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TE Murphy makes his return for Utes

Published November 16, 2013 10:52 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Eugene, Ore. • Utah's offense welcomed back tight end Jake Murphy in Saturday's game and right away the junior showed what the Utes have been missing from the position for the last four games.

Murphy caught a 34-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter, reaching up with his right hand to snag the ball.

The touchdown cut Oregon's lead to 10-7.

Murphy added another catch of nine yards later in the game.

Originally the junior was thought to be sidelined for the rest of the season, but healed quicker than expected and worked hard to rehab his injured wrist.

"I'm just glad I'm back," he said. "Those were some of the hardest times of my football career, being out the last couple of weeks."

The Utes' offense has been hampered without the lack of Murphy in the lineup. He not only brings a physical presence but is a leader on the field, Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said.

"It is great to have him back," Whittingham said. "The personality he brings to this team is a positive bonus."

Setting the standard

Oregon's defense has been dominating in 2013, but the trend really started a year ago. The Ducks led the nation with 40 takeaways in 2012 as they had 25 interceptions and 15 fumble recoveries.

This year the Ducks are on pace to break that mark.

Including the first-quarter interception Saturday, the Ducks have 24 interceptions and 10 fumble recoveries in 2013.

Spreading the ball

Adam Schulz completed passes to eight different players, with Dres Anderson leading Utah with four catches for 37 yards. Freshman Dominique Hatfield had a career-long 48-yard catch in the third quarter.

Last week against ASU, Anderson and Sean Fitzgerald were the only players to have receptions.

Oregon noteworthy notes

De'Anthony Thomas' 87-yard kickoff return in the third quarter was the fourth of his career, setting an Oregon record...Saturday's sellout was the 95th in a row for the Ducks...Oregon is 45-5 overall and 31-3 in Pac-12 play.

lwodraska@sltrib.com

Twitter: @lyawodraska