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The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Players facing scrutiny in 1st road starts

By Bryan Chouinard

After kicking off their season with a 15th straight win, the Utes will look to extend the nation’s longest win streak to 16 on Saturday when they take on the San Jose State Spartans.

The Utes have been unbeatable on the road as of late, winning their past eight games away from Rice-Eccles Stadium. Coaches and players alike don’t know the exact reason for Utah’s success on the road, but understand that traveling is never a concern.

“We have the same routine each and every week,” said head coach Kyle Whittingham. “I can’t attribute our success to any one particular thing; I just think it’s the way our guys prepare in general.”

“A field is a field for me,” said wide receiver David Reed. “And I think it’s that way for a lot of guys on this team.”

For the Utes, Saturday will not only be the first road game of the season, but also the first road start for many of their key players. Quarterback Terrance Cain, cornerbacks Brandon Burton and R.J. Stanford, right guard Walter Watts and wide receivers David Reed and Aiona Key will all be making the first road starts of their careers. Starting in a hostile road environment is never easy, especially for Cain, who is making only his second career start.
“I don’t pay attention to the crowd much,” Cain said. “It’s just another game. (Last week’s experience) just keeps me relaxed and keeps me composed.”

Cain, who performed well in his first career start, will be under the microscope Saturday night to see if he can be as effective on the road as he was at home.

“What we need to do is get (Cain) playing the way he played Thursday night,” Whittingham said. “As far as his pocket poise, his presence, his decision making and to get him more involved in the run game. He’s got a lot of very good qualities to his game. We’ve got to figure out what he’s best at, and that’s what we’ll gravitate towards.”

Against Utah State, the Utes bombarded the Aggies with a combination of slant routs to Reed and hand-offs to senior Matt Asiata, who finished the game with career highs in touches and yards.

Look for the playbook to be opened up a little more this week in San Jose. Each week the Utes will expose more of their playbook to their young quarterback in an effort not to overwhelm him early in the season. Cain showed how capable he was of running the offense against the Aggies, hurting USU mainly through the air. In the future, we could see Cain not only as a threat through the air, but on the ground also.

“(Cain) is a guy who is a very capable runner,” Whittingham said. “That will be more part of our game plan as the season goes on.”

“I like to get outside the pocket and run the ball,” Cain said. “But I also like to distribute the ball to my receivers and let them make plays, too.”

It’s understandable that Cain likes to air it out to his receivers when he has receivers like Reed. The senior had a career day last Thursday and set personal bests in receptions and yards.

“Any way you get me the ball, I love it,” Reed said.
Reed has had to wait longer then normal to get the ball this week, because of Utah’s season opener having been on a Thursday. The Utes will have had nine days off by the time they suit up on Saturday, something Reed sees as an advantage.

“I can’t wait to play week in and week out,” Reed said. “We’re fresher for sure, those two extra days helped a lot, we had time to heal any injuries and bruises so we’re going to be good.”

Possibly the biggest injury Utah had to overcome was the back injury that kept defensive end Koa Misi out of the season opener. But Misi practiced this week, and coaches are confident that he will be ready to go come Saturday.

“Right now we’re counting on (Misi) playing,” Whittingham said. “Unless something unforeseen happens.”

Although the Spartans are coming off a tough 56-3 loss to the third- ranked USC Trojans, Utah players and coaches are not taking SJSU and head coach Dick Tomey lightly.

“(San Jose State) is a good team,” Reed said. “They’re athletic and we’re going to have to come ready for this weekend. We’re going to have to play better then last week, that’s for sure.”

“(Dick Tomey) is one of the best in the business,” Whittingham said. “You can look at his track record; he’s won a lot of football games. I had the benefit of learning a great deal of coach Tomey’s philosophies and how he works through Coach McBride. I have a lot of respect for (Tomey), his teams are always well prepared.”

All the action gets under way Saturday night at Spartan Stadium at 8:30 p.m.

Lennie Mahler

Terrance Cain led the Utes to a win in their home opener over Utah State and is looking to continue his early success Saturday at San Jose State.

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