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GAME WEEK: 18 Utah vs Utah State, Utah Edition



Estimated read time: 5-6 minutes

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Press releaseGame Notes

> No. 19/18 Utah (0-0, 0-0 MWC) hosts Utah State ((0-0, 0-0 WAC) in the season opener for both teams on Thu., Sept. 3. Game time is 7 p.m. in Rice-Eccles Stadium. The game will be televised live on The Mtn. Radio is KALL 700 AM (kall700sports.com).

> Utah owns the longest current win streak (14 games) and bowl win streak (eight games) in the nation.

> Coming off a 13-0 season that saw Utah finish No. 2 in the nation in the Associated Press rankings, the Utes enter the 2009 season with their best preseason rankings ever (No. 18 USA Today Coaches and No. 19 A.P.).

> Utah has been ranked just one previous time in the preseason--starting the 2004 season at No. 21. Utah has never before been ranked in the A.P. preseason poll.

Related:

> The Utes have finished the season in the Top 25 four times (AP/Coaches): 1994 (No. 10/8), 2003 (No. 21/21), 2004 (No. 4/5), 2008 (No. 2/4).

> Utah and Utah State have met annually since 1944, but after Thursday will not play again until 2012. The instate rivals agreed to suspend their annual series for the next two years to make room on Utah's 2010 schedule to play Notre Dame.

> Utah and Utah State are playing for the 109th time, making it the 12th-oldest rivalry in the nation. Utah leads the series 76-28-4 and has won the last 11 games against USU. For more on the series, see the boxed inset on page 2.

> Utah has won the last 11 games against USU by an average margin of 24.6 points. In Kyle Whittingham's four years as the head coach, Utah has won by an average margin of 34 points.

> Utah is the only school since the inception of the BCS to record two undefeated seasons (12-0 in 2004, 13-0 in 2008).

> A Utah coach has been named the National Coach of the Year twice in the last five years: Urban Meyer in 2004 and Kyle Whittingham in 2008.

Quotes from Kyle Whittingham's Weekly Press Conference

Opening Statement:
The first game is finally here, it's been a long time coming. I'm excited to get the season going and to find out where we are at as a team and where we stand. Utah State brings a lot of unknowns, as is in every opener. They have 10 returning starters and a new coaching staff and they have a lot of excitement with the turnover. I feel good about fall camp and our efforts to this point. The work ethic and focus have all been good, but you never know where you stand until you line up against someone. The changes in the coaching staff seem to have gone well. We have a lot of continuity and cohesiveness among the staff. Health-wise, we are relatively healthy. We did not lose anyone for the entire season, which is a positive. I am excited to get going. The MUSS is a record-setting 5,000 strong and the enthusiasm and passion they bring is tremendous. I am looking forward to watching these guys play in a few days.

On the unknowns for Utah:
Obviously at quarterback, whichever guy is in there has never taken a Division I snap. That's a situation where with the quarterback particularly you never know what you have until they are under fire in a game. We will be finding out on Thursday. A lot of new people on special teams. We have a new punter in Sean Sellwood. He is also the holder. A new snapper in Patrick Greene, and Ben Vroman has never placekicked in a football game. Luke Matthews has never returned a punt. We have two new corners. Brandon Burton and R.J. Stanford have big shoes to fill. That's about it. We have a lot of known commodities.

On the quarterbacks:
Not naming a quarterback is not a schematic advantage, but it takes the pressure off the guy. There are going to be distractions anyway. It's not a top-secret deal, but it lets the guys focus and prepare and do their thing on Thursday with as little distraction as possible.

Both have played very well and have made strides each and every day with their decision-making. Both have done a nice job, but until they are in front of 40,000, fans we won't find out for sure.

Utah State will send the house after them and test them out and see how they handle pressure. All coordinators will do that. We've been pressuring the quarterback in practice and putting them in that situation, but when nothing's live, it's a bit of a different situation.

With two guys being inexperienced, you never know when you will need to go to the other guy, so if we have the opportunity to play both, we will. We are not going to paint ourselves into a corner, but the opportunity to get both quarterbacks reps is dependent on how the game plays out and situations. You never know when you will need to use the other guy because of injury. Ideally we want both to get experience in a game situation.

On Utah State:
Diondre Borrel is a terrific athlete. He is not a real big guy, but he is quick and fast and can hurt you in a few different ways. To have an effective spread, you need that kind of guy back there. They have 4-5 o-linemen returning and their tailback is a very good. I am very high on him; he is a great football player.

On coaching against Gary Andersen:
It's not about the coaches, it's about the players. When coaching a game, you are in game mode and managing the game. You are not concerned with the guy on the other sideline. I don't think there will be more to it than that.

On the new coordinators (Dave Schramm and Kalani Sitake):
They've done a nice job to this point with the organization and implementation of schemes. If you've never coordinated before there is a learning curve, and they have handled that well. I don't see my role changing dramatically. I will give input, but I hire good guys that I have faith in to do their job - that's what it's all about.

(Courtesy: University of Utah)

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