spoke after the game about having a couple of goals for this game against the 15th ranked Panthers. Job number one was to keep Dion Lewis from getting 100 yards. Lewis had 25 carries for 75 yards and a touchdown. The Utah defense held him to three yards/carry. That was after his first carry of the game going for 17 yards. He also had 1 reception for 9 yards. Keeping Lewis contained - mission accomplished.
Utah fans have to be pretty happy to be where they are, 1-0, having beat the 15th ranked team in the country, and having played by my viewpoint, not very good. I am referring mostly to the offensive side of the ball. Utah gave the ball up 3 times. Shaky Smithson struggled mightily making two huge mistakes, the second being a punt that he shouldn't have gone after. The Utes also had 11 penalties for 99 yards. One penalty quickly comes to mind when right before the half, Wynn was leading the team for a possible 21-7 lead at the half and all the momentum a team could hope for. Zane Taylor was flagged for an illegal procedure that killed the drive. No penalties are good, but a penalty inside the red zone is frustrating.
Score: Utah 27, Pittsburgh 24
On a big-time stage with a national audience, Utah extended its home winning streak to 18 games as they defeat the Pittsburgh Panthers 27-24 in overtime.
The Utah defense, even after being backed up against the wall and put in poor situations, played a spectacular game, holding Heisman Trophy candidate Dion Lewis to only 83 yards on 25 carries, a 3.0 yard average. Pitt had the ball nearly 10 minutes more than the Utes did, but the defense did enough to get the win for the team.
SALT LAKE CITY -- No more talking, let's get it on!
The college football season in the state of Utah has arrived. There are spectacular match-ups from teams in the state, including BYU vs. Washington, Utah State @ Oklahoma, and Weber State heading east to take on Boston College. But the game that kicks it all off is one of the best match-ups in all of college football the opening weekend, Pittsburgh vs. Utah.
The #24 Utah Utes come into the game with a 17-game home winning streak and a ninth consecutive bowl win. Utah Head Coach Kyle Whittingham said in his Monday presser, "We had a very productive off-season, but we've been pointing to this Pittsburgh game for a lot of months now."
We are just a little over 54 hours away from Thursday night's No. 15 Pittsburgh vs. No. 24 Utah match-up in Rice-Eccles Stadium. College football is back.
How will the Utes stack up against Pitt? Let's take a closer look as we scout the opposition.
With Pittsburgh breaking in a new quarterback, expect them to utilize tailback Dion Lewis in every way imaginable. The sophomore running back, who some are saying is a Heisman Trophy candidate, rushed for 1,799 yards last season, averaging 5.5 yards per carry. He broke numerous school and Big East freshman rushing records, setting the stage for what could be another monstrous season.
Thousands of fans lined up Saturday morning to meet players and coaches from all 18 Ute varsity teams. Fans were also able to get a sneak peak at the new commemorative signs decorating Rice-Eccles Stadium in recognition of Utah's 2005 Fiesta Bowl and 2009 Sugar Bowl victories.
Utah men's Head Basketball Coach Jim Boylen thinks that its great for the team to see the passion and commitment of the fans. "I talk to our team about what it means to have 'Utah' across their chest. It means a lot to these people here, and that is who we are playing for," Coach Boylen said. "I think it raises their level of play."
On a side note, I asked Coach if he is ready to get back on the court, and he jokingly replied, "I was ready about three months ago."
In response to my question to my last post on the blog, who would the Utes least afford to lose during the season, I received some great emails. Most people argued that losing Justin Taplin-Ross would hurt the Utes most. Thanks for all of the feedback. My answer would be Zane Taylor. He is one of the team captains, senior, center, Outland Trophy candidate, and main reason, from what I have seen, ultimate glue guy. Every good team needs one and every good team has at least one, he looks like the guy that everyone responds to.
I also received a few emails regarding the rumors of redesigning of the uniforms. There were questions as to what they would look like and specifics. Let me clarify, I only heard there would be a redesign, anything else is speculation. Just for fun, I did receive a link from an email with all of the Utah football helmets from the past and thought it would be good and useful to post it so, there you go.
It was good to see some Utah players out and about Friday evening. A huge part of our football coverage here at SportsBeat happens Friday night with our local high school football. I went to the Highland/Hunter game and I saw Jordan Wynn and Shaky Smithson there. The guys were enjoying the game and some of the big hits. I am also willing to bet that Wynn was sizing up one of his future receivers. Nate Fakahafua plays for Highland and committed to Utah as a junior. Fakahafua had a 26 yard touchdown catch, blocked extra point, and countless tackles. He was all over the field. Anybody can see that he has tons of ability; the only problem is that Highland can't get him the ball enough. He is an All-State wide receiver on a team that runs the ball 90% of the time. Fakahafua is easily 6'4" 200lbs. I look forward to seeing him in crimson next season at the U.
Double check your watch, the Utes home-opener against Pitt is only 5 days, 20 hours, 50 minutes away (but who is counting!) I don't know about you guys, but I am ready for some football.
Today's practice format was what a normal Monday includes with the team wearing helmets and shorts (next week is a short week with the game against Pitt on Thursday).
The first takeaway from practice: team speed. From the defensive line to the running backs and everything in between, the 2010 version of the Utes are quick. I was able to watch a few drills and was extremely impressed with the overall team speed.
|Jon M. Huntsman Center, Salt Lake City||12/10 7:00 pm|
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