Utah football: Defense makes a stand, stops Cards
After forcing only one turnover in its first home game of the season, a goal of the Utah defense Saturday night at Rice Eccles Stadium was to take the football away from Louisville.
In a 13-minute span of the first half, the Utes recovered two fumbles and intercepted a pass by Cardinal quarterback Justin Burke.
The turnovers helped Utah race to a 20-0 lead. Louisville never recovered and the Utes rebounded from last week's loss at Oregon with a 30-14 victory over the Cardinals.
"We played an awesome game," said senior linebacker Kepa Gaison. "It was an upsetting game last week and we decided we were going to learn from our mistakes and not let it happen again. We came out today and did that."
Gaison finished with seven tackles and 11/2 sacks as Utah limited Louisville to only 261 yards of offense.
Dave Kruger and Robert Johnson recovered fumbles, while Mike Wright had the interception.
The turnovers were "... a huge deal," Gaison said. "Our coaches preached it a lot in practice this week. Anybody who had the ball, we were supposed to try and knock it out. That really came in handy tonight."
Said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham: "Any time you can win the turnover battle 3-0 [in the first half], you will put yourself in position to be successful."
In all, Utah's defense allowed only two touchdowns -- one on a 29-yard drive after an Louisville interception and one on a wildly deflected pass with 8:51 left.
Burke blamed his team's inconsistency for part of the Utes' success.
"We did a good job at times," he said. "We just have to focus every play and not kill ourselves. ... We'll come together. We want to win the Big East championship. That's what these games are for."