Superdome practice exciting, personal for Utah

By Chris Kamrani, Asst. Sports Editor

NEW ORLEANS8212;Two days away from the biggest game in Utah history, the 12-0 Utes were the main attraction at the Louisiana Superdome.

For practice, that is.

The team tested their legs and new cleats for the first time at the stadium where the 75th annual Sugar Bowl is being held in downtown New Orleans. The stadium holds 72,968 seats for football and Utah, garbed in brand new UnderArmour gear, hit the turf for the last official full practice of the season.

“We just had to get used to the lighting,” quarterback Brian Johnson said. “I’ve never played in a dome, but this is a nice environment. A huge challenge.”

The Utes received brand new practice uniforms and specialized UnderArmour cleats for the BCS bowl game. The cleats feature the Utah logo on the instep of each shoe.

Free safety Robert Johnson was the No. 1 model of the afternoon as he kindly removed his right cleat and posed for several minutes, praising the shoe and the sponsor for giving the undefeated squad a nice holiday surprise.

“UnderArmor is representing us.” Johnson said. “Our game cleats look real nice. Man, UnderArmor is hooking us up. We like UnderArmor.”

Johnson went on to talk about the Superdome and the potentially raw environment that comes with playing 1,788 miles away from home.

“We’ve played a lot of tough road games,” the junior from Watts, Calif., said. “(Alabama) has played in domes, but that doesn’t matter.”

Middle linebacker Mike Wright went a different route when explaining the awe of practicing at the home of the NFL’s New Orleans Saints.

“We’re just all anxious to get out there,” he said. “We’re just ready to go play.”

The team was given special Crimson practice jerseys and numbers in an attempt to get any edge possible. Each scout team member was given the same number for the player they are helping prepare the team for. Scout team quarterback TJ Canales, who has received praise from the coaching staff all year long has been donning the No. 14, the number of Alabama quarterback John Parker Wilson.

New Orleans does not make senior wide receiver Brent Casteel feel like a duck out of a pond. The Big Easy is home to a significant chunk of Casteel’s family and despite the fact Utah fans being fans in a different shade of Crimson, Utah’s No. 5 is counting down the days before the game.

“I’m sure (Alabama’s) got a huge fan base coming down, but we’re looking forward to our fans coming down,” Casteel said. “That’s what I’m excited for.”

Southern California native Sean Smith has become an overnight fan of the city and has praised the southern hospitality and the overall character of the city.

“It’s hard to visualize what it was like here after (Hurricane) Katrina,” Smith said. The All-MWC cornerback mentioned the still affected areas by Tulane University, where the team had been practicing up till Wednesday, were still in rough shape.

But as he always does, Utah’s most vocal player exuded excitement when speaking of actually playing in the Superdome, where Super Bowl’s and national championships have been won.
“God, come Friday, we’re going to be play we’re going to be playing on the same field as (former Ute) Steve Smith and (Saints quarterback) Drew Brees,” Smith said.

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Ty Cobb

Ty Cobb

Ty Cobb

Ty Cobb