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Utah football notes: Utes safety makes noise, big plays

Published September 26, 2009 11:04 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2009, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Utah safety Robert Johnson is a quiet guy off the field, but on it he continues to make some of the loudest noise for the Utes' defense. Johnson had a hand in two of the first half's biggest plays Saturday in the Utes' 30-14 win over the Louisville Cardinals.

In the first quarter he recovered a fumble as he headed out of bounds and tossed it back onto the field where R.J. Stanford wrapped it up for the Utes.

In the second quarter, he stripped the ball for a fumble recovery.

Johnson had a fourth-quarter interception and a 28-yard fumble return for a touchdown against Oregon.

Johnson was a preseason All-MWC selection but was relatively quiet in the first two games, recording only six tackles combined.

He had five against Oregon and four Saturday against the Cardinals. He also had a pass breakup.

"Coach worked us hard this week on getting more turnovers and I've been working hard on that in practice," Johnson said. "I was frustrated the first two games, nobody was throwing the ball by way, and I just did what the coaches said and waited. My turn came."

Career best

Walk-on kicker Joe Phillips further cemented his spot as Utah's No. 1 kicker by making a 48-yard field goal at the end of the first half.

"It felt good," he said. "I could have kicked it better, but as long as it goes in it's three points."

Phillips, who replaced senior Ben Vroman after he missed three field goals at San Jose State, is 5-for-5 on the season.

Phillips also made field goals from 30 and 24 yards.

Another round?

Utah athletic director Chris Hill said he might discuss another series with Louisville in the future. "Any time we have a chance to play a BCS team, a team from the Big East, we should consider it," he said.

The Utes are 4-0 all-time against Louisville and 7-0 against current Big East members.