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Utah Utes football notebook: Utes to return to AT&T Park, site of the 2005 Emerald Bowl

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 19 2011 7:20 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah won't be going to Berkeley for its first Pac-12 football game at California. The Golden Bears have a new home this season. While 88-year-old Memorial Stadium undergoes a $321 million retrofit and renovation, they've set up shop at AT&T Park in San Francisco — home to Major League Baseball's Giants.

It's a place the Utes know well. They capped Kyle Whittingham's first season as head coach with a 38-10 win over Georgia Tech in the 2005 Emerald Bowl.

"That was a good day," Whittingham said. "(I have) good memories of that day."

The Utes excelled on both sides of the ball in that game. Wide receiver Travis LaTendresse scored four touchdowns, quarterback Brett Ratliff passed for 381 yards, running back Quinton Ganther ran for 120 yards and defensive back Eric Weddle held Georgia Tech star Calvin Johnson to just two catches and 19 yards receiving.

"We had a great game that afternoon," said Whittingham, who also remembered that both teams were on the same sideline at the baseball facility.

That won't be the case this time around, however. Adjustments have been made to put the teams on opposite sidelines.

Another difference will be the fans. This is a Cal home game and the vast majority of Saturday's crowd is expected to back the Golden Bears.

"I think it's definitely a road game (for us) — even though it's not on their campus," Whittingham said.

PITT PLAN: Offensive coordinator Norm Chow explained why he opted to have running back John White IV carry the ball 36 times in last week's 26-14 win at windy Pittsburgh.

"It was blowing like heck. We didn't want to give up the field position," Chow said. "To me, when you play a game like that against a good opponent like that in those conditions, you have to play like you do in the NFL. You've got to play field position."

It's a matter of doing what you have to do to win, he explained.

"They weren't going to score on us unless we screwed it up and gave them the short field, which I did not want to do," Chow said. "Because of that (White) needed to carry the ball."

And carry it White did. The junior netted 171 yards in the victory.

"He's doing a terrific job," Chow said.

GOING BOWLING: With a 3-3 overall record and six Pac-12 games left to play, Utah's bowl situation isn't clear and won't be for several weeks. Ultimately going to a ninth straight bowl, though, is a big deal.

"It's important. There's a lot of reasons," Whittingham said. "Not just the bowl game itself, but the extra practice time. It gives you more exposure. There's a lot of things that are positive about getting into bowl season."

Looking ahead at the possibilities, however, isn't something the Utes are about to do.

"Cal-Berkeley is the only game on our mind. I can't even tell you who is next," Whittingham said. "I honestly couldn't tell you who is in two weeks because it's all about the task at hand, which is Cal-Berkeley."

EXTRA POINTS: Quarterback Jordan Wynn will have season-ending surgery on his non-throwing shoulder on Thursday. He won't be making the journey to California this weekend, but is expected to accompany the team to all other games. ... Whittingham said there's a "strong possibility" that running back Tauni Vakapuna (ankle) will make the trip to San Francisco. A decision on wide receiver DeVonte Christopher (ankle) won't be made until Thursday and he's still considered questionable for Saturday. ... Tight end Dallin Rogers is scheduled for season-ending knee surgery next week. ... The Utah-Oregon State game at Rice-Eccles Stadium on Oct. 29 will kickoff at 5 p.m.

Email: dirk@desnews.com

Twitter: @DirkFacer

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