If all goes as planned, Utah quarterback Brian Johnson won't have to make a halftime speech in Saturday's homecoming game against Weber State.

After a subpar showing over the first two quarters of last week's 30-23 win at Air Force, the senior captain addressed his teammates and took responsibility for a seven-point halftime deficit.

"He's a stand-up guy," said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham. "That's his nature. He's the team leader."

It's a role Johnson takes seriously. He didn't think twice about stepping up and speaking at halftime.

"It was my responsibility being in the position I am on this team. Something had to be said by me," Johnson said. "I think the guys responded well. I responded well to it. We came out and did what we had to do in the second half."

Inconsistency, however, is something the Texan vows to combat as the 17th-ranked Utes enter the second of three four-game segments of the season.

"I take it as a personal challenge this week and the rest of the season to go out and play the best that I can," said Johnson, who has quarterbacked Utah to victories in 12 of the past 13 games he has started.

MACK AND FRIENDS: Utah running back Darrell Mack is looking forward to facing Weber State.

"I grew up with a lot of those guys playing on that defense. They're from San Diego," Mack said. "So I know they're great athletes."

Mack added that he's really good friends with cornerback Terrell Cloud and safety Scotty Goodloe of the Wildcats.

"I think it'll be fun to play against them," Mack said.

KEY WILL BE USED: The long-awaited debut of highly touted junior college transfer Aiona Key will take place Saturday. The wide receiver, who joined the Utes just a few weeks ago after an extensive wait for a grade to be posted, is scheduled to play against Weber State.

"He'll definitely be in on special teams this week and we hope to get him in a couple series, at least, on offense," Whittingham said.

Key, he added, has yet to learn the entire offense but knows enough of some sets to play 10 to 12 snaps. Key is also ticketed to see action on punts and kickoffs, but not as a return specialist.

AREAS OF EMPHASIS: Whittingham said the Utes are still working on some inconsistencies, namely sacks and turnovers.

"There's a lot of good things we are doing," he said. "But it's overshadowed by the sacks and the turnovers, which is something we've got to get corrected."

Through four games, the Utes have given up 12 sacks and turned the ball over 10 times (six fumbles, four interceptions).

MAC'S RETURN: Weber State coach Ron McBride, who coached the Utes from 1990-2002, will be honored in a pregame video presentation.

The hype, however, is something the current Utah players are putting on the backburner.

"It's a nice tribute, but we've got to focus on the football game," Johnson said. "None of the guys were here when he was here. We've just got to go out there and play hard."


Dirk Facer is the Utah football insider for the Bill Riley Show on KALL, 700AM. He can be heard every Thursday. E-mail: [email protected]