Utah Utes notebook: Utes determined to go bowling, finish the season with a bang
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — As a four-year starter, Utah senior center Tevita Stevens is determined to finish his career the right way — by going bowling. He's gone every year and is eager to make another appearance.
As such, Stevens vows to do whatever it takes to get the Utes out of a 3-5 hole over the final four weeks of the regular season. They need three more wins to become bowl eligible.
"We still have a chance to turn it around and make this a great season," Stevens said. "It's my senior year and I just definitely want to go out with a bang. Nothing to lose, just go and play my heart out."
Stevens acknowledges that the five setbacks this season have been frustrating. As competitors, he said, they don't like to lose any games.
Now, with the season winding down, the Utes are in a must-win situation. They host Washington State on Saturday and travel to Seattle to face Washington next week. Then comes the home finale against Arizona and a trip to Colorado.
A sweep would extend Utah's run of consecutive winning seasons and bowl appearances to 10.
Stevens said the plan to make it happen centers on doing the little things.
"If we do those things right, the big things will take care of themselves," Stevens said. "We know that by focusing on those things and making sure everyone's doing everything right, we'll get this turned around. We'll get it going in the right direction."
ANOTHER ONE: So much for the Pac-12 being the "conference of quarterbacks." Receivers are the ones drawing a lot of attention this season. Since Pac-12 play opened, Utah has contended with the likes of USC stars Marqise Lee and Robert Woods, UCLA's Shaquelle Evans, Oregon State's Brandin Cooks and Markus Wheaton, and California's Keenan Allen.
This week it is Washington State's Marquess Wilson, whom Utah coach Kyle Whittingham calls another in a long list of formidable receivers in the conference.
"Whoever draws him is going to be tested," Whittingham said.
Wilson leads the pass-happy Cougars in receiving with 92.5 yards per game, ranking him fifth in the Pac-12 and 17th in the nation.
GETTING SACKS: Senior cornerback Ryan Lacy really likes it when the defense dials up an opportunity for the corners to blitz.
"When we get corner blitzes, that's what we love to do because we want to get sacks just like the d-line," Lacy said. "So when we get to the quarterback it's a big deal."
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