Football Notebook

By By Bryan Chouinard

By Bryan Chouinard

Injury update

The Utes barely escaped Spartan Stadium with a win Saturday night. They left relatively healthy, but the few injuries suffered could prove costly.

Junior left guard Caleb Schlauderaff left the game early in the first half Saturday night when he went down with a knee injury. Schlauderaff was questionable heading into the first game of the season versus Utah State and ended up being able to play against the Aggies. Schlauderaff is once again listed as questionable going into the Oregon game.

Ute fans might have noticed that when Utah pulled away from San Jose State during the fourth quarter, senior Matt Asiata was nowhere to be seen. Backup running backs junior Eddie Wide and redshirt freshman Sausan Shakerin stepped up in Asiata’s absence, helping lead the Utes to a late victory. Asiata was sidelined in the second half with what coaches are calling a shoulder injury. Asiata, like Schlauderaff, is listed as questionable.

“For a proven guy like (Asiata), if he’s ready he’s a game-time decision,” said head coach Kyle Whittingham. “We’ll know a lot more as the week progresses, but it will be touch and go, and the same for Caleb. The same situation we were in with Caleb against Utah State, we’re in this week.”

The Utes also lost defensive tackle Lei Talamaivao last week. Talamaivao broke his foot Thursday during a practice session and will be forced to sit out the rest of the 2009 season. Talamaivao, who’s a sophomore, will redshirt in 2009.

Asiata and co.

Asiata carried the load of the Utah running game this season before coming out of Saturday night’s game with a shoulder injury. He was averaging 125 yards per game and getting more touches than any other back in the country.

But when Asiata left the game Saturday night, Wide and Shakerin, along with quarterback Terrance Cain, all contributed to the running game. Wide averaged 5.5 yards per carry on eight carries for 44 yards, including a 15-yard touchdown run. Shakerin, who has seen action in special teams this season, was given his first career rushing attempt in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s game and took full advantage of the opportunity. Shakerin burst out of the back field and exploded for 46 yards inside the SJSU 5-yard line on his only carry of the night. Ute fans also saw more of what Cain is capable of on the ground, rushing for 76 yards on 10 carries, finishing only behind Asiata in total rushing yards. As a team, Utah finished the night rushing for 251 yards, exceeding its passing total of 248.

Missing King Louie

Whittingham described special teams as the strongest phase of Utah’s game in week one against Utah State, but that couldn’t be further from the truth against San Jose State. Senior Ben Vroman had a nightmare of a game against the Spartans, going 0-3 on the night, missing from 50, 53 and 36 yards before being pulled and replaced by junior Joe Phillips.

“We did not punt or place kick nearly as well as we need to,” Whittingham said. “We did a very good job week one so it was disappointing to see that in week two.”

Phillips made his first career field goal attempt from 25 yards out in the closing moments of Saturday’s game. The Utes will hold an open competition this week during practice before naming a starter for this weekend’s game against Oregon. Whittingham also suggested the Utes might go to a two-kicker system in the future.

“Ben (Vroman) was just in a funk Saturday night,” Whittingham said. “He’s a good kicker. He’s talented, but the bottom line is that when the pressure’s on, you have to perform, so we got to go with who we think will get the job done.”

Turnovers and take-aways

For the second straight week, the Utes were able to walk away with a win even after losing the turnover battle. Turnovers have plagued the Utes early on this season. As a team, Utah has already fumbled the ball five times in 2009 and only recovered one. Adding Cain’s lone interception gives the Utes five turnovers in the first two weeks.

On the other side of the ball, the Utes’ defense has managed two interceptions in 2009 and forced three fumbles but failed to recover a single one. Although Utah is averaging a take-away per game, it is turning the ball over 2.5 times a game. Asiata has lost two fumbles on the season to go along with one from wideout David Reed and one from wideout John Peel.
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Tyler Cobb

Matt Asiata runs for Utah?s first touchdown against San Jose State on Saturday. Asiata left the game in the second half with a shoulder injury.