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Utah football: Utes preparing for new kind of attack

Published October 30, 2012 9:12 pm

College football • Washington State has worst rushing offense in the nation.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The Utah Utes normally are a stop-the-run-first kind of team, but their emphasis changes this week against the Washington State Cougars.

WSU has the worst rushing offense in the country — averaging just 33.5 yards a game — but also has one of the best passing attacks, averaging 332.12 yards a game.

"This is a departure for us," Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said. "Every other week, we stop the run and work our way to the pass, but this week is different — it's pass first. They've done a nice job in the throw game."

Washington State has used two quarterbacks, although senior Jeff Tuel has been the main quarterback lately, with sophomore Connor Halliday struggling.

Tuel is 137-for-205 for 1,309 yards and seven touchdowns with four interceptions, while Halliday is 109-for-206 for 1,348 yards and nine touchdowns along with 11 interceptions.

The Cougars' favorite target is 6-foot-4 junior Marquess Wilson, who has 47 receptions for 740 yards and five touchdowns.

Dunn's record official

The Utes finally received confirmation that Reggie Dunn's two 100-yard kickoff returns against Cal was indeed the first time a player has had two 100-yard returns in a game.

Dunn, who also returned one for 100 yards against Iowa State in 2010, is just the third player to have three 100-yard returns in a career.

The others are Georgia's Brandon Boykin (2008-11) and Oklahoma State's Barry Sanders (1986-88).

The NCAA doesn't keep official records of 100-yard returns, so Dunn won't be in the record books for that particular feat.

However, Dunn did tie the NCAA record for most touchdowns from kickoff returns in a game and set the NCAA mark for the highest kick return average (74.0 on three returns).

Whittingham said the only thing that was holding Dunn back in getting more chances to return kicks was his struggle to hang onto the ball.

"There were situations when he didn't judge the ball as well as he should have, and he has worked really hard on that," he said. "He has gotten to the point now where he feels confident. What you saw Saturday didn't surprise us. He has a lot of speed and make-you-miss ability."

With backup running back Kelvin York sidelined with an ankle sprain, freshman Jarrell Oliver and sophomore Lucky Radley have been getting more reps in practice.

Radley, who had two carries for 9 yards against Cal, remains slightly ahead of Oliver, Whittingham said.

However, he said he feels confident either one could spell veteran John White if necessary.

"The bottom line with them is they now know everything as far as pass protection wise as far as the assignments," he said. "That was a little bit of a concern in spring ball and early in camp, and now we feel comfortable with both those guys."