U Football Happy to Finally Get Shutout

When the Utah football team took on South Florida back on Oct. 6, the Ute defense kept the Bulls off the scoreboard for the game’s first 42 minutes and 11 seconds, before USF quarterback Marquel Blackwell hit receiver Brian Fisher with a 7-yard scoring strike.

With that touchdown, the U’s quest for its first shutout of the year was ruined, and the Bulls went on to add another pair of scores against the U scrubs.

Well, now that Utah whomped Wyoming this past Saturday by a 35-0 margin and earned that long-sought-after shutout, several Utes credited USF with an assist.

After all, not only did the Bulls provide motivation by coming tantalizingly close to putting up a goose-egg of their own, only to yank it away, but they provided a model for the Utes to follow against the Cowboys?as both USF and Wyoming run hurry-up, no huddle offenses predicated around a spread passing attack.

“This year, playing South Florida first really helped, because they run a similar offense to what Wyoming does,” said Utah coach Ron McBride.

And though the Utes assuredly would have been satisfied with the win even had Wyoming got a score?”You can live with anything where you get more points than the other team,” McBride said?don’t think for a second that the team’s defenders weren’t hoping for a shutout, especially after Utah destroyed Wyoming 34-0 in Laramie during the 2000 season.

“The defense stepped it up throughout the whole week [of practice]. So, to shut-out our first team of the season, it’s just exciting for the defense,” said sophomore open end Jason Kaufusi.

Their offensive colleagues noticed their demeanor in wanting to keep the Cowboys at zero.

“Our defense stepped up to the challenge. They wanted a shutout, and that’s what they got,” said senior halfback Dameon Hunter. “Everyone was hungry for the shutout, so nobody held anything back.”

The defense’s efforts?especially in the last few weeks?have been readily apparent. Based largely on strong performances against the Cowboys, Bulls and New Mexico Lobos, the U defense is now first in the MWC in both scoring defense (allowing 17.7 points per game) and total defense (321.3 ypg).

Then again, the offense hasn’t exactly been slouching off either. The Utes are second in the conference (behind only BYU) in both points (30.8) and yards (436.5) per game.

Utah is the only team in the league to rank first or second in all four of those categories and, along with the Cougars, is one of just two teams in the Mountain West to be undefeated against conference opponents.

Based on the strong efforts on both sides of the ball, the Utes have outscored their past three opponents by a combined margin of 124-37 and have won four games in a row overall, to improve to 5-1, 2-0 MWC.

And as they prepare to go to Fort Collins, Colo., to take on preseason favorite Colorado State this coming Saturday, they say there’s more still yet to come.

“I don’t think we’re up to our full capabilities yet,” Hunter said. “We’re capable of a lot more than that. We’ve only started getting it going now in the second half of the season.”

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