SALT LAKE CITY — Utah cornerback Lamar Chapman is driven. The senior dedicates every game to his brother, Raymar, who was killed in a violent crime in 2006 at age 16.
Chapman stands much taller than his 5-foot-8 frame. He enters Saturday's game against TCU as the Utes' leader in tackles-for-loss (9.5) and sacks (5.5).
"Chap is a valuable player for us," said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham, who added that Chapman's best asset is his quickness. "He is a joy to coach. That guy is full speed every day. He studies film and works hard in practice."
Chapman's "competitive nature" also is something Whittingham appreciates.
"I think he's underestimated by a lot of people," Whittingham said. "But after they play him then they realize how talented and how good he is."
Getting discovered is Chapman's aim as he eyes a career at the next level. The national attention surrounding this week's game should help.
"This is a great opportunity for a lot of guys to go out there and show what they can do," Chapman said. "Our defense, offense and special teams — the whole nine yards."
And there's more.
"I think it's real great for our fans. They are going to love it out there and I'm just looking forward to it," Chapman said. "This is by far the biggest game I've ever played in my life. So I'm just trying to stay cool."
To combat the anticipation, Chapman has tried to keep busy away from the practice field and school.
"I'm watching film until I get tired and just going to sleep," he said.
A national awakening may be dawning.
SAME THING, SORT OF: A week after facing Air Force's triple option, Utah's defense faces a much different challenge in TCU's multi-faceted attack.
However, it may be the same thing only different.
"They're both kind of assignment football, just on different aspects. The triple option is definitely hard to prepare for but so is the speed and the agility of TCU," said linebacker Chaz Walker. "But I feel like we have a good game plan. If we execute correctly then good things can happen."
CORSO'S CALL: While many associated with the Utah football program are wondering which team ESPN College Football GameDay's Lee Corso will pick to win Saturday's game, starting center Zane Taylor isn't one of them. He's not concerned about which mascot head the former coach will sport at the end of the show.
"I could care less," Taylor said while noting that he doesn't mind the underdog role.
Besides, the senior explained, it's more fun to pull an upset.
NEAR PERFECT: Utah quarterback Jordan Wynn doesn't think it will take a perfect game to beat TCU, just a "pretty darn close one" to get the job done.
"They are that good of a team. They deserve all their rankings," Wynn said. "It's definitely going to take a team victory."
QB EDGE: When the teams last met in Salt Lake City, Utah had a senior quarterback in Brian Johnson and TCU had a sophomore in Andy Dalton. Now the roles are reversed. Dalton is a senior and Utah's Wynn is a sophomore.
Whittingham repeatedly has noted that Wynn is a competitor and looks forward to big games. The coach, however, acknowledged there's a benefit to having a veteran taking the snaps.
"It's a huge advantage and a huge value. Having an experienced quarterback, first of all, is a big plus," Whittingham said. "But a senior like Andy Dalton, like we had a couple of years ago in Brian, is a big advantage."
TWO OF A KIND: TCU coach Gary Patterson sees a lot of similarities between the Horned Frogs and Utes.2 comments on this story
"I think both programs try to do it the same way," Patterson said while noting that the teams show class off the field, play their hearts out on it and then when it's done, it's done.
Patterson added that it's a pleasure to listen to the Utes talk, whether it was at MWC Media Days or any other time.
"I've been very impressed with coach Whittingham and his staff and the kind of players that they have there," Patterson said.
The respect is mutual.
"They recruit great athletes. They have a great coaching staff," said Utah center Zane Taylor. "They've got it all. They've got all points covered when it comes to being a complete, solid football team."