With TCU loss behind them, Utes hoping to bounce back

By By Liz Frome , Staff writer

By Liz Frome , Staff writer

In their last home game of the season on Saturday, the 8-2 Utes will look to claim a win over San Diego State.

After last week’s painful 28-55 defeat to TCU in Fort Worth, senior free safety Robert Johnson said the team is ready to move on and put the loss behind them.

“It (wasn’t) supposed to go that way, but sometimes it happens where we just gotta move on,” Johnson said. “(The Aztecs are) a lot better than they were last year. Every year it’s a new team, so right now, we just gotta make sure we come out and don’t bring what happened last week to (this game).”

The Aztecs are likely doing the same thing, also suffering a difficult loss last week at the hands of Wyoming. San Diego had a 21-point lead heading into the fourth quarter against the Cowboys, but ended up losing the game 30-27 after allowing three touchdowns and a field goal.

Senior linebacker Stevenson Sylvester said that with a hungry Aztec team on its way to Salt Lake City, the Utes will have to regain their confidence and play a full game to win their last game at home this season and the seniors’ last game ever in Rice-Eccles Stadium.

“We know that San Diego State wants to win against a good team, and I feel like we’re a good team,” Sylvester said. “We gotta come out there and play them that way. After a win, you gotta put a win in the books. After a loss, you gotta put a loss in the books. (We just have to) move on to the next game. San Diego State’s all (that’s) on our mind.”

Head coach Kyle Whittingham said he’s confident the team will be able to bounce back from its only conference loss of the season thus far and put together another good performance.

“This is a mature football team,” Whittingham said. “When we have a loss, you evaluate it, learn from it and put it behind you. We did a very good job of that after the Oregon game.”

The Ducks snapped the Utes’ 16-game winning streak in September, handing Utah its first loss since December 2007. The Utes showed their resiliency and fought their way to six consecutive wins following their defeat in Eugene, including one in overtime at home against Air Force.

Whittingham said the Utes’ offense has a tough test ahead of them to get back on the right track.

“With Rocky Long as (San Diego State’s) defensive coordinator, he has brought that 3-3-5 defense with him,” he said. “It’s a challenging week for our offense.”

Last week, although the Utes were unable to pull off the upset, freshman quarterback Jordan Wynn managed to complete 16 of 32 for 219 yards and one touchdown in the midst of TCU’s aggressive defense. Whittingham said the performance will better prepare the young leader for the end of Utah’s schedule.

“The game was a big positive for Jordan,” he said. “He handled himself very well. He hung in there and showed a great deal of toughness and resiliency and was very poised. He did a solid job given the circumstances and learned a great deal. He will be a better quarterback because of this.”

The Utes will host the Aztecs in their final home game of the 2009 season Saturday at 2 p.m.

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Mike Mangum/The Daily Utah Chronicle

Stevenson Sylvester tries to strip the ball during the game at TCU. Sylvester and the defense will look to put together a full game and beat San Diego State in the seniors? final home game.