Russell Had Career Day Vs Wyoming

There is something about the Wyoming Cowboys that brings out the best in Ute wide receiver Cliff Russell.

In 1999, Russell torched the Cowboys, as he caught 6 balls for 155 yards, which stood as his career high until Saturday?when he made big plays all game long and created a new career high by catching 7 balls for 157 yards.

The Wyoming defense appeared to have the Utes’ offense in hand until the first Ute possession of the second quarter, when Russell caught a 44-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Lance Rice, to give Utah a 7-0 lead.

The Cowboys’ strategy had been based on completely suffocating the run. ?They did not give us anything up front. They were not going to let us run all day,? said U coach Ron McBride.

Placing eight and nine men in the box left the Cowboys vulnerable to the pass, and Russell took full advantage of the single coverage given to him.

?You single-cover him, and you have a big problem because of his speed,? McBride said.

With a 4.27 40-yard dash time and a 42-inch vertical, Rice said he needed to give Russell the ball.

?Every time Cliff is single covered, I try to get the ball to him,? Rice said.

That?s exactly what Rice did when he lofted the ball for Russell, let him run right past the defender and catch the ball for the 44-yard touchdown that started the scoring onslaught for the Utes.

The big plays didn?t stop there for Russell. On the very next possession, the Utes were stuck in a third-and-1 situation. Play-action was the last thing Wyoming players had on their mind, and they stuffed the box to destroy the run.

Russell was covered by the corner and the safety as Rice threw the ball. Russell ran by them easily, adjusted to Rice’s underthrown ball and brought in a great 43-yard catch at the 3-yard line, setting up a 1-yard TD dive by Adam Tate two plays later.

?That was one hell of a call on third down, and it paid off,? McBride said.

?All I want [Rice] to do is just throw the ball out there and let me make the play,? Russell said.

Russell was the key to the entire offense opening up, and therefore was the gateway to the 35-0 victory for the Utes.

With Russell forcing Wyoming’s frontal assault to lay off, U runners Tate and Dameon Hunter were able to pound the ball for 164 yards rushing.

?Any time you can stretch the defense out vertically, it will always open up the run,? Rice said.

Russell is the best receiver and athlete on the team, and Rice knows how important it is to get him the ball in order for the Utes to win.

?Cliff is a great receiver, and we need to utilize his speed and athletic ability, to let him make plays.?

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