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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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Utes up for Oregon?s challenge

By Bryan Chouinard

The Utes have the chance to come within one game of matching the school’s longest winning streak (18) this weekend when they travel to the great Northwest to take on Oregon.

If the Utes want to extend their win streak to 17 games, they will have to do so inside one of the most hostile environments in all of college football8212;Autzen Stadium.

“I’ve only heard rumors (about the atmosphere in Autzen stadium),” said defensive end Derrick Shelby. “And I’ve only seen it on video games, but I heard it’s a tough place to play. We have to just treat it like a field.”

But it’s easier said than done to treat the 54,000-seat Autzen stadium like any other field, when the noise level is as high as it is when the home of the Ducks gets rocking. ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit lists Oregon’s student section as the third loudest in the nation, behind Penn State and Florida.

“We have our work cut out for us,” said head coach Kyle Whittingham. “They are a talented Pac-10 team and their stadium presents a hostile environment. They have great home field advantage.”

The Ducks will be led by head coach Chip Kelly, who, after spending two years as the team’s offensive coordinator, took over this season after former head coach Mike Bellotti was introduced as the school’s athletic director last year. In Kelly’s three years with the team, the Ducks have only lost three games at home and Oregon has sold out 62 straight home games, dating back to 1999.

“I heard it’s crazy (in Autzen Stadium),” said Utah cornerback Brandon Burton. “I like games like that, it gets you ready for the game. If you’re not excited for a game or a crowd like that, you shouldn’t be playing football.”

Burton and fellow cornerback R.J. Stanford have been the topic of much speculation this week after giving up 269 passing yards and receiving four pass interference calls for a total of 30 yards a week ago against San Jose State.

“(Oregon) will definitely be targeting (Stanford and me),” Burton said. “I have no idea why they wouldn’t. Last week was very humbling. I know they are going to take a look at the tape and say, “We can go after these guys,’ and me and R.J. are excited about it. It will be a big challenge, but we look forward to games like this.”

Although the Utah secondary struggled last weekend, it is worth noting that Oregon quarterback Jeremiah Masoli has yet to throw a touchdown this season.

As Stanford and Burton are still adjusting to their starting roles, the young duo will have the help of strong safety Joe Dale and free safety Robert Johnson. Dale is among the leaders on the Ute defense with 14 tackles this season8212;something Burton holds in high regard.

“You feel a little more comfortable jumping a slant rout knowing (Dale and Johnson) are back there protecting you,” Burton said. “It helps a lot having two vets back there helping you out.”

On the offensive side of the ball, the Utes might be without starting running back Matt Asiata, who is listed as questionable after injuring his shoulder in the fourth quarter of last week’s game. In the event that Asiata can’t, junior Eddie Wide will step into the starting role and will be expected to fulfill all of Asiata’s duties, including getting behind center in the Utes’ “Asiata” formation.

“We’ll still use that (Asiata) package whether Matt (Asiata) is there or not,” Whittingham said.

Utah quarterback Terrance Cain has driven the Utah offense to this point in the season, accounting for 640 yards of total offense over the first two games of the season8212;something Whittingham expects will continue this week.

“We saw growth in Terrance (Cain) between game one and two in a lot of different areas,” Whittingham said. “We gave him more opportunities to the run the ball, which he capitalized on. If he continues to make those jumps from week to week, he’s going to be a very good quarterback.”

Despite being unbeaten and higher in the rankings than Oregon, because of the home-field advantage the Utes are going into Saturday’s game as five-point underdogs8212;something that hasn’t sat well with the players.

“(The game) is on national TV,” said wideout Jereme Brooks. “So we know that if we put together a solid game then we’ll start getting some of the respect we deserve.”

“We don’t ever go into games and look at ourselves as underdogs,” Burton said. “We know we can play with anybody, we go into every game thinking we should beat this team and that’s how we’re going into this week.”
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Tyler Cobb

Kevin Jurovich and Brandon Burton battle for position last week in San Jose. Burton is expecting Oregon to challenge the secondary after they gave up 269 yards last week.

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