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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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Football Notebook

By Bryan Chouinard

Texas beatdown

Saturday’s game against No. 4 TCU turned out to be what some on the team are calling “a wake-up call” after the Utes fell to the Horned Frogs 55-28. TCU’s 55 points were the most points scored by a Utah opponent since 1990, when the San Diego State Aztecs dropped 66 on the Utes.

“It’s exactly like the Oregon loss,” said Utah linebacker Kepa Gaison. “We hadn’t lost in a while, and the Oregon loss was kind of a wake-up call, and this was definitely a wake-up call for us. We want to finish the season strong8212;our record is 8-2, and we still have the chance to do a lot of great things and finish the season with two more wins.”
The loss to TCU snapped a 13-game winning streak against conference opponents for Utah and was the first time in Utes’ history that Utah lost when both teams were ranked in the Top 25.

The glaring deficiency in Utah’s game last weekend was the run defense. The Utah defense gave up season highs in both net rushing yards (342) and total offense as well (549). The Utes’ offense sputtered as well, gaining only 11 first downs (to TCU’s 33) as well as producing only 65 yards of total rushing. When it was all said and done, Utah was forced to punt the ball nine times Saturday. Utah also hurt itself, racking up 14 penalties that accumulated for a loss of 110 yards.

“We knew we would need to play near-flawless football to have a chance to compete,” said head coach Kyle Whittingham. “And we were far from that. When you make the mistakes that we made against the caliber of team we were playing, that’s what happens.”

Injury report

The Utah defensive line suffered a significant blow this weekend when, after giving up the most rushing yards of 2009, the unit lost starting defensive end Derrick Shelby for the remainder of the season. Shelby tore his ACL on Saturday and will be forced to miss the final two games of the 2009 regular season as well as Utah’s bowl game.

Shelby is the second member of the defensive line lost to injury this season. Defensive tackle Kenape Eliapo is also out indefinitely with an eye condition. Eliapo has been ruled out for both this weekend’s matchup against SDSU as well as next week’s showdown with BYU, but he could be ready to go by the time the Utes play in their bowl game.

Going bowling

After Saturday’s loss, the Mountain West Conference bowl picture has become much clearer, with two weeks remaining in the season. TCU seemingly has the conference wrapped up as long as it avoids a monumental collapse against New Mexico or Wyoming, which have combined for five total wins all season. Assuming TCU wins, the Horned Frogs will become the second MWC team to be invited to a BCS bowl and will give up their spot in the Las Vegas Bowl. If this is the case, the BYU game Nov. 28 will likely be a play-in game to the Vegas Bowl between the Utes and Cougars, with the loser most likely being invited to the Poinsettia Bowl.

No matter the bowl, the Utes have to like their chances in the postseason. Utah holds the longest active win streak in bowl games, with eight.

Senior send-off

This weekend’s matchup with San Diego State will not only be the last home game of 2009, but will also be the last time 24 Utah seniors come out of the tunnel at Rice-Eccles Stadium.

Headlining the group of seniors are team captains Zane Beadles, Koa Misi, Stevenson Sylvester and Matt Asiata. Asiata, who had surgery earlier this fall to repair ligaments in his knee has yet to decide whether he will apply for a medical hardship extension to return next season, but coaches are confident that if he chooses to do so, the NCAA will allow him to return to the team in 2010.

Others headlining the senior class are defensive standouts Mike Wright, Kepa Gaison and Robert Johnson, as well as wideout David Reed.

The 2009 senior class will be remembered as one of the winningest classes to ever come through the U.

“We want to send the seniors off the right way,” Whittingham said. “They have won a lot of football games for the Utes. They have been so dedicated and worked so hard for this program, and we want to send them off the right way.”

[email protected]

Mike Mangum

Team captains Koa Misi, Stevenson Sylvester and Zane Beadles will play their last home game Saturday against San Diego State. The Utes have 21 other seniors on the roster for Saturday.

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