SALT LAKE CITY — Utah wide receiver Dres Anderson is really looking forward to Saturday's game against UCLA.
"It's special. Growing up, I went to all the UCLA games," Anderson said. "I was in the Rose Bowl all the time while I was in Pasadena. So it's going to be fun going back there."
Anderson, who played his high school ball in Riverside, Calif., has deep ties to the area. His father, Willie "Flipper" Anderson, led the Bruins in receiving yardage in 1986 and 1987. He wound up with 2,023 career receiving yards before embarking on a 10-year career in the NFL.
Dres Anderson will follow in his father's collegiate footsteps by taking the field at the Rose Bowl. UCLA has played its home games at the stadium since 1982.
"It's going to be my first time playing there, so it's going to be a great environment," Anderson said. "All my family is coming. I'm real excited. It's going to be a great day."
The Utes certainly hope so. They're in need of a win after back-to-back Pac-12 losses to Arizona State and USC.
"Our football team showed definite improvement last week against USC and we need to build on that this week as we face a very good UCLA team on the road," said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham. "Our players and coaches are working hard on getting the season turned around and getting back on track."
And then there's the whole location, location, location thing.
"Playing in the Rose Bowl is a great experience and we have a lot of fans and alumni in Southern California," Whittingham added.
Quarterback Jon Hays is eager for the opportunity to play in the historic venue.
"It's exciting," he said. "It's one of those iconic stadiums in college football, so I can't wait to get out there and compete."
The key to competing with the Bruins, Hays said, isn't all that complicated — even if the Utes do enter the game ranked last in the Pac-12 in total offense (299.40 ypg) and 11th in both passing offense (194.40 ypg) and rushing offense (105 ypg).
"We've just got to execute," Hays said. "The only stat I really look at is wins and losses, so we've just got to get a win this week and get things going."
Anderson agreed about the offensive execution and added that the Utes need to make sure they keep momentum throughout the game. Things, obviously, haven't gone as smoothly as expected for Utah's offense.
"It is frustrating. I'm not going to lie because our offense is equipped with all kinds of weapons," Anderson said. "We've got great players and playmakers. We've got great leaders. We've just got to make sure we put our game together."
Things clicked last season when Utah defeated UCLA 31-6 at Rice-Eccles Stadium. The Utes, though, didn't fare so well in their last visit to the Rose Bowl. They dropped a 31-10 decision to the Bruins in 2006.
"Hopefully we can change that," Whittingham said.
Utes on the air
Utah (2-3, 0-2 Pac 12) at UCLA (4-2, 2-2)
Saturday, 1 p.m. MDT
Rose Bowl, Pasadena, Calif.
TV: FOX Radio: 700 AM