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Utah's defensive backs went into the season with a goal of being remembered as the best secondary in school history.
That group has performed well in the first three games, with one notable element missing: interceptions. “That's for sure something that's on our minds,” cornerback Julian Blackmon said this week.
Linebacker Chase Hansen and tackle Pita Tonga have made Utah's two interceptions. In defense of the secondary, the Utes have faced only 79 passes in three games. Washington State could approach that number of attempts Saturday in Pullman, Wash.
I’ll have much more to say about this matchup in a preview posted Friday, but here’s the question: Which group faces more pressure this week, Utah’s defense, facing the prolific Cougar offense? Or the Ute offense, which has had two weeks to stew about its seven-point effort vs. Washington?
Rounding them up
With extra time to review the Washington game during the bye week, I talked to Tonga and tight end Connor Haller, who each could have (or should have) scored a touchdown. They were gracious to discuss those moments. (TRIB)
Coach Kyle Whittingham did something unusual, basically assigning the offense a minimum point total against WSU and forgiving the defense in advance. (TRIB)
Tribune columnist Gordon Monson made a suggestion for Utah’s offensive philosophy, going forward. (TRIB)
Cody Barton has emerged as a star in his senior season, and Tribune photographer Francisco Kjolseth produced a terrific shot of him after practice. That’s more than worth a look. (TRIB)
Long ago, I planned a story for this week about Weber State student Kelly Hilinski and how he cheers for his brother, the Washington State quarterback. As we know, the story changed, and Kelly spoke eloquently about Tyler’s life. (TRIB)
Basketball practice starts Thursday. Larry Krystkowiak’s young team will be fun to watch as it develops, this season and beyond. (TRIB)
And the announcement of the Maverik Center’s hosting the Pac-12 women’s gymnastics championship for the next three years is big news, as reported by Christopher Kamrani. (TRIB)
A few more links
Doug Robinson of the Deseret News spoke to former Ute star Eric Weddle and put his NFL career into context. (DNEWS)
The Spokesman-Review does a great job covering Washington State. Here’s a view of the Utes from Spokane. (SPOKESMAN)
And here’s a ranking of the Utes in the Pac-12, via the Arizona Daily Star of Tucson. (STAR)
Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News makes his weekly Pac-12 picks. (MERC)
• Ute golfer Kyler Dunkle is remembered as the runner-up to young Preston Summerhays in the State Amateur this past summer, but Dunkle is distinguishing himself in the college season. He won his second straight tournament this week, beating Colorado’s Trevor Olkowski on the first playoff hole in the Buffaloes' event at Erie, Colo. Each shot 9 under par for 54 holes. The Utes finished second to Colorado in the 16-team field.
• Utah’s women’s volleyball team stayed in the Top 25, even after losing to Colorado and UCLA to begin Pac-12 play. That illustrates the talent and depth of the conference. The Utes (8-5) will visit No. 22 Washington State on Friday and No. 13 Washington on Sunday.
• The Ute women’s soccer team extended its trend of allowing late goals, falling 1-0 at Oregon in its Pac-12 opener. Utah remains on the road this weekend, visiting Arizona on Friday and Arizona State on Sunday.