Utah football notebook: Heart paved way for Utes' fierce finish
EL PASO, Texas — DeVonte Christopher didn't skip a beat, so to speak, when asked how the Utah Utes rallied from two touchdowns down in the fourth quarter to defeat Georgia Tech 30-27 in overtime in the 78th annual Sun Bowl.
The junior attributed it to "that heart" that the team possesses.
"It starts with our coach. That's Coach Whit. He's a competitor. He isn't with all that nonsense," Christopher said. "We are going to compete week in and week out."
Saturday's victory, he added, was "just a testimony to our whole season" after an 0-4 start in Pac-12 play.
"It isn't about how you start. It's how you finish that thing," Christopher said. "This one is going to be remembered, how we finished."
TOP TACKLER: Utah senior Chaz Walker made a game-high 15 tackles to finish the season with 118. The middle linebacker capped his career by leading the Utes in stops for two straight years.
"It's nice to have that and stuff like that," Walker said. "But I'd give back half of my tackles to be able to play in that (conference) championship game and have a chance to win the Pac-12 championship."
Utah's 17-14 loss to Colorado on Nov. 25 cost the Utes a berth in the inaugural Pac-12 title game against Oregon.
NO COMMENT: Utah athletics director Chris Hill declined to comment on the KSL.com report that the Sun Bowl would be the last time the Utes don the drum-and-feather logo on their football helmets. Hill referred to a statement made by associate athletics director Liz Abel on Friday.
"Every year we re-evaluate the drum- and-feather logo and we have nothing official to report at this time," she said.
Hill did, however, note that the Pac-12 has not pressured Utah to change the logo or "Utes" nickname. The Pac-12, he explained, doesn't influence local decision making. "This is not something that they would be involved in," Hill said.
A source close to the situation noted that pressure to make the rumored changes has come from within the university.
MONEY MATTERS: In a worst-case scenario, Utah's first bowl trip as a Pac-12 team will result in a "break-even" situation. That's what Hill had to say about the Utes' first appearance in the Sun Bowl since 1939.
"It puts us in a better economic situation that we would be in with the Mountain West," Hill said of the Pac-12's expense sharing formula.
EXTRA POINTS: The attendance was 48,123. ... Jon Hays threw a career-high three touchdown passes. He was intercepted once, his first pick in six games. ... Christopher's 68-yard kickoff return in the third quarter was a career best. ... Offensive coordinator Norm Chow caught a flight to Los Angeles after the game. The new Hawaii head coach is heading to his home in California to interview candidates for his coaching staff. ... Safety Greg Bird made his first career start. ... The Utes are now 2-0 in the Sun Bowl. Their first win was a 26-0 victory over New Mexico in 1939.
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