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Ute football: Whittingham: Onside kick against Wyoming is buried
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2008, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Utah coach Kyle Whittingham tried to dispel the notion that the controversies surrounding the Wyoming-Utah game last season would be a factor this week.

That onside kick? The 50-0 beating?

That middle finger reply by coach Joe Glenn?

"That is dead and buried," Whittingham said. "I've seen him two or three times since then. That is in the past."

Oh, sure it is.

The past can become the future and things buried can be dug up, and you can bet there is a lot of digging up the past in Laramie this week.

At 2-4 and on a three-game losing streak, the Cowboys need something to lift their season from the dismal depths of the MWC. An upset of the Utes (6-0, 2-0) could be just the thing to do that, and Utah's players know the Cowboys will be using the 2007 whipping as motivation.

"That is part of being a football player," quarterback Brian Johnson said. "I can still remember stuff that made me mad when I was playing little league basketball when I was 5. I'm still mad about it."

While Whittingham and Glenn both apologized and said at the MWC meetings in July they'd forgiven each other for their actions in Utah's 50-0 win over the Cowboys, it's common practice for teams to be motivated with comments others make, even if coaches say they aren't affected by such things.

That is exactly what happened last season when Glenn guaranteed a win over the Utes.

Whittingham said he doesn't think about or react to such comments - then called for the onside kick with the Utes up 43-0. The kick failed to travel 10 yards and Wyoming got the ball back with good field position. Glenn thanked Whittingham with a one-finger salute.

The games the coaches played were arguably more entertaining than what was going on on the field. Is payback coming their way? The Utes expect the Cowboys will try.

"I'm sure they are using it as a fuel to heat the fire," defender Paul Kruger said. "I'm assuming they are going to have some hatred and intense stuff going on."

For the Cowboys, getting fired up to play the Utes will be much easier than beating them. Wyoming, which reworked its offense this season under new coordinator Bob Cole, has only mustered a field goal in its three losses to Mountain West Conference teams.

Perhaps what happened last season will serve as motivation for the Utes, too. Knowing the Cowboys will be eager to play them will help the Utes keep their focus.

"I can't guess how it's going to end, but it is going to be a fight," Kruger said. "I don't think they plan on folding and neither do we."

Briefly: Utah linebacker Mike Wright was named the Mountain West Conference's Defensive Player of the Week and kicker Louie Sakoda earned Special Teams Player of the Week for their efforts in Thursday's 31-28 win over Oregon State. Wright finished with a career-best 15 tackles, five solo, and also had a 9-yard sack and two pass breakups. Sakoda had three field goals against Oregon State, including the game-winner as time expired. He also set the school record for career punt yards (8,729), breaking the previous high set in 1969.

Colorado State's Gartrell Johnson and TCU quarterback Marcus Jackson shared Co-Offensive Player of the Week honors. Johnson had 33 carries for 191 rushing yards in CSU's 41-28 win over UNLV and Jackson had 246 yards of total offense in TCU's 41-7 win over San Diego State.

lwodraska@sltrib.com

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