The Utes have had real causes to fight for in their first two football games. Utah State had beaten them twice in a row, so the Utes had to take care of that. Louisville coach John L. Smith was 3-1 against Utah coach Ron McBride, and Saturday's Ute win salved that hurt some.
This Saturday in Rice-Eccles Stadium will be more of the same.The 2-0 Utes open Western Athletic Conference play against 0-1 Hawaii, the "home" school for 13 members of the current Ute game roster: Clifford Russell, Sitivi Laulu, Wes Tufaga, Darnell Ar-cen-eaux, Ryan Kaneshiro, Donny Utu, Stewart Carvallo, Kautai Olevao, Rod Taleai, Taulia Lave, Ed Ta'amu, Lauvaule Sape and Maake Kemoeatu. Offensive coordinator Tommy Lee is also Hawaiian.
"They're excited and happy and can't wait," observes Californian Pene Talamaivao, starting nose-guard, about his Ute teammates from The Islands.
For the rest of the Utes, Talamaivao says the incentive is to "win the WAC," and that race starts Saturday. Also, Utah hasn't been 3-0 since 1994.
For coach Ron McBride, opening the WAC against Hawaii is big. "There are a lot of recruiting implications involved," he said.
This week, though, the opponent has as much of a grudge as the Utes do.
It's the first time that a member of the Breakaway Eight will play a member of the Leftover WAC, so there's a lot of indignation on Hawaii's part.
And, says Talamaivao, a lot of the Rainbow Warriors who stayed home to play football look at Utah's Hawaiians as traitors.
"Now that they're out of the WAC, I hope the local boys stop going there and decide to play here," said Rainbow senior Ben Bright in a Honolulu Star-Bulletin story Tuesday written by Paul Ar-nett.
Arnett also noted that two Rainbows - Craig Stutsman and Shawn Withy-Allen - attended a Ute summer camp, and that running back Afatia Thompson looks forward to meeting Arceneaux again. Thompson's high school beat Arceneaux's in 1995.
Arnett's story also said: "Even two players (Hawaii coach Fred) vonAppen ran off after they ran afoul academically . . . are trying to make a comeback in the land of the Utes."
Hawaii starting junior quarterback Dan Robinson is a Utahn from American Fork. He transferred to Hawaii from Ricks College.
POW: Sophomore corner Andre Dyson - who had two interceptions, two pass breakups, a fumble recovery and four unassisted tackles - is the second straight Ute to be WAC-Pacific defensive player of the week. Linebacker Kautai Olevao won the award the last week.
SHAKE, SHAKE, SHAKE: Even many who were looking for it didn't see it. Reporters on the field, fans in the stands and moi in the pressbox missed it. But McBride says he did briefly shake Louisville coach John L. Smith's hand Saturday night following Utah's 45-22 win to open Rice-Eccles Stadium. "I did," said McBride, adding pointedly, "I didn't say anything to him."
DOUBTFUL: McBride said Tuesday he thinks senior tight end C.J. Johnson, who broke his left fibula in Saturday's first quarter, fits the NCAA criteria to get a medical hardship ruling and an extra season to play. Trainer Bill Bean was less optimistic, saying those decrees are far from automatic.