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Utah Utes football notebook: Utes, Wildcats strong on offense where defenses are weak

Published: Monday, Oct. 31 2011 9:08 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — When Utah and Arizona meet on the football field this week, it will mark quite a contrast in styles.

The Utes are primarily a good running team, while the Wildcats rely on their passing.

And the weakness of the Utes' defense is their pass defense, while Arizona gives up a ton of yards on the ground.

So the game could come down to whether Utah's run game (126 yards per game) will be more efficient against Arizona's porous run defense (177 ypg) than the Wildcats' passing game (375 ypg) will be against Utah's pass defense (234 ypg).

The Wildcats and quarterback Nick Foles certainly have the Utes' attention.

"Nick Foles is a classic drop-back passer, extremely accurate. I think he's leading the nation in completions per game and he has excellent touch on the football," said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham. "They're a spread offense, four wide about 50 percent of the time, and they have a lot of skill and speed on the field."

35 IS RIGHT: Earlier this year after John White ran 36 times against Pitt, Whittingham said that was too many carries.

When he was reminded of that at Monday's press conference and that White had just run 35 times against Oregon State, Whittingham quickly replied, "Thirty-five is the right number," as the assembled media erupted in laughter.

"If we can keep it to 35 or less, we're in good shape," he said to more laughs.

He did get serious, though, when it was pointed out that the Utes are one play away from not having White or an experienced back behind him.

"(Running back) is one position where there is a pretty big gap, but you've got to just keep moving forward," Whittingham said. "We can't sit here and worry about protecting guys, we just have to do what we can to win."

INJURIES: Whittingham confirmed that linebacker J.J. Williams' career at Utah is over after the senior from Colorado suffered a broken foot against Oregon State. Also, sophomore Latu Heimuli, who had been moved from the defensive line to the offensive line, where he was splitting time with Miles Mason, is also out with a broken foot he suffered during pregame warmups.

Five Utes are already out for the season with injuries — quarterback Jordan Wynn, safety Keith McGill, punt returner Charles Henderson, tight end Dallin Rogers and linebacker Boo Andersen.

UTE NOTES: With linebackers Williams and Andersen out, Dave Fagergren, a junior out of Highland High, and V.J. Feheko, a redshirt freshman out of Hawaii, have moved up the depth chart and should see more action this week. … The latest ESPN bowl-game projections have Utah going to the Sun Bowl to play a team from the ACC. … The Utes have three Arizona natives on their roster who will be going back to their home state this week — receiver Luke Matthews (Phoenix), safety Greg Bird (Mesa) and kicker Kenny Golladay (Mesa). … The Utes and Wildcats haven't played since 2005, Whittingham's first game as the Utes' head coach, when Utah won 27-24, holding off a late Arizona rally.

email: sor@desnews.com

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