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SALT LAKE CITY -- The University of Utah (3-1), coming off what Head Coach Kyle Whittingham called the team's "most solid performance of the year" against Louisville, will now prepare for Colorado State this Saturday.
The Utes had a bye last week and used it to heal some bumps and bruises. Running back Matt Asiata, who tore his ACL while running in a touchdown against the Cardinals, had surgery Monday and is out for the season. Ute offensive lineman Zane Beadles, who had a deep gash on his shin said he'll be ready to play Saturday at CSU. When asked how many stitches it took to sew up the "4-inch" gash, Beadles was told it was ‘too many to count!'
Looking ahead to the Rams (3-2), Utah's first conference game of the season, Whittingham said they're "much improved," despite the loss to Idaho over the weekend. Whittingham added that Idaho may be the most improved team in the nation this year.
Whittingham called CSU "hard-nosed, physical, and very good up front on the offensive line." He added that the Ram's bread-and-butter is to pound you with the running game then go at you with the pass.
Defensively, he said the Rams are much improved in that phase as well. CSU has lost its last two, but has a three-game winning streak at home. The Rams, however, have lost the last three against Utah.
Saturday's game is the first of two straight on the road. Whittingham said, "If you want to win a championship, you have to win on the road."
The Utes follow CSU with a road game at UNLV the following Saturday.
With Asiata now out of the picture, Utah's primary offensive goal is to solidify its run game. Whittingham said he's confident in Eddie Wide as the main carrier, but unlike Asiata, who could handle the load of the offense, Whittingham sees Wide as a runner that will carry 16-20 times per game.
Shaky Smithson will get carries like he did against Louisville. Smithson has experience in that area from his days at East Los Angeles Community College. Another option, Sausan Shakerin is questionable for CSU with a shoulder injury.
Kickoff in Fort Collins on Sonny Lubick field at Hughes Stadium is set for Saturday at 4:00 p.m.