Aug. 24, 2004
SALT LAKE CITY -
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Preseason camp ends this week, with the Ute football team starting classes on Wednesday ... The Utes will compete in one final scrimmage on Tuesday, which is closed to the public but open to the media ... The fifth-annual Ute Fan Fest, sponsored by the Deseret Morning News, will be held this Saturday, Aug. 28 from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. in Rice-Eccles Stadium. All of Utah's 19 varsity athletics teams and coaches participate in the event, which is free to the public.
GET YOUR TICKET
Tickets are still available, although they are selling fast, for the University of Utah football home opener against Texas A&M on Sept. 2. More tickets have been sold already than for any other home opener in school history and the U. is on pace to sell out Rice-Eccles Stadium by Monday, Aug. 30. As of Aug. 23, around 6,000 reserved tickets still remain for the Texas A&M game, but getting a chair seat could be tough. Only 400 chair back season tickets are still available. Single-game and season tickets can be purchased online at www.utahtickets.com, at the Ute ticket office in Rice-Eccles Stadium, or by phone at 581-UTIX.
Junior David Dirkmaat (6-7, 308) is making a dent in the depth chart at both offensive guard and tackle. Dirkmaat, who has had a great preseason camp, is a co-favorite to start at left guard along with sophomore Eric Pettett (6-4, 295). Dirkmaat is the backup at both left and right tackle ... At quarterback, backup by committee is the current scenario. If starter Alex Smith (6-2, 212, Jr.) goes out for any reason, Brian Johnson (6-2, 190, Fr.), Adam Madsen (6-0, 204, Jr.) or Fano Tagovailoa (6-0, 193, Jr.) could replace him, depending on the situation ... Tailback has emerged as Utah's deepest, most talented offensive position. Locked in a battle to start for at least the first two games are sophomore Mike Liti (5-10, 210) and junior college transfer Quinton Ganther (5-10, 210). Marty Johnson (6-0, 225, Sr.) will not be permitted to start the first two games but will play ... The defense is still trying to shore up its backups, especially at linebacker where all-conference candidates Spencer Toone (6-2, 233, Jr.) and Corey Dodds (6-3, 225, Sr.) play, but experience drops off from there. This week, walk-ons Dmitry Preobrazhensky (6-0, 190, Jr.) and Molakai Mokofisi (6-2, 200, Fr.) moved up to No. 2 at middle and stud linebacker, respectively.
The competition for Utah's new Utah Man position has resulted in a three-way tie. A new Utah tradition concocted by head coach Urban Meyer and assistant marketing director Kim Raap, one of the three Utah Men will play for the kickoff coverage teams. Meyer elected to choose three in case one player got hurt. The Utah Man is chosen from the U. student body after tryouts and participation in practices. The three Utah Men for 2004--all from Utah--are John Beck, a 5-11, 225-pound junior (Park City HS), Billy Kinsey, a 5-10, 180-pound sophomore (Morgan HS) and Dmitry Preobrazhensky, a 6-0, 190-pound junior (Olympus HS), who played for Dixie State College.
UTES RANKED BY COACHES AND A.P.
For the first time in school history, Utah is ranked in the preseason top 25 by both major polls--ESPN/USA Today Coaches and the Associated Press. The Coaches' poll awarded Utah a No. 21 ranking in its preseason poll, issued on July 30. The A.P. poll, released on Aug. 14, ranked the Utes No. 20. Both polls had Utah at No. 21 at the finish of the 2003 season. Utah's only previous preseason ranking was back in 1994, when Sports Illustrated ranked the Utes No. 20. The 1994 Utes finished the season ranked No. 8 by the coaches and No. 10 by the A.P.--the best final rankings ever for the school. This fall, SI has the Utes ranked No. 19 in its College Football Preview Issue. Other preseason polls that ranked the Utes follow: No. 11, Phil Steele; No. 14, ESPN.com; No. 16, Athlon; No. 20, Lindy's; No. 21, The Sporting News; No. 24, Dopke.com.