Sept. 8, 2003
SALT LAKE CITY -
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Utah (1-1, 0-0 MWC) will host California (1-2, 0-0 Pac-10) in the ESPN Thursday night football game of the week on Sept. 11 ... Kick-off is 5:45 p.m. MDT in Rice-Eccles Stadium ... Tickets for the game are still available at the Ute ticket office, by phone (801-581-UTIX) and on the Internet (www.UtahUtes.com) ... Both Utah and Cal came within two points of a victory last week: The Utes lost 28-26 at Texas A&M and California lost 23-21 to Colorado State ... The Utah-Cal game will also be broadcast on KALL 700 (AM) radio and over the Internet (www.KALL700.com).
Utah's game with Cal is its first of two nationally televised games against Pacific-10 schools this season. The Utes will play Oregon in an ESPN2 televised game on Friday, Oct. 3.
Utah starting quarterback Brett Elliott
broke his left wrist on the final play of last Saturday's game against Texas A&M, when he kept the ball on a two-point conversion attempt with 0:08 left in the game. Elliott, who is right handed, is expected to miss a minimum of four weeks with the injury. He will be replaced by either sophomore Alex Smith
or senior Lance Rice
Utah's starting lineup has suffered some major hits this year. The Utes have played without two-time all-league defensive end Jason Kaufusi
(shoulder), honorable mention all-conference offensive guard Chris Kemeoatu (knee) and star running back Marty Johnson
(foot) in both games. Kemoeatu is the only one of the trio who could return for the Cal game. New to the star-studded disabled list this week is quarterback Brett Elliott
(wrist). Starting receiver Steve Savoy (ribs) is questionable. Receiver Paris Warren
was suspended and did not play against Texas A&M. He will rejoin the lineup this week.
is 1-1 at Utah and 18-7 in his third year as a head coach. Widely considered one of the up-and-comers in the college coaching ranks, Meyer, 39, was hired by Utah on Dec. 12, 2002 after leading Bowling Green to a two-year record of 17-6. At BGSU, Meyer went 5-0 against BCS teams, including two wins over ranked opponents, and his team 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. Meyer is 0-0 against California.
A gutsy comeback by a shorthanded Ute team fell just short and the Utes lost 28-26 to Texas A&M in College Station, Texas. Playing without four starters (defensive end Jason Kaufusi
, offensive guard Chris Kemoeatu
, wide receiver Paris Warren
and running back Marty Johnson
), Utah nonetheless rallied from a 21-0 first half deficit to make it a game. Trailing 28-20 with 1:23 remaining, Brett Elliott
hit John Madsen
for a 45-yard, fourth-down touchdown bomb. Utah's two-point conversion attempt with 0:08 left on the clock failed when Elliott was tackled on the 2-yard line. 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. Dave Revill
(11 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 1 pass breakup) and Corey Dodds
(1 tackle for loss, 1 forced fumble and 2 fumble recoveries) led the defense, which settled in after a 14-point first quarter.
WARFIELD WINS SECOND STRAIGHT MWC AWARD
Senior running back Brandon Warfield
, who leads the MWC in rushing and ranks fourth in the nation with a 177.0 yard per game average, has been named co-Mountain West Conference Offensive Player of the Week for the second straight week. This week he shared the award with Colorado State quarterback Bradlee Van Pelt. It is the fourth-consecutive MWC weekly offensive award for Warfield, dating back to the last two games of 2002. Warfield's latest honor came after he rushed for 181 yards and 3 touchdowns against Texas A&M. The Crockett, Texas, native rushed for 141 yards and all 3 TDs in the second half to lead Utah to a near-upset of the A&M Aggies. For the game, he rushed 36 times and averaged 5.0 yards per carry.
Cal leads the series with Utah 4-1 and has a current one-game win streak, having beaten the Utes 24-21 in Berkeley in 2000. Only one of the previous games was played in Salt Lake City, with Cal scoring a 35-22 victory in 1963. Utah and Cal went 36 years between games until their 2000 clash.
UTAH VS. THE PAC-10
Utah has played all of the Pacific 10 schools and is 45-87-3 all-time against them. Utah's win-loss breakdown against the Pac-10 schools follows: Arizona 17-15-2, Arizona State 6-16, California 1-4, Oregon 7-17, Oregon State 4-8-1, Southern California 3-6, Stanford 2-3, UCLA 0-7, Washington 0-6, Washington State 5-5.
UTES ON ESPN
This week's game with Cal is Utah's third all-time and its first home appearance on ESPN Thursday Night Football. Utah, 0-6 all-time in ESPN-televised games, is 0-2 in Thursday ESPN telecasts. In their two prior attempts, the Utes lost to Fresno State in 1997 (27-13) and to Colorado State in 1999 (31-24).
RED HOT IN THE RED ZONE
Known for his red zone production in his previous head coaching job, Urban Meyer
has not disappointed as Utah's coach. Utah is 9-11 (82%) inside the red zone, with 7 touchdowns and 2 field goals. Last year, Meyer coached the most productive red zone team in the nation in Bowling Green, which scored on 61 of 63 (96.8%) trips inside the 20, including 52 touchdowns.
BY THE NUMBERS
Utah is 38-20-5 all-time in games played on Thursday ... Utah's 9 fumbles against Texas A&M is tied for the second most in school history and is the most by a Ute team since 1953. The 14 combined fumbles between the Utes and the Aggies is tied for fourth in the U. books. However, Utah's 3 fumbles lost and the 6 combined fumbles lost by both teams does not rate a place in the records ... Utah won just about everything but final score against Texas A&M. The Utes dominated time of possession (37:23-22:37), had 6 more first downs, rang up 415 total yards to A&M's 368 and ran a whopping 41 more plays.
Utah will go 16 days between games after playing Cal. The Utes, who take one of their two "byes" next week, won't play again until Sept. 27 when they open league play against defending champion Colorado State ... Utah was picked to finish fifth in the Mountain West Conference in the preseason media poll ... Utah's all-time record is 537-402-31. The Utes are 336-167-16 at home, 18-10 in Rice-Eccles Stadium (1998-on), 190-221-13 in road games and 11-14-2 in games played at neutral sites.
RUNNING BACK NOTEBOOK
> Senior running back Brandon Warfield
(5-10, 214) leads the MWC and ranks fourth in the nation in rushing, averaging 177.0 ypg. Warfield has rushed 69 times for 354 yards (5.1 yards per carry) and has a team-best 4 touchdowns.
> Warfield has back-to-back 100-yard games (173 vs. USU and 181 vs. Texas A&M) and six career-100 yard games. He has four straight "centuries," dating back to last year. His six career 100-yard games is tied for sixth in school history.
> Warfield's 181 yards against Texas A&M is his third-best ever. He rushed for 194 yards vs. Brigham Young and 193 yards vs. Air Force last year.
> Warfield (5-10, 214) has been named Mountain West Conference co-Offensive Player of the Week for both games this season. Against Utah State on Aug. 28, he rushed for 173 yards and a touchdown. He has now won four straight MWC offensive player of the week honors from the conference: He was cited by the league in the final two games of last year, as well.
> Warfield, a preseason all-conference running back, made the second team last year after coming out of a planned redshirt year to replace the injured Marty Johnson.
> Marty Johnson (5-11, 240, Sr.) is listed as doubtful to play this week. He has been out of action since early in the preseason camp with a lingering foot injury. Before a season-ending knee injury last year, Johnson led the NCAA in rushing after two games, averaging 202.5 yards per game.
> Junior Brett Elliott
, Utah's starting quarterback for the last eight games, including both so far this season, broke his (left) wrist on the final play of Saturday's game. Elliott will be out at least four weeks.
> Elliott, 4-4 in his career as the starter, was 29-59 for 304 yards and 2 touchdowns in the first two games this year. He completed 49% of his pass attempts while averaging 152.0 yards per game. Elliott is also Utah's second leading rusher with 25 rushes for 73 yards and 1 TD.
> Elliott's replacement will be either sophomore Alex Smith (6-4, 202) or senior Lance Rice (6-2, 208). The coaches will make that decision later in the week after seeing them practice. Smith has played in two games in his career and one this year. In the second half of Utah's win over Utah State on Aug. 28, Smith completed 5-7 passes for 86 yards and 2 TDs. As a true freshman last fall, he played in one game and completed 2-4 passes for 4 yards (1 interception) against San Diego State.
> Rice has not played yet this year, but is Utah's most experienced quarterback. He has played 22 games and is 12-8 as the starter. Rice started three games as a freshman, all 12 games in 2001 and the first five games of 2002.
> Starter Paris Warren
will come off his one-game suspension and play this week. Even missing a game, he is Utah's leading receiver with 7 catches for 103 yards and 1 TD.
> Freshman starter Steve Savoy is questionable for this week's game after injuring his ribs in the first half of Utah's game with Texas A&M. If he can't play, look for walk-on John Madsen, who made two impressive grabs in an 82-yard, 1 TD game against A&M, to get a shot at starting. They were the first NCAA receptions for Madsen, a JC transfer (Snow College) who joined the team in preseason camp.
> Junior defensive back Bo Nagahi played receiver, as well as defensive corner and returner against A&M. Nagahi had 1 catch for 13 yards in that game.
OFFENSIVE LINE NOTEBOOK
> Utah's offensive line has not allowed a sack in two games this season.
DEFENSIVE LINE NOTEBOOK
> All-conference senior defensive end Jason Kaufusi
(6-3, 250) remains on the disabled list with a shoulder injury. Kaufusi, a two-time first-team all-conference defender and a unanimous preseason all-conference pick, has not practiced since undergoing arthroscopic shoulder surgery in July.
> The top tacklers on the line are nose guard Steve Fifita (7 tackles, 0.5 tackles for loss and 2 pass breakups) and tackle Sione Pouha (7 tackles, 0.5 tackles for loss).
> Tackle Lewis Powell leads Utah with 2.5 tackles for loss.
> Middle linebacker Ray Holdcraft
is Utah's second-leading tackler with 13. He also has 0.5 tackles for loss and a pass breakup.
> Senior strong safety Dave Revill
, a preseason all-conference pick and Utah's top tackler in 2002, is again No. 1 on the tackle charts with 15. He also has 0.5 tackles for loss and a forced fumble.
SPECIAL TEAMS NOTEBOOK
> Bryan Borreson
is 2-3 in field goals, 6-8 in PATs and has 4 touchbacks on 12 kickoffs. His long field goal this year is 36 yards. Utah's team touchback total is 4-14.
> Punter Matt Kovacevich had an exceptional night against A&M. The first-year juco transfer booted punts of 55 and 52 yards and averaged 46.0 yards on 7 punts. He also placed 3 punts inside the 20.
"Bringing a Pac-10 team the caliber of California to Rice-Eccles Stadium is great for Salt Lake City and our student body. We're also excited about playing on national television. It's a great opportunity to showcase Utah football. Cal is a very good football team, a very fast team, that is extremely well coached and plays hard. They lost a lot of seniors off last year's team and to play as well as they have is a tribute to the staff.
"Injuries are obviously a big concern for us, especially playing against a team as good as Cal. We were missing four potential all-conference players against Texas A&M and we could have five starters out for this game: Brett Elliott, Jason Kaufusi, Marty Johnson, Chris Kemoeatu and Steve Savoy. But we can control only what we can, which means we need to get some other guys ready. It is time for Alex (Smith) or Lance (Rice) to step up. The sign of a good program is when the No. 1 quarterback goes down, the No. 2 guy is ready to play."