Looking at Utah

Coming off a 23-19 win over the Utah State Aggies, the Utah Utes will come into Autzen Stadium next Saturday and face the eighth-ranked Oregon Ducks. The last time the Utes faced the Ducks in Eugene was 1994. Utah won the game 34-16 and went on to finish the season ranked in the Top-10. Oregon simply went to the Rose Bowl.

Many Duck fans will remember the Utah game in Eugene as the one of the low marks in Oregon history. They had earlier loss to Hawaii and were 1-2 on the season at that point with the media vultures flying low over the heads of Coach Rich Brooks and his staff. However, the next game, against Iowa, the Ducks turned their season and arguably their destiny around winning the next eight out of nine games and gaining sole possession of the Pac-10 Conference championship. Incidentally, the loss to Utah at Autzen was the last time Oregon failed to win a non-conference home game. The Ducks are 58-23 since the loss to Utah, including a 27-20 win at Utah in 1995.

The Ducks hold a lifetime 16-7 advantage over the Utes, but Utah Coach Ron McBride is 2-2 against Oregon. Utah has been a steady program over the years. This year the Utes look for a strong running game behind an experienced offensive line. The question marks going into the season was the passing game. Utah has 23 players who either transferred from Division I programs or from the junior college ranks.

The Utes ran for 213 yards and passed for an additional 147 yards against Utah State. The Utes held a 17-point lead going into the fourth quarter, but gave up 13 points in the fourth quarter. The final score though, was on a punt return as time expired.

The leading rusher for the game was Butte JC transfer and walk-on Marty Johnson. Johnson, 5-11, 225, carried the ball six times for a total of 95 yards including a 67-yard run. The other running back, Adam Tate, 6-1, 229-pounds, was a first team all-league back in the Mountain West Conference (MWC) last year. Tate, who originally committed to Washington out of high school, had 76 yards against Utah State. Another running back who may see playing time is Dameon Hunter, 5-11, 223-pounds. All three backs are transfers from junior college.

The offensive line is big and experienced. Senior Doug Kaufusi , 6-6, 311-pounds, was first team all conference in the MWC. Junior Jordan Gross , 6-5, 306-pounds was MWC honorable mention last year.

Lance Rice, 6-2, 191-pounds, is the starting quarterback for Utah. He was 16 for 32 and 147 yards. The leading receivers for Utah included Cliff Russell, 6-0, 184-pounds, who had five catches for 48 yards. Paris Jackson, 6-3, 190-pounds, caught three passes for 35-yards, and Marty Johnson caught two passes for 29 yards.

Utah's defense could be a surprise to Duck fans. Last year Utah was ranked 10th nationally in defense. The Ute's defense held (Utah State's) Emmett White to 81 yards. Last year White had a record setting effort and 578 all-purpose yards in one game!

The defensive backfield particularly the safeties could be the biggest part of the surprise for the Utes.

Antwoine Sanders, 6-3, 193, had two interceptions last week. Arnold Parker, 6-2, 214, is the other safety, giving Utah size in the defensive backfield. Sanders is a junior college transfer, while Parker was the Nevada player of the year in 1998.

The defensive line has a brother duo of size in senior Ma'ake Kemoeatu , 6-5, 309-pounds and his "little" brother Chris, who is a freshman and is 6-4, 315-pounds. Last year the senior Kemoeatu was honorable mention in the MWC.

Oregon connections: quarterback Brett Elliott, from Lake Oswego High School, and Tommy Hackenbruck, Mt View High School, Bend. Both are redshirt freshmen. Elliott is the back up and has recovered from surgery on his right thumb after the spring camp. Hackenbruck, who had been projected as the number two fullback, underwent knee surgery on April 5 to repair his patella tendon

Kickoff is scheduled at 12:30 PT on Saturday, September 8, 2001.

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