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Matt Piper and Kyle Goon cover University of Utah sports teams for The Salt Lake Tribune. Matt Piper is on twitter at @matthew_piper, Kyle Goon is on twitter at @kylegoon

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Utah, Georgia Tech focused on the run

Utah coach Kyle Whittingham and Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson attended a joint press conference here in El Paso, Texas this morning as both teams settled in for their Sun Bowl preparations.

No surprise the main topic was about the running game, namely how Georgia Tech was going to use the option and how the Utes would try to stop it.

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Johnson said Utah's defense looked like one of the best against the run he has seen.

"They run well to the ball," he said. "Their defensive line, linebackers and secondary are all physical, good tacklers. That said, we have to do what we do. We can't change what we do so we have to find a way to execute a little bit."

From Johnson's perspective, he predicted the biggest difference in the game will be his team's ability to stop Utah's John White.

Georgia Tech's rushing defense is giving up 162.9 yards a game this year to rank just 70th nationally.

"The biggest difference in the game could be can we stop their rushing attack," Johnson said. "I'll be real honest. We've struggled with power running teams all year so it's going to be a huge challenge to our front seven to see if we can stop their run."

As for the Utes, Whittingham said Utah's experience against the option should help the Utes.

"You can't stop it, you just try to keep it under control," Whittingham said.

Whittingham was asked several questions about the Utes' bowl preparations since he is 6-1 in bowl games. He gave his usual standard answer, saying there are no secrets in how the Utes prepare and that he shares his philosophies with other coaches who call him asking for ideas.

The Utes don't take bowl games for granted and work as hard in preparing for them as they do for a regular season game, Whittingham said.

"We're not guarded about it," he said. "It's about the team's mentality and attitude. We have a model bowl preparation we follow that we modify and tweak depending on when the bowl game is but it's the same mentality and routine."

Whittingham said he wasn't clamping down on his players' use of twitter or other social media outlets this week. Last year receiver DeVonte Christopher stirred up the hornets' nest by referring to Boise State as 'Girlse State.'

"I know he learned from that and hopefully we've all learned something and the rest of our team did," Whittingham said. "Our team is pretty good about that. We're not perfect and we have issues from time to time. We have certain parameters and guidelines we follow but it's common sense and good judgement. I'd hate to take away those mediums from them, the fact is it's a part of their life, that is not going to change."

A little off bowl topic was a thought from Whittingham on Utah's recruiting. Whittingham was disappointed to lose offensive lineman Alexandru Ceachir to UCLA but said he was happy with the way Utah's recruiting has gone, particularly with the signing of running back Kelvin York out of Fullerton College.

"He's a great back," Whittingham said. "We are going to be fine with who we've got."

Ceachir was recruited by Chow and committed to the Utes largely because of Chow. He signed with UCLA instead after Chow took the head job at Hawaii.

- Lya Wodraska


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