A call to arms

By By Urban Meyer

By Urban Meyer

The final regular-season game, against the Team Down South, is this Saturday and I must confess the season has raced by much faster than I anticipated.

The support of this team by everyone has been outstanding and has contributed greatly to the success of the 10-0, fifth-ranked University of Utah football team.

When I last wrote to you, we were 6-0 with UNLV coming to Rice-Eccles stadium. We played the game in a rainstorm, but it did not interfere with our performance. Morgan Scalley took a handoff from Bo Nagahi on the opening kickoff and never stopped until he reached the end zone for a return that totaled 106 yards.

Up 7-0 just 13 seconds into the game, Grady Marshall blocked a punt on the Rebels’ first drive and we converted the recovery to a 14-0 lead. We went on to beat the Rebels by the final score of 63-28. We also had the opportunity to play many of our younger players, giving them valuable game experience.

Next was a road game against the San Diego State Aztecs. Again, the senior leadership was very evident as the team displayed a businesslike attitude in San Diego. The focus was very good, and against a talented opponent, younger players like Eric Pettit and Kite Afeaki joined senior Tevita Kemoeatu in replacing veterans Makai Aalona and Sione Pouha who were both nursing knee injuries.

True freshman kicker David Carroll also had his first start in this game, replacing the injured Brian Borreson, and kicked three field goals and six PATs. Alex Smith returned to his hometown and threw five touchdown passes, spread among Paris Warren, Travis LaTendresse and Steve Savoy to lead us to the victory by a score of 51-28.

Returning to Rice-Eccles stadium, we faced the Colorado State Rams. After taking a 7-0 lead early in the game, our defense stepped up when Tommy Hackenbruck caused a fumble that was picked up by Morgan Scalley. Scalley returned it 88 yards for a touchdown that sucked the energy out of the Rams. Morgan also had two interceptions, and along with an interception by Eric Weddle, all were converted to scores by the offense.

Marty Johnson scored three touchdowns behind a line that included Tavo Tupola, David Dirkmaat, Jessie Boone, Chris Kemoeatu and was bolstered by the return of Makai Aalona. Also, Quinton Ganther had a big game running and averaged 11.6 yards per carry on seven carries.

Again, we had the opportunity to play many younger players, however on this occasion their play was not to the level set by the senior leadership and that we expected as coaches. The final score was 63-31.

Next, the Wyoming Cowboys awaited us last Saturday evening in Laramie. Our spirits were raised by the return of Sione Pouha, who rejoined Steve Fifita, Jonathan Fanene and Marquess Ledbetter on the defensive line. Despite a nearly two-hour delay due to a power failure, we again had a fast start aided by a fumble recovery by Corey Dodds and interceptions by Marquess Ledbetter and Morgan Scalley, his sixth of the season, led to a half-time Utah lead of 31-7.

Spencer Toone and Tommy Hackenbruck were solid in stopping the Cowboy’s running attack, and Ryan Smith, Gerald Fletcher and Eric Weddle slowed the Wyoming passing attack. Heisman trophy candidate Alex Smith passed for three more touchdowns, one each to Steve Savoy, Paris Warren and John Madsen and also scored on a 27- yard run. The final score was 45-28.

As I stated above, the final regular-season game is upon us. However, we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to showcase the premier college football facility in America, and the U this Saturday at 8 a.m. when ESPN’s “College Football GameDay” show is televised from Rice-Eccles Stadium.

I am calling you to arms and my challenge to the entire student body, the MUSS and the community is to have 20,000 fans, decked out in red, waving crazy signs and chanting, “GO UTES,” behind the ESPN podium. Collectively, we have earned the right to have the best college football show at our house. You did it by filling Rice-Eccles Stadium for the nationally televised game against Texas A&M, and the football team earned it by playing great football the entire season en route to being ranked fifth in the nation and one of only five undefeated Division I-A teams.

We have a Heisman trophy candidate in Alex Smith, an Academic All-American in Morgan Scalley, a pre- season Lombardi trophy candidate in Chris Kemoeatu, and a team full of Mountain West all-conference players. Let’s finish the regular season by showcasing a great university, a great stadium, a great student body, the MUSS and a great football team in one of college football’s greatest rivalry games this Saturday. I call you to arms! GO UTES!