Utah Utes football notebook: Eric Weddle continues to support Utah program
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SAN DIEGO — Eric Weddle did it again.
For the second consecutive week, the San Diego Chargers' safety was able to support his alma mater on the sidelines. The former Utah Utes star made the journey to Notre Dame during a bye week. This time around, Weddle joined the team at Qualcomm Stadium.
"I live for this," he said.
The Chargers host the Denver Broncos on Monday Night Football.
"He is just with us and supportive. He's on the sidelines and just being a part of the program," said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham. "He's been a great ambassador for us ever since he left here. He's a great guy to have around, the players really enjoy having him around."
Weddle, he added, is welcome anytime.
"The red carpet is always out," Whittingham said. "Any time we can get our former players back, which is quite often — a lot of them come back and watch games — that's a good thing."
Weddle, who was joined on the sideline by Utah's 2005 Fiesta Bowl Defensive MVP Steve Fifita and other former teammates, acknowledged he loves the program.
"It's a big family and that's the way it should be with any program, especially with us. That's the way I treat it," said Weddle, who vows to try and see the Utes play whenever he has the opportunity. "I would do anything for these kids, along with Coach Whit and the coaching staff."
WET WEATHER: It wasn't exactly typical San Diego weather for Saturday night's game. There was a steady rain from early morning until a couple of hours before kickoff. Then just as the teams came out onto the field 45 minutes before kickoff, it started raining quite hard, sending fans scrambling for cover. The all-day rain didn't affect the field, however, because the field was covered all day, although a light, to sometimes heavy rain fell on and off throughout the game.
A week before in South Bend, the Utes had to put up with a steady rain throughout the first half of their game with Notre Dame.
REPLAY SNAFU: San Diego State fans are still mad about "replay-gate," the botched replay-booth decision in the BYU game that kept a Cougar drive alive in the fourth quarter of a 24-21 BYU win last month.
They nearly had another one to be upset about early in Saturday's game with Utah.
On Utah's first offensive play, Jordan Wynn passed to Shaky Smithson for a would-be 14-yard gain. The ball appeared to bounce off the ground, but the Utes quickly got off another play, a seven-yard run by Eddie Wide, only to have the officials wave it off and say the Aztecs challenged the previous play.
This time, Whittingham was upset, presumably because the call came so late. However, the call was correct, even if it appeared to be late.
BOWL-BOUND: With seven wins coming into the game, San Diego State has its first winning season since 1998 and will be going to its first bowl game since being invited to the Las Vegas Bowl that year.
According to SDSU sources, the Aztecs are a shoo-in to be invited to the Poinsettia Bowl at Qualcomm on Dec. 23 to play Navy, although the official announcement won't come for two more weeks. The Aztecs have never played in the hometown Poinsettia Bowl, which the Utes have played in two of the past three years.
FACES IN THE CROWD: Scouts from the NFL's Atlanta Falcons, Buffalo Bills, Denver Broncos, Green Bay Packers, New England Patriots and New Orleans Saints attended the game, as did representatives from the CFL's Calgary Stampeders and San Diego bowl games (Holiday and Poinsettia). ... National League Manager of the Year Bud Black of the San Diego Padres was among the sideline guests of the Aztecs.
EXTRA POINTS: Joe Phillips replaced Sean Sellwood as the Utes' punter and pinned the Aztecs at the 2-yard line on his first punt. Sellwood had his third blocked punt of the season last week against Notre Dame. ... SDSU's starting right tackle is junior Kurtis Gunther, the younger brother of former Utah captain and center Kyle Gunther. ... Greg Bird made his second start as the Utes opted to go with three safeties and two linebackers. ... Approximately 1,000 Ute fans bought tickets for Saturday night's contest, according to Utah ticket manager Zack Lassiter, and more bought tickets in San Diego. ... The announced attendance was 34,951.
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