Aug. 27, 2004
SALT LAKE CITY -
Complete Release in PDF Format
Download Free Acrobat Reader
For complete notes, please download PDF file
Utah (0-0, 0-0 MWC) opens its 2004 season against Texas A&M (0-0, 0-0 Big 12) on Thursday, Sept. 2 in an ESPN nationally-televised contest starting at 5:45 p.m. MDT. A sell-out is expected, although some seats still remain. Tickets can be purchased online at www.utahtickets.com, at the Ute ticket office in Rice-Eccles Stadium, or by phone at 581-UTIX.
Utah made the preseason top 25 ranking for the first time this year and actually moved up two spots in the new ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll, issued on Aug. 29. The Utes, who are now No. 19 in the coaches poll, are still No. 20 in the Associated Press poll, which is a preseason ranking (the A.P. has not released a new poll).
September 2 has been declared "Utah Day" by a consortium of city and county officials. To celebrate "Utah Day," a free event featuring bands, food and novelty vendors will take place adjacent to Rice-Eccles Stadium before the game. Details can be found later in this release.
Picked to finish fifth in the MWC preseason poll, the Utes under first-year head coach Urban Meyer instead racked up a 10-2 season (6-1 MWC) that included Utah's first outright conference championship since 1957. The Utes beat Southern Mississippi, 17-0, in the Liberty Bowl. Meyer was named MWC Coach of the Year and The Sporting News' National Coach of the Year. Utah finished the season ranked No. 21 in both the A.P. and ESPN/USA Today Coaches polls.
Utah Head Coach Urban Meyer proposed the idea of a "Utah Day," but it was city and county officials who picked up the ball and ran with it. Utah's ESPN-televised game against Texas A&M on Sept. 2 has been officially designated as "Utah Day" by the Salt Lake Valley Conference of Mayors, the City of Salt Lake, the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce, the Salt Lake City Marathon and the University of Utah. The function will run from 2:00-5:30 p.m., finishing in time for fans to enter the stadium for the 5:45 p.m. kickoff. It will take place on the Eccles' Tennis Center lawn, across the street from the stadium. Blood, Sweat and Tears will perform from 4:00-5:15 p.m., following a show by local band Solid Gold (2:45-3:45 p.m.). The Utah Marching Band, cheerleaders and Crimson Line will make an appearance at the free event, which will also feature food and novelty vendors.
The Utes set a school attendance record the last time they played at home before an ESPN television audience. Utah drew a standing-room only crowd of 46,768 in a win over Cal on Sept. 11, 2003. Rice-Eccles Stadium seats 45,017 ... Utah averaged 41,478 spectators to its six home games last year, easily shattering the previous school mark of 39,249 set in 1999 ... Texas A&M handed Utah one of its two losses last year. The Aggies edged Utah 28-26 in the second game of 2003 in College Station. Ute junior quarterback Alex Smith did not play in last year's game against the Aggies. Then-starter Brett Elliott broke his wrist on the last play of the game, opening the door for Smith, who proceeded to go 9-1 the rest of the way ... Utah has not allowed a point in its last two and a half games. The Utes finished the 2003 season with 3-0 and 17-0 wins over Brigham Young and Southern Miss, respectively, and before that, shut out Wyoming in the second half of a 47-17 manhandling ... Utah's all-time football record is 546-403-31. The Utes are 340-168-16 at home, 22-11 in Rice-Eccles Stadium (1998-on), 194-221-13 in road games and 12-14-2 in games played at neutral sites.
TO A GREATER DEGREE
Four current Ute football players received their bachelor degrees last May and are now pursuing additional degrees: senior free safety Morgan Scalley, senior running back Marty Johnson, junior center Jesse Boone and junior quarterback Alex Smith. Scalley, a 2003 CoSIDA first-team Academic All-American, earned a degree in mass communication and a 3.953 cumulative GPA. He is currently pursuing an MBA, as is Boone, whose bachelor's degree is in business administration. Johnson received his bachelor's degree in sociology and now plans to pursue a second undergraduate degree in economics. Smith, who turned 20 in May, completed his bachelor's degree in economics in just two years and is now taking graduate level courses in economics.
The Utah Man, an idea hatched by head coach Urban Meyer and assistant marketing director Kim Raap last spring, will make its debut in the Utah-Texas A&M game. Ironically, the Utah Man is based on Texas A&M's famous 12th Man tradition. Meyer wanted the Utah Man to represent the student body. He eventually chose three Utah Men, all walk-ons from the state of Utah, in case one could not play for any reason. He plans for the Utah Man to be a part of the kickoff coverage team in every game. Two of the Utah Men walked on to the program: running back Billy Kinsey, a 5-10, 180-pound sophomore (Morgan HS), and linebacker Dmitry Preobrazhensky (pronounced preo-bruh-zhenski), a 6-0, 190-pound junior who played for Dixie State College. The other--5-11, 225-pound junior linebacker John Beck (Park City HS)--participated in a Utah Man tryout in the spring and impressed the coaches enough to ask him to join the team part way through preseason camp.
Urban Meyer is 10-2 in one season at Utah and 27-8 in three years as a head coach. He is 0-1 against Texas A&M . After concluding the best season in Utah history in 2003, Meyer was named the MWC Coach of the Year and The Sporting News' National Coach of the Year. In July, he received the prestigious Victor Award as the 2003 College Coach of the Year. He is 7-1 against BCS teams with his only loss a 28-26 setback to Texas A&M last fall. Utah finished the season ranked No. 21 in both the A.P. and ESPN/USA Today Coaches polls. Widely considered one of the up-and-comers in the college coaching ranks, Meyer, 40, was hired by Utah on Dec. 12, 2002 after leading Bowling Green to a two-year record of 17-6 from 2001-02. Under Meyer, BGSU cracked the AP Top 20 after starting the 2002 season with eight straight wins. Named the Mid-American Conference Coach of the Year as a first-year head coach in 2001, Meyer went 8-3 and 9-3 in his two years at BG. His previous coaching stops included assistantships at Ohio State (graduate assistant), Illinois State, Colorado State and Notre Dame.
BY THE NUMBERS
Utah led the nation in kickoff returns in 2003, averaging 28.2 yards per return ... Utah currently has 113 players on its roster after adding eight walk-ons once school started ... The Utes return eight offensive starters, seven defensive starters, the starting kicker, punter and long snapper from 2003.
Five one-time walk-ons have been awarded scholarships since last spring. Senior Jon Clark, a transfer from Houston who redshirted last year at Utah, has won the starting job at tight end. Junior wideout John Madsen has had a great preseason and is the backup at X receiver. Junior tight end Blake Burdette is a key player for the special teams who could also see playing time on offense. Junior Kite Afeaki, a transfer from Weber State, was one of the best surprises in the spring and has worked his way into certain playing time on the defensive line, where he is No. 2 at tackle. Junior linebacker Grady Marshall, the backup rover, is also a critical player for the special teams.
THE MISSING PIECE
The final piece to Utah's football facilities became a reality in March when former Ute All-America skier Spence Eccles issued a $2 million lead gift and a challenge to the U. to build a permanent indoor facility. Eccles insisted that additional funding for the $6 million project be raised by Memorial Day and that the building be substantially completed by November. Okland Construction broke ground on the Spence Eccles Field House on June 14 and construction is moving rapidly on the massive 75,000-square foot structure next to the Dee Glen Smith Athletics Center. Designed by VCBO Architecture, the Spence Eccles Field House is being constructed of red masonry, topped by a translucent panel to the south and glass to the north. It will house a regulation size football field with FieldTurf--the same surface used in Rice-Eccles Stadium. The building's dimensions are 200 feet x 370 feet, with an interior height of 60 feet to allow for kicking and punting drills. The entry way will open into a mini theater with a "Legends" photographic display of former Ute greats and interactive exhibits.
THIS GAME LAST YEAR
Playing without four starters, including three honor candidates (defensive end Jason Kaufusi, offensive guard Chris Kemoeatu and wide receiver Paris Warren), Utah nonetheless rallied from a 21-0 first-half deficit only to lose at the end, 28-26, in College Station on Sept. 6. Trailing 28-20 with 1:23 remaining, quarterback Brett Elliott hit John Madsen for a 45-yard, fourth-down touchdown bomb. But Utah's Elliott was tackled two yards short of the end zone on a two-point conversion attempt with 0:08 left. The Utes out-scored the Aggies 26-7 in the second half, bolstered by the running of Brandon Warfield, who gained 141 of his 181 yards in the second half and scored three of Utah's four touchdowns. The defense allowed 14 points in the first quarter, before settling in. Linebacker Corey Dodds had a tackle for loss, forced fumble and two fumble recoveries.
Texas A&M's 2-0 series' lead includes a 28-26 victory in College Station last fall. The Aggies lead 1-0 in Salt Lake City, beating the Utes 20-7 in 1936.
UTAH VS. THE BIG 12
Utah is 27-48-3 all-time against Big 12 teams. Fifty-seven of those games involved Colorado. Utah's record against the rest of the Big 12 is 3-18. The breakdown: CU (24-30-3), Iowa State (0-4), Kansas (2-2), Missouri (1-1), Nebraska (0-4), Oklahoma (0-1), Oklahoma State (0-1), Texas (0-1), Texas A&M (0-2), Texas Tech (0-2).