July 8, 2005
SALT LAKE CITY -
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UTES AT THE MWC MEDIA PREVIEW
Representing Utah at the Mountain West Conference Football Preview in San Diego, July 18-19, will be Head Coach Kyle Whittingham
, senior center Jesse Boone
and senior linebacker Spencer Toone
. Whittingham is preparing for his first year as the head coach at Utah after spending the last 11 years as an assistant coach (the final 10 as Utah's defensive coordinator). Both players have received numerous preseason citations. Boone was second-team all-MWC last year and is on the Rimington Trophy and Outland Trophy watch lists. Toone was an honorable mention all-MWC pick a year ago and he has been tabbed as MWC defensive player of the year by The Sporting News and the league's best linebacker by Street & Smith.
was named the head football coach at Utah on Dec. 8, 2004. Whittingham has been a member of the Ute staff since 1994, when he coached the defensive line for Utah's 10-2 Freedom Bowl champion team. He was promoted to defensive coordinator a year later--a position he held until his promotion to head coach seven months ago. In his 11 years as a Ute assistant, the program compiled an 86-41 record and played in six bowl games (winning five). He served as co-head coach at the 2005 Fiesta Bowl, helping to lead Utah to a 35-7 victory over Pittsburgh. The Ute defense recorded 14 top-20 statistical rankings during Whittingham's 10 years as the coordinator. Utah led the league in scoring defense in four of the last six years (placing second the other two).
CAMP DATES MOVED UP
Recent NCAA legislation has allowed Utah to open camp three days earlier than originally planned. Players will now report for camp on Thursday, Aug. 4 and begin non-contact practice a day later on Friday, Aug. 5. On Aug. 5-6-8 (the players get Sunday off), practices will be divided into two sessions: On Aug. 5, the newcomers will practice in the morning (10:10-11:40 a.m.) and the returners in the afternoon (4:05-5:55 p.m.). On Aug. 6 and 8, the "ones and threes" will practice in the morning (9:40-11:30 a.m.) and the "twos and fours" in the afternoon (3:40-5:30 a.m.). The two groups will join together for practice starting on Tuesday, Aug. 9. The first day in full pads will be Aug. 10. Double day practices will be held every other day beginning on Thursday, Aug. 11 (9:10-10:40 a.m. and 3:50-5:30 p.m.). Camp concludes on Aug. 23 and classes begin on Aug. 24.
The Utah football team will hold its preseason practices at Ute Baseball Field. This marks the third August that the football team has moved its August camp base in order to preserve the grass on the McCarthey Practice Fields for the season.
For the second straight year, Utah will open its season on Sept. 2, at home, vs. a BCS school in an ESPN nationally televised game. Utah and Arizona will kick-off their respective 2005 campaigns on Friday, Sept. 2 starting at 6 p.m. (MDT) in Rice-Eccles Stadium.
The best season in school history last fall has helped Utah secure at least three nationally televised games in 2005. Three of Utah's first four games will be televised by ESPN: Friday, Sept. 2 vs. Arizona, Thu., Sept. 15 at TCU and Thu., Sept. 22 vs. Air Force. In the last two years, Utah is 9-0 in ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC nationally televised games.
Five national football publications have picked Utah to win its third-straight MWC championship and two others have the Utes placing second. Phil Steele, Athlon, The Sporting News, Street & Smith and Fox Sports all tabbed Utah for another crown, while Lindy's and Sportsline picked Utah second. The Sporting News and Street & Smith also ranked the Utes No. 25 in their preseason top-25.
and Jesse Boone
are both members of the the Outland Trophy watch list. The Outland Trophy is awarded to the nation's best interior offensive or defensive lineman. Fifita is also on the watch list for the Bronko Nagurski award, which is presented to the nation's top defensive player, and Boone is on the watch list for the Rimington Trophy--awarded annually to the nation's best center.
Of Utah's six 2004 first-team all-MWC picks, only senior defensive tackle Steve Fifita
returns. Named to the 2004 all-MWC second team were senior center Jesse Boone
and junior defensive back Eric Weddle
. Senior linebacker Spencer Toone
and senior running back Quinton Ganther
won honorable mention acclaim.
, a two-year starting defensive end and an all-conference candidate as a senior this season, tore the quad tendon in his right leg during off-season weight training. He underwent surgery on July 8 to repair the tendon and will miss the entire 2005 season ... Freddie Brown, a wide receiver out of Damien High School in La Verne, Calif., has been added to Utah's scholarship rolls. Brown redshirted last year at Citrus College and has four years of eligibility remaining ... Tolifili Liufau
, a member of Utah's 2005 recruiting class who was projected to vie for playing time at tackle, must first complete some academic requirements at Fresno CC. He is now anticipating joining the team in January ... Steve Dahl
, Tony Castaldi
and Nik Sonntag
can no longer play football at Utah due to medical issues ... Special teams extraordinaire and former "Utah Man" Billy Kinsey
will miss the 2005 season after an offseason knee injury that required surgery in May ... Senior tight end Blake Burdette
spent the summer touring with the U.S. National Rugby Team and played in tournaments in Japan and Canada.
Utah's practices throughout August and the season will be closed to the public (open to the media) ... The Ute coaches expect to welcome 40 lettermen and 11 full or part-time starters back from last year's 12-0, MWC and Fiesta Bowl championship team ... Five starters return on both offense and defense. Back for the offense are: David Dirkmaat
, OL; Jesse Boone
, OL; Travis LaTendresse
, WR; John Madsen
, WR; Tavo Tupola
, OL. Returning on defense are: Steve Fifita
, DT; Marquess Ledbetter
, DE; Ryan Smith
, DB; Spencer Toone
, LB; Eric Weddle
, DB. Bryan Borreson
is Utah's only kicker/punter with starting experience returning ... 23 new scholarship athletes will join the team and 19 redshirts from 2004 will get their first opportunity at game time.
Nearly everything the 2004 Utah football team accomplished has already been accorded historical status. Utah's 12-0 record set a school record; the Utes became the first team from a non-BCS conference ever to be invited to a BCS bowl (and the first to win one); quarterback Alex Smith
was Utah's first Heisman Trophy finalist and its first No. 1 NFL draft pick; Utah's No. 4 final A.P. ranking (No. 5 coaches) was the best in school history; the Utes were ranked the entire season in both polls--also a first at the school; and Utah had never before had the conference offensive (Smith) and defensive (Morgan Scalley
) player of the year in a single season, much less the coach of the year (Urban Meyer
). Other highlights included Utah winning its second straight outright MWC championship by going 7-0 in league play. Six Utes were picked to the all-MWC first team: Alex Smith
, Chris Kemoeatu
, Sione Pouha
, Steve Savoy
, Morgan Scalley
and Steve Fifita
. Smith and Kemoeatu were both first team All-Americans and Smith was the national player of the year by both The Sporting News and Sports Illustrated. Meyer won four national coach of the year citations.