Trailing Georgia by a tenth of a point in its last home meet, Utah's gymnastics team was confident it could overtake the Gym Dogs and claim a victory because it was finishing on the floor.
Finishing on that event is akin to having an ace in the pocket for the Utes, as they lead the country with a 49.394 average.
Of the top 10 gymnasts ranked on the event, the Utes have three, with Georgia Dabritz and Stephanie McAllister tied for third (9.906) and Corrie Lothrop tied for seventh (9.888).
That kind of firepower helped the Utes erase its small lead to Georgia and win 197.15-196.95 Friday. Knowing they can pull out such performances as the 49.3 they earned on the floor has given the Utes a new level of confidence.
"We are just deep from the beginning on floor," McAllister said. "We have Becky [Tutka], who starts us off with an 'E' pass, and that is rare for a team to start with one. But then we have 'E' passes all throughout the lineup so we know we have the opportunity to score big right from the leadoff person and keep it building. You can't take anything for granted or get complacent, but we are pretty confident about floor."
It hasn't always been that way for the Utes, who travel to Arizona State for a Pac-12 meet Sunday. For several years Utah didn't have the high level of difficulty found in 'E' passes, the skills rated the most difficult to perform and the ones that often catch judges' attention the most.
To make up for their lack of power, the Utes focused on execution and being technically clean in their routines.
The Utes have gradually increased their power abilities through recruiting in recent seasons, but it wasn't until this year the gymnasts felt they could not only perform the big skills but perform them well consistently.
"Floor doesn't seem as hard for us this year as it did last year," sophomore Corrie Lothrop said. "Last year we had problems and stumbled through landings and things like that throughout the whole year. We are starting out a lot better this year and we have a lot more depth. Even the exhibitionists could go in the lineup and score big."
Utah coach Greg Marsden said while the Utes wanted to recruit more powerful gymnasts, he doesn't believe in forcing skills that aren't there.
"You can only do what you can do," he said. "We've always tried to look at the personnel and their strengths and weaknesses and exaggerate their strengths as much as possible."
The Utes are able show off a lot of difficulty this year since senior Kyndal Robarts has returned from a knee injury that cut short her 2011 season and McAllister continues to improve. Sophomore Lothrop also improved over the offseason and freshmen Tutka and Dabritz both have a lot of difficulty in their routines.
"In any other year Becky could go last for us in the lineup," Marsden said. "This year we really feel we can separate ourselves a bit from others with our floor because we have as much if not more difficulty compositionally than any team in the country. We are trying to take advantage of that."
1. Utah 49.394
T2. Nebraska 49.144
T2. Oregon St. 49.144
4. Arkansas 49.121
5. Alabama 49.106
6. UCLA 49.065
7. Florida 49.05
8. Oklahoma 49.046
T9. Penn State 49.04
T9. Georgia 49.04
Utah at Arizona State