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Utah Utes football: Utes say John Cullen finishes plays, isn't a dirty player

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 18 2011 12:06 a.m. MDT

Utah offensive lineman John Cullen is accused of being a dirty player by a Pitt player.

Stuart Johnson, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — First names aren't the only things John Cullen and John Stockton now have in common.

The Utah offensive lineman received a non-flattering description from an opponent after the Utes' 26-14 win at Pittsburgh, and it's one the Jazz's Hall of Fame point guard had lobbed his way once in a while.

Pitt defensive tackle Chas Alecxih claimed the 6-foot-5, 300-pound Cullen smacked him with a blindsided hit after a play ended late in Saturday's game. The incident resulted in a 15-yard penalty against Utah and invoked this comment about Cullen from the Panther senior.

"He was a dirty, dirty player," Alecxih told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

That accusation might sound familiar to Jazz fans who occasionally heard that same word used by some non-Jazz fans in describing Stockton's gritty play.

The venting lineman said Pitt believed coming in that Utah was "pretty dirty," but it was Cullen's actions that got his blood boiling. Alecxih said it's the angriest he's been in his college career.

"Too bad I wasn't in such control of myself," he said, "or I would have hit him back."

Utah coach Kyle Whittingham's response to the accusation?

"No comment."

Fellow lineman Tony Bergstrom, however, came to Cullen's defense.

"It's one of those things I can't blame him for, because the whistle hadn't blown," Bergstrom said. "It's one of the characteristics of an aggressive team. You're going to get a couple of those flags in a game because you're trying to be aggressive.

"They say 'dirty.' I say we finish," he added. "It's the way you see it."

Bergstrom emphasized that Utes keep battling and pushing the pile until they hear a whistle. After reviewing Saturday's game film, he was "fired up" how strongly the Utes finished plays.

"Other teams may see that as dirty," he said. "But this isn't a gentleman's sport. This isn't tennis. This isn't an old-fashioned duel. This is football. It's a physical game.

"I can understand where they think that, but I don't think we're doing much after the whistle, and if we did it got flagged."

Email: jody@desnews.com

Twitter: DJJazzyJody

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