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Tom Smart, Deseret News

Crimson Corner: Utah vs. Cal preview and top seasons by Ute freshmen

By Robert Jackson, KSL.com | Posted - Oct 6th, 2015 @ 5:23pm


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SALT LAKE CITY — Welcome in to the Crimson Corner, your home for Utah football all season long.

While the players got some rest on the bye week, we've been busy at KSL with Utah coverage as the team prepares for their top 25 matchup with Cal. Thanks to four teams losing in the top ten, the Utes move up in the polls without even playing.

Here's a rundown of this week's show:

Utes climb in the polls

Utah moved from tenth to No. 5 in the latest AP Poll, even receiving seven first place votes, two more than No. 2 TCU, who had five. It is the highest ranking for the Utes since the No. 2 ranking they received after defeating Alabama in the Sugar Bowl back in January 2009.

The Utes also jumped up to No. 7 in the Coaches Poll. This week's opponent — Cal — is ranked No. 23 in the AP Poll and No. 22 in the Coaches Poll, setting the stage for a battle that has the attention of ESPN.

College GameDay heading to Salt Lake City

As you've likely heard by now, ESPN is sending its College GameDay crew to Salt Lake City. The network will broadcast its popular show from President's Circle this weekend in advance of the Utes huge matchup with Cal.

The fun starts Friday morning at 10 as ESPN broadcasts live throughout the day. For more information on the broadcast, click here.

Utes focused on Cal

With all this attention and hype there is always the concern that it can become a distraction. That isn't the case with this Utah team. They know what is at stake and know where to place their focus.

Jared Goff vs. Utah defense

Cal quarterback Jared Goff is having a great season, leading the Bears to their best start since 2007.

His numbers speak for themselves. He has completed 70 percent of his passes for 1630 yards in just five games, with 15 touchdowns to four interceptions. Goff ranks in the top 10 of almost every quarterback stat nationally.

He certainly has the respect and attention of Kyle Whittingham and the Utah defense. Putting pressure on him and forcing him to make mistakes will be their focus.

Utes open new basketball facility

Turning some attention now to the hoops program, the new Jon M. and Karen Basketball Center officially opened last Thursday. It is a remarkable facility that will help the men's and women's basketball programs not only compete at a high level in the Pac-12, but nationally as well.

Top freshmen seasons in Utah football history

Utah freshman wide receiver and punt returner Britain Covey is having a remarkable season for the Utes, which gave us some inspiration for this week's Ute Legends segment.

Let's take a look back at some of the best seasons by Utah freshmen.

Eddie Johnson

We start in 1984. Eddie Johnson rushed for 1021 yards and seven touchdowns, both freshman records at Utah. He rushed for 250 yards and three touchdowns in a game against UTEP, and 228 yards against Colorado State. He would go on to become the all-time leading rusher in Utah history. He still holds that record to this day.

Luther Ellis

Luther Ellis had an impact as a freshman in 1991. He had three sacks, 24 tackles and a pass breakup. He went on to become an All-American as a senior and enjoy a decade long career in the NFL.

Kevin Dyson

Kevin Dyson had an impact as a freshman in 1994 for a Utah team finished ranked No. 8 in the country. Dyson had 24 catches for 339 yards, including the game winning catch in the Freedom Bowl against Arizona.

Eric Weddle

Eric Weddle was named First Team Freshman All-American by the Football Writers Association of America in 2003. Weddle started nine games at cornerback, forcing four fumbles, led the Utes with three interceptions and his four sacks ranked second on a 10-2 Utah team. He also had 60 tackles, 4.5 for a loss.

Brian Blechen

Blechen made four freshman All-American teams in 2010 and was named MWC Defensive Player of the Week three times. His interception against Pitt in the season opener helped set up the game winning field goal in overtime. He had four interceptions and 67 tackles that season.

Eric Rowe

Rowe also earned several freshman All-American citations in 2011. He started all 13 games that season, finishing with 69 tackles (2.5 for a loss), a sack, a fumble recovery and nine pass breakups.

Jeremiah CJ Poutasi

Rookie tackle Jeremiah Poutasi is growing up fast with his new team in the NFL, but he was making players for the Utes just a few seasons ago as a freshman. Poutasi earned honorable mention Pac-12 honors, starting the last 10 games at right tackle. He lead the team with 21 knockdowns.

Lowell Lotulelei

Lotulelei did an outstanding job of following in the footsteps of his older brother. In 2014, Lotulelei was named First Team All-American by USA Today. He started the last nine games, racking up four sacks, two of which were against the eventual Heisman Trophy winner, Marcus Mariota.


If you'd like to see a former Ute legend featured on the Crimson Corner, you can send us an email HERE or hit us up on Twitter, @JJSportsBeat and @RoJackKSL.

Hosts: Jeremiah Jensen, Josh Furlong
Produced by: Robert Jackson

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