SALT LAKE CITY — True freshman Eric Rowe made quite an impact in his college football debut. The starting free safety made nine tackles in Utah's 27-10 season-opening win over Montana State — second only to linebacker Chaz Walker's 10 stops.
"He played well. He played confident," said Utah safeties coach Morgan Scalley. "He was physical and I was excited for him."
Rowe was pretty pleased with his performance as well. However, he acknowledged making a few mistakes and having some first-game jitters.
"I need to work on staying over the top and that's what I'm doing this week in practice," Rowe said before noting how he felt during last week's game. "I was wide-eyed. I was looking around. The stadium was loud, a lot of people. I'm not used to that. So I thought that was pretty cool."
Rowe handled the situation well, which didn't surprise Scalley.
"We wouldn't have out him out there if we didn't think he was ready," he said.
Scalley added that Rowe was part of a good safety group in the game. Keith McGill and Michael Walker also drew praise.
ANOTHER STRONG DEBUT: Sophomore Brian Blechen intercepted two passes in his first game at linebacker. He was a Freshman All-American at safety in 2010.
"I think I played well. There was a couple of things I did wrong, stuff I saw on film like nervous mistakes that I can go back and fix," Blechen said. "But there's a couple of plays that came my way and I wanted to make them and I did. So I was happy with that."
TROJAN TUNE: Part of Utah's preparations for Saturday's game is the constant blaring of the USC fight song "Tribute to Troy/Fight On" during practice.
"It's really irritating. It's got that monotone, you know what I'm saying. It drives you insane," said Utah offensive line coach Tim Davis, who was a USC assistant from 2002-04. "But I think what's important is that our guys kind of disregard it, keep it going. Keep their eyes on what they've got to do. Keep their eyes on their job and concentrate."4 comments on this story
COMPANY MAN: Whittingham didn't bite when asked what he thought about Maryland's much-maligned uniforms and helmets that the Terps wore on national television Monday.
"Hey Maryland is an Under Armour school," Whittingham said. "We're an Under Armour school. We love Under Armour."
EXTRA POINTS: The Utes will attend Janelle Tongaonevai's viewing Thursday evening. The wife of defensive lineman Ron Tongaonevai was killed in a car accident after Utah's win over Montana State one week ago. … Utah is 9-2 in games televised on Versus. … The Utes are scheduled to fly to Los Angeles Friday afternoon.