Utah offensive lineman Zane Beadles has a lot of ties to Wyoming.

Both of his parents are alums and his stepfather, Joe Legerski, is currently the head coach of the women's basketball team.

And that's not all.

Beadles was born in Casper and lived in the state until he was 3 years old.

The connections, noted the sophomore, make games against the Cowboys a little special.

Saturday's meeting at Rice-Eccles Stadium, though, carries added significance.

Beadles is still smarting over last year's 31-15 loss in Laramie.

Quarterback Brett Ratliff was sacked six times in the setback. Utah entered the game without having given up a single sack over the first six games of the season.

"I think we came in with a good game plan and everything, but we didn't execute like we needed to last year," Beadles said. "We were riding the no-sack streak. That wasn't necessarily as big a deal as just giving ourselves an opportunity to win the game. And our execution last year didn't put us in a position to win."

Utah's offense struggled. The Utes managed just eight first downs in the game and averaged only 2-2 yards per play.

"As soon as that game ended last year it put a bad taste in my mouth," said Beadles, who has been waiting for this game to roll around and is excited for the opportunity to avenge last season's loss.

Beadles, who moved over to left tackle from guard when Jason Boone was lost for the year with a knee injury in camp, is part of an offensive line that is credited with much of Utah's success during the current five-game winning streak.

Quarterback Brian Johnson said the line's play has been huge.

"Everything we do starts with those guys, and for them to be as consistent as they have been throughout the year and to play as well as they have been has been absolutely unbelievable — especially considering the changes that we had to make during two-a-days," Johnson noted. "To gel so quickly, the way they did, is a credit to coach (Charlie) Dickey, and it's definitely a credit to the players who stepped up to the challenge and answered it."

Utah's starting line, featuring Beadles, left guard Caleb Schlauderauff, center Kyle Gunther, right guard Robert Conley and right tackle Dustin Hensel, has flourished since Darrell Mack became the top running back. The Utes are 6-0 when he runs for 100 yards or more.

It's something, Beadles explained, the offensive line takes a lot of pride in.

Johnson added that Utah's 322 rushing yards in the 27-3 win at CSU on Oct. 27 are tough to beat — any time.

And it all begins in the trenches.

"Everything starts and ends up front — on both sides of the ball," head coach Kyle Whittingham said. "If you can control the line of scrimmage, you've always got a chance."

Case in point: Last season's lopsided loss to the Cowboys.

"If you get your butt handed to you up front, you saw what happened," Whittingham continued.

Although he declined to say whether this year's line is better than the 2006 version, Whittingham knows they've been playing real well lately. Each week is different and filled with different variables, he explained, so the bottom line is execution — something this group has done well for several weeks.

"There's no other position in football, nor a position group, that relies more on chemistry and cohesiveness than the offensive line," Whittingham said. "You can only do so much in practice situations. It's game situations where they really develop that."

EXTRA POINTS: Junior receiver Bradon Godfrey, who has seen limited action because of a bruised back, benefited from the bye week and is expected to be back in the rotation. So, too, is junior receiver Freddie Brown. He didn't make the trip to Colorado State because of a concussion ... Whittingham said today's practice will be the heaviest of the week as the Utes get back in the swing of things. They practiced just three times over the bye week ... This will be the 80th meeting between Utah and Wyoming, a series that dates back to 1904.

On the air

Wyoming (5-4, 2-3) at Utah (6-3, 3-2)

Saturday, 1:30 p.m.

TV: CSTV

Radio: 700AM


E-mail: [email protected]