EL PASO, Texas — The Utah football team will look to rebound from the tough loss to Colorado and close out this season with some momentum heading into the off-season as it faces Georgia Tech in the Armed Forces Bowl.
This will be only the second meeting between the two schools, with Utah having won the only previous matchup in the 2005 Emerald Bowl. In that game, the Utes handled the Yellow Jackets easily, winning 38-10.
Yellow Jacket head coach Paul Johnson is completing his fourth season in charge of the program in Atlanta, and while he has been good in the regular season, he has yet to win a bowl game while at Georgia Tech.
Kickoff for the Sun Bowl is scheduled for noon on Saturday, with the game broadcast live on CBS.
Johnson met with the media earlier this week to reflect on the season leading to the bowl game as well as the showdown with Utah. Here is what he had to say:
If this team is one of his favorites to coach:
“It's been a good group. I think they've been, for the most part, very coachable and, knock on wood, they've stayed out of trouble. I think it's a good group.”
His thoughts on the team at the end of the season:
“I don't know. I hadn't even thought about it. I think you think about the games you lost and what could have been. Maybe when the bowl game's over and the season's over, you'll reflect on it. Right now, we're still playing. I'm disappointed we lost a game. Every time you lose, you're disappointed.”Looking at anything in particular since the end of the season:
“I've evaluated everything. It's not anything new. It's the same stuff that happened all year. Third downs (on defense), more efficient throwing in the end (of the season). We started out pretty good, but didn't finish very good. (We) just (need) consistency in a lot of areas.”
Georgia Tech's recent bowl history and what it would mean to end the losing streak:
“I think any time you play, you want to win. If you're competitive, you want to win. Me personally, that's something that we've got to do here to put an end on the season. I think I was 2-2 in bowl games at Navy. That wasn't great either, but you want to win every time you play. We've drawn a couple really good teams. We should have won the game last year (against Air Force) and didn't. The first two years (against LSU and Iowa), I'm not sure the better team didn't win.”
His initial impression of Utah:
“We have a quality opponent in Utah. Certainly the strengths of their football team coincides with what looks like the strengths of our football team, if you compare the rushing defense to (our offense) and those types of things.“They run well. The tailback (John White IV) is a great player; he has put up a lot of yards for them, so that will be a great challenge for our defense as well. But we are looking forward for the chance to play in a bowl game. We haven’t had a lot of success in the past couple years, and we are happy to have the chance to play again.”
The biggest challenge of facing the Utes:
“I think the biggest challenge, despite what you’re doing offensively, is to try and block the down guys. They’re certainly very good. Another problem we’ll face is that they run well to the ball. This group of young men worked real hard throughout the season and in bowl practice. We’ll continue to work hard and see if we’re good enough.
"We have to make sure that we can stop their rushing attack as well. We’ve struggled with power running. It’s going to a big challenge to our front seven to see if we can stop them from running the ball. If we don’t stop them, it’s going to be a long game.”
Landon Walters is a history and political science major currently studying at Salt Lake Community College. He is an avid sports fan and loves writing. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.