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Utah football: Utes, 'Cats both struggle on the road

Published November 15, 2012 4:13 pm

College football • Utes will play last home game of season on Saturday.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated.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 Utes have never thought of themselves as a better team at home than on the road, believing they could deliver the same kind of intensity no matter where the game was being played.

But after going 0-5 on the road this year, they acknowledge it might be time to rethink the assessment of themselves.

The Utes were outscored 140-63 in their road losses and outscored their opponents 163-54 in their four wins at Rice-Eccles Stadium.

Their only loss at home was to USC, 38-28.

Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said he wasn't sure why his team struggled on the road.

"We played good teams on the road — UCLA, Oregon State and Washington were all tough at home. I think that is part of it, the level of competition, and the other part I can't answer," he said. "In years past we were good on the road, but this year we were poor. It was one of the major issues we had this year."

Arizona is in a similar situation. The Wildcats are 0-3 on the road and were outscored 169-58 in those games. The Wildcats' lone loss at home was to Oregon State, 38-35.

The Utes are 65-21 since 1998 at home and hope they can add another win this weekend against Arizona.

With a late kickoff, the Utes hope the cold weather works in their favor.

"We haven't even had a snow game yet this year," running back John White said. "We can have a blizzard — it wouldn't bother me."

Home sweet home

The good news for the Utes is they get seven home games next year, with Utah State serving as the home opener on Thursday, Aug. 29. Other nonconference games are against Weber State on Sept. 7 and at BYU on Sept. 21, the Utes announced Thursday.

The Utes won't learn when they will play their Pac-12 opponents until January, but they do know they'll play Oregon State, UCLA, Stanford, Arizona State and Colorado in Rice-Eccles Stadium. They'll be on the road against Oregon, USC, Arizona and Washington State.

Washington and Cal are off the schedule for 2013.

The last time the Utes played seven home games was in 1995, when they finished 7-4 overall and 3-4 at home.

The Utes are 383-178-16 at home and 225-239-12 in road games.

No worries

Whittingham said he doesn't worry that his freshman quarterback, Travis Wilson, is putting too much pressure on himself. Wilson is coming off his worst game as the Utes' starter, throwing for only 55 yards, fumbling twice and throwing an interception.

Wilson said this week he was embarrassed by his performance.

"He is competitive, a very competitive kid," Whittingham said. "That is what you want a quarterback to be and we have a lot of guys like that that take not winning football games very hard, and that is what you want. You want guys who are competitive. The more you have invested and the more you have put into the program, the tougher it is to experience a loss and that is what you are looking for, the guys who are that way. You don't want guys who just let it roll off their back."

Scott back?

According to the Tucson Citizen, Arizona quarterback Matt Scott, who missed the Colorado game due to a concussion, is listed as probable for Saturday's game against the Utes.

Scott is the top-ranked player in total offense for the Pac-12, averaging 357.4 yards. His backup, B.J. Denker, was 12-for-14 for 136 yards and two touchdowns in the win over Colorado.

Tailgate time

A new tailgate area is opening this weekend on the corner of Guardsman Way and the north side of 500 South.

Reserved spots for what is being called "Tailgate Island" are on sale for the Arizona game for $25, with the option to renew the space next fall for a season rate. Call 801-587-9894 for more information.