SALT LAKE CITY — Utah's Kyle Whittingham and TCU's Gary Patterson complimented each other's programs in Tuesday's weekly MWC Coaches Teleconference.
Understandably, Whittingham and Patterson fielded the most media questions as Saturday's showdown at Rice-Eccles Stadium approaches.
"They're an exceptional football team. They're strong in all phases of the game, extremely well-coached, and I believe they are even better this year than last year," Whittingham said of the Horned Frogs. "So we definitely have our work cut out for us. But our guys are looking forward to playing the game on Saturday and we'll see what happens."
Patterson had similar thoughts about the Utes. He noted that his program has a lot of respect for Whittingham and his team for the way they play.
"Every battle we've ever had with them has been an unbelievable one," Patterson said. "And it's too bad it's all going to be over here. But this is going to be a great Saturday and we're looking forward to it. This is what football is all about and so we're trying to get ready."
Both teams are undefeated this season, and the winner will have a leg up in the quest for the conference championship, as well as a Bowl Championship Series berth.
GOOD GEAR: Whittingham wouldn't say anyone was "giddy" about it. He did, however, note that the new Under Armour jerseys the players will wear on Saturday are popular with the players. Whittingham said they're excited to have a new look. The Utes will sport black jerseys with camouflage trim and shoes to support the Wounded Warrior Project, a non-profit organization that assists U.S. service personnel injured in combat.
"It's a great cause. The cause behind the uniforms is much more important than the uniforms themselves," Whittingham said. "So our guys really take that to heart. ... Anything we can do to help that cause, we are all for it."
The Utes will have wounded soldiers with them Friday and Saturday as they prepare for the TCU game.
Approximately 25,000 flags will be handed out at Rice-Eccles Stadium. The National Anthem will be accompanied by 50 active and retired soldiers holding a huge flag across the field.
MORE RESPECT: After last Saturday's 28-23 win over Air Force, Whittingham had plenty of praise for the Falcons.
"They never quit, ever. Thank goodness for that. These are guys that are defending our country," he said before noting what he told his team about the cadets. "When their season is over, they aren't going to the NFL Combine or going to work for IBM. They're strapping into an F-16. So a football game is not going to intimidate them. Nothing in a football game is going to intimidate those guys, and we've got to play the entire 60 minutes."