Injuries bye the wayside?

By By Cody Brunner

By Cody Brunner

Sweet Ta(s)te of victory

Utah safety Steve Tate used to be one of those guys able to fly under the radar unnoticed by opposing coaches, but that is not likely the case anymore.

In the past two games, the senior has recorded 24 tackles, two interceptions and two sacks to lead the Utah defense. Tate’s efforts against Colorado State last week (12 tackles, one interception and one sack) earned him the Mountain West Conference Defense Player of the Week trophy, the first of his career.

“It’s an honor because you always want to get recognized in the conference if you are playing well, but if you’re not winning, those awards don’t mean anything,” Tate said. “We’ve been fortunate enough to be winning games, so it feels good.”

The senior currently ranks fifth in the conference in tackles, averaging 8.7 per game.

Unsung heroes

If you asked the average Utah football fan who Caleb Schlauderaff or Kyle Gunther is, you might get a quizzical look in return. It’s not rare for an offensive line to be neglected in favor of the media darlings at running back and quarterback, but Ute fans might want to start taking notice of the job the Utes’ front five are doing.

“We joke around about it a lot, but really, you know what you’re getting into when you play this position,” Gunther said. “You’re not playing it because you want to get on TV, you’re playing it because you want to hit people.”

Against Colorado State last week, Gunther and Co. cleared the way for an impressive 322 rushing yards for the Ute backfield.

Perfect time for a rest

The bye week couldn’t have come at a better time for the Utes. Just about every position on the roster is hurting from injuries. While some of those are season-ending, others could use a hiatus from full contact, and that’s exactly what the team is getting.

“We’re loving this week,” Utah wide receiver Marquis Wilson said. “We’re having a fun time out there in practice, laughing, having a good time, you know. Everyone is getting their injuries taken care of now, so it really came at a good time.”

The Utes better enjoy the bye week. They face three tough contests against Wyoming, New Mexico and BYU in the coming weeks. Utah lost to all three teams a year ago.

The right brand of wide receiver

The Utes were said to have one of the deepest and most talented wide receiving corps in the conference coming into this season. That depth has proven extremely useful in the past few weeks as the unit has seen yet another injury, this time to leading receiver Bradon Godfrey.

Filling the void has been junior wide receiver Marquis Wilson. In the past two games, the Salt Lake native has caught 10 passes for 139 yards and a touchdown.

“I knew I had to step up when Bradon went because he was leading our team in catches,” Wilson said. “I just kind of took it upon myself and said ‘Why can’t I be the one to step up and do something?'”

Kicking it with the best

For the fourth time in the past four weeks, Utah kicker/punter “Sweet” Louie Sakoda received recognition for his superb playing. While the last three weeks saw Sakoda winning the MWC Special Teams Player of the Week award, this week the junior was lavished with national acclaim.

The Greater Augusta Sports Council announced that Sakoda was one of 10 players in the running for the Ray Guy Award, which goes to the best punter in the country. The junior ranks first in the Mountain West Conference and 11th in the nation in yards per punt (44.1) and has downed 18 of his 49 punts inside his opponents’ 20-yard line.

The field will be cut down to three players in late November, and the winner will be announced during the Home Depot/ESPN National College Football Awards Show on Dec. 6.

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Jarad Reddekopp

Paul Kruger attempts to block a pass from Colorado State quarterback Billy Faris on Saturday.