Utes take low-key approach to bowl announcement

Published December 5, 2009 4:18 pm

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The Utes aren't making a big deal about Sunday's bowl announcement, unlike last year when they hosted a party for the team, family and friends at Rice-Eccles Stadium.

Coach Kyle Whittingham said he didn't have a preference between the Las Vegas Bowl on Dec. 22 against the fifth-place team from the Pac-10 or the Poinsettia Bowl on Dec. 23 against the sixth-place team.

"I just want us to get a destination and find out as soon as possible who our opponent is so we can start our film work," he said.

The Utes defeated Navy, 35-32, in the 2007 Poinsettia Bowl. They last played in the Las Vegas Bowl in 2001, when Utah defeated USC, 10-6. That win started the Utes' current streak of eight straight bowl victories.

Utah offensive lineman Zane Beadles doesn't care where his final game as a Ute was played.

"We've been to San Diego and it was a great destination and Las Vegas is always a good time," he said. "Either way, it will be a good trip for us."

Eliapo coming back

Whittingham said doctors have set a target date of Dec. 16 for clearing defensive tackle Kenape Eliapo.

A senior, has missed the last five games due to an eye condition.

"That would give him just about a week of practice before the bowl game and would allow him to play," Whittingham said. "If it's later than that, it doesn't look good."

Freshman Dave Kruger has started in Eliapo's place.

Road trip

Ute coaches are using the down time before the bowl game to recruit.

The NCAA allows a contact period between Nov. 29-Jan. 30.

"Recruiting never stops, but now that the contact period is here, that accelerates it," said Whittingham, who will spend Sunday through Tuesday in Texas, a priority state for the Utes.

Out of the 14 players committed to the Utes so far, seven are from Texas.

While he can't talk specifics, Whittingham is pleased with how the class is coming together.

"We still have a couple spots left and we're going to be very selective for those last few spots," Whittingham said.

Signing dates for midyear transfers are Dec. 16-Jan. 15. The regular signing period is Feb. 3-April 1.

lwodraska@sltrib.com" Target="_BLANK">lwodraska@sltrib.com

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