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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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Football Notebook

By Bryan Chouinard

Injury Report
Although the Utes got the win over Louisville on Saturday night, it came at a cost. Four Utah starters were forced to leave the game because of injuries, including offensive starters Matt Asiata and Zane Beadles and defensive starters Joe Dale and Lei Talamaivao.

Asiata looked like he was back to 100 percent Saturday night when the senior ran 24 yards for the first score of the night. He left the game after the touchdown run with a torn ACL, which will sideline him for the remainder of the 2009 season.

“The worst part of the game is the injuries,” said head coach Kyle Whittingham. “With Matt and the tough things he’s had happen in the past years, you hate to see it happen. It breaks your heart to see a guy (injured) like that and how hard he’s worked to prepare for this season.”

Beadles also left Saturday’s contest at halftime with what coaches called a “leg laceration” and is expected to be back after the bye week and be ready for Colorado State.

On the defensive side of the ball, Talamaivao and Dale both went down8212;Talamaivao with a cracked fibia and Dale with what coaches called “tightness” in his legs. Coming in for Dale was junior Justin Taplin-Ross, who finished the night with three tackles and led the Utes in pass breakups with two. Talamaivao and Dale will both be evaluated during the bye week. Their status for the Colorado State game and the rest of the season has yet to be determined.

MWC Outlook
The first four weeks of the college football season were bittersweet for the Mountain West Conference. During the first month of its 11th season, the MWC made headlines for major upsets and crumbling defeats. In the opening weekend of the season, the BYU Cougars upset the No. 3-ranked Oklahoma Sooners and rocketed up in the polls before falling to the Florida State Seminoles two weeks later at home. The same week that BYU suffered its first loss of the year, the Utes suffered their first loss in 17 games.

Although the Utes and Cougars fell, the MWC’s lone undefeated team has continued to hold its own in the polls. The TCU Horned Frogs are the conference’s only hope for a BCS Bowl selection in 2009.

TCU is already 2-0 versus ACC teams this season, winning on the road against Clemson and Virginia. But standing between TCU and a BCS Bowl selection are games against BYU, Utah and the Boise State Broncos. The Horned Frogs will not only need to beat Utah in Fort Worth and BYU in Provo, but they also need BSU, which is ranked 5th, to lose in order to pass the Broncos in the polls.

What TCU does have in its favor is its strong schedule, playing in the MWC against the likes of BYU, Utah and Air Force, which could help TCU down the road.

Bye Week
The bye week couldn’t have come at a better time for the Utes. Utah had managed to stay relatively healthy until last week’s win over Louisville, but with four starters going down Saturday, the extra week away from action will serve the Utes well in getting back to full strength.

“You don’t want to go into a bye week on a two-week (losing) skid,” Whittingham said. “That’s something you don’t want to have to sit on, so in that respect, (the Louisville win) was big.”

It just so happens that in 2009 all of the Utes’ nonconference games came in the first four weeks of the season, and the Utes will kick off eight straight weeks of conference play when they return from the bye week.

Utah and TCU will both start conference play in two weeks and are the only two MWC members who have not yet played in a conference game.

Although many questions were answered for the Utes in nonconference play, many more have popped up going into the bye week: Will Eddie Wide be able to match Asiata’s production? How long will the Utes be without Talamaivao? Which Terrance Cain will show up in conference play8212;the one who threw two interceptions in the closing minutes of the Oregon game or the one who has thrown for 488 yards and four touchdowns in two home starts?

Aside from the injury problems, the Utes have a lot to be happy about going into the bye as well. Utah has forced seven turnovers in its past two games (after forcing only three in the first two games), has held opponents to 17 of 59 on third downs this season and has seemed to solidify a starting kicker in Joe Phillips, who has gone 5-5 this season, including a make from 48 yards against Louisville.

[email protected]

Mike Mangum

Matt Asiata looked like he was healthy as he scored Utah?s first touchdown, but a torn ACL will keep him out for the rest of the year. The Utes had three other starters leave the game; they will be evaluated during the bye week.

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