Utah Utes football: Utes feel like they got their swagger back
SALT LAKE CITY — Utah got what it wanted in San Diego, a much-needed victory and momentum heading into this Saturday's game against BYU.
"It was real important," cornerback Brandon Burton said after the Utes snapped a two-game losing streak with a 38-34 win over San Diego State. " I think if you drop three it just demoralizes you."
Instead of that, now, Utah (9-2, 6-1) has restored confidence.
"I know we've got our swagger back," Burton said before the team left Qualcomm Stadium. "We're just going to try to take it into next week."
On Monday, Utah began preparing for BYU and installing the game plan. The media were not allowed to watch practice inside the Spence Eccles Field House.
"Business as usual," said head coach Kyle Whittingham, who acknowledged the excitement of the rivalry game will build throughout the week.
"As much as anything else this is the last opportunity for this group to play at home," Whittingham said while praising Utah's most successful senior class (41 wins). "They've done a lot for our school."
"That loss last year still bothers me. I know it bothers Coach Whitt. I know it bothers everyone on this team. The last couple of losses, the way we've lost to them, just have been just kind of flukey, heartbreaking and so (there's) a lot behind this game"
— Utah defensive end Christian Cox
Three prominent members of Utah's coaching staff are former BYU players. Head coach Kyle Whittingham was a linebacker for the Cougars from 1978-81. Co-offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick was a BYU receiver from 1997-98 and defensive coordinator Kalani Sitake played fullback at the Y. in 1994 and from 1997-2000.
Starting defensive tackle Sealver Siliga, who banged his leg in practice last week and did not play against San Diego State, is expected to play on Saturday. Tight end Brad Clifford (shoulder) will be back as well. Defensive ends Junior Tui'one (calf) and Trevor Reilly (ankle) are probable and doubtful, respectively. ... The Utes will honor 18 seniors before their final game at Rice-Eccles Stadium on Saturday — Clifford, Tui'one, Neli A'asa, Matt Asiata, Jereme Brooks, Daniel Bukarau, Terrance Cain, Lamar Chapman, Christian Cox, Chad Manis, Joe Phillips, Caleb Schlauderaff, Shaky Smithson, Justin Taplin-Ross, Zane Taylor, Walter Watts, Eddie Wide and Kamaron Yancy. ... Fans are encouraged to bring canned items or make a monetary contribution to the Utah Food Bank outside the stadium Saturday. ... Junior linebacker Chaz Walker leads the Utes with 89 tackles, 23 more than anyone else on the team.
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