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Utah football notebook: Utes maintain focused approach during rivalry week

Published: Friday, Sept. 20 2013 4:55 p.m. MDT

Utah quarterback Travis Wilson fires a pass during pre game warmups before the start of the Utes game against Weber State at Rice-Eccles Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013.  (Matt Gade, Deseret News) Utah quarterback Travis Wilson fires a pass during pre game warmups before the start of the Utes game against Weber State at Rice-Eccles Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013. (Matt Gade, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — It is, but it isn’t.

Although Utah coach Kyle Whittingham acknowledged everyone knew it was rivalry week, he insisted it was just business as usual up on the hill.

“It’s the same as every week like I’ve said. You’ve got to believe me on that,” Whittingham said at his weekly press conference on Monday. “I’m not trying to sit here and hide something or pretend. We treat it the same.”

It’s an approach, he added, that has worked for the Utes. They’ve won the last three games, as well as eight of the past 11 meetings against the Cougars.

“We’re just going to continue with the same m.o.,” Whittingham said.

The coach’s nephew, though, added a twist.

“You want to treat every game the same. You want to treat every opponent the same,” said Utah linebacker Jason Whittingham. “But we all know that BYU is maybe the most sought-after game of the year. We all want to do great in that game.”

WILSON’S DEVELOPMENT: Utah co-offensive coordinator Dennis Erickson was pleased with how quarterback Travis Wilson played in last week’s 51-48 overtime loss to Oregon State. The sophomore passed for 279 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for 142 yards and three scores.

Aside from the three interceptions, which he noted weren’t all Wilson’s fault, Erickson said it was an outstanding performance. Wilson drew a lot of praise for being such a competitor with a will to win.

“I’m excited about his and our future with him at quarterback,” Erickson said.

GOING BACK: Three of Utah’s coaches — Whittingham, defensive coordinator Kalani Sitake and passing game coordinator Aaron Roderick — are former BYU players. Roderick, who played for the Cougars from 1997-98, said it’s not really much of a homecoming any more.

“It’s a big game, but it’s not weird to go back or weird to be on the opposing sideline any more. I’ve been through that enough times,” he said. “It was the first time, but that’s it. I got over that a long time ago.”

Email: dirk@desnews.com Twitter: @DirkFacer

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