Go Utes!
Go Utes!
No. 14 Ranked Utes Face Tough Test At New Mexico

Alex Smith won MWC Offensive Player of the Week honors for the second time this year.

Alex Smith won MWC Offensive Player of the Week honors for the second time this year.

Sept. 27, 2004


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Below are a few notes from this week's Utah football release. Please download the PDF file for the complete release.

No. 14 Utah (4-0, 1-0 MWC) plays league foe New Mexico (2-2, 0-0 MWC) on Friday, Oct. 1 at 6 p.m. MDT in Albuquerque. The game will be televised nationally by ESPN2.

Utah is No. 14 in both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Coaches polls for the second straight week.

New Mexico handed Utah its only conference loss last season and its most recent loss on Oct. 25, 2003.

The league's best offense meets its top-rated defense this Friday in Albuquerque. Utah leads the MWC in total offense (463.5 ypg) and scoring offense (40.25 ppg), while UNM is tops in total defense (322.0 ypg) and scoring defense (16.25 ppg).

Utah is trying for its first 5-0 start since 1994. Utah has started the season 5-0 eight times.


Utah picked up two Mountain West Conference Player of the week Awards for its win over Air Force. Junior quarterback Alex Smith won Offensive Player of the Week for the second time this season and the fifth time in his career. Ute freshman defensive back Ryan Smith was the co-Defensive Player of the Week for the first time, sharing the award with Derrick Martin of Wyoming. Alex Smith passed for 260 yards and 2 touchdowns and rushed for 84 yards and a TD. He averaged 20 yards per pass, which ranks third in school history for a single game, and averaged 6.5 yards per rush. Ryan Smith had a career-high 10 tackles, including seven solo, forced two fumbles that led to Utah scores, and had an interception and a pass breakup in the end zone. His interception came after the Falcons had moved the ball to the Ute 21-yard line in the fourth quarter with 4:29 remaining and Utah leading 49-28.


Utah overcame a 14-0 Air Force lead by scoring three unanswered touchdowns in the second quarter en route to a 49-35 win. It took a 28-point second half for Utah to hold off Air Force, which scored 21 of its own to finish the game. Marty Johnson tied the school record with four rushing touchdowns, while Alex Smith passed for a pair of TDs and ran for another. Paris Warren's 137-yard receiving game was a career-best. Smith averaged 20.0 yards per completion while throwing for 260 yards and he rushed for 84 yards. Johnson rushed for 72 yards and Quinton Ganther averaged 10.8 yards per rush in a 65-yard game--a career high. Spencer Toone led the defense with a career-best 14 tackles and Sione Pouha also had a career game with 13 tackles (2 for a loss, 2 sacks). Freshman cornerback Ryan Smith had a pass breakup and an interception in the end zone. He also had 10 tackles and 2 forced fumbles.


Utah has been ranked twice going into games with New Mexico and lost both games. In 1994, the Utes were 8-0 and ranked No. 9 (A.P.) and No. 8 (Coaches) when they lost to the Lobos, 23-21, in Albuquerque on Nov. 5. Last year, the Utes were 6-1 and ranked No. 24 (A.P.) and No. 23 (Coaches) when they played New Mexico--losing 47-35 in Salt Lake on Oct. 25. The loss in 1994 dropped Utah three places in the A.P.and six places in the Coaches poll. Last year, Utah dropped out of the Top 25 after losing to UNM and didn't return to the rankings for four weeks (at No. 25 in both polls).


Utah leads the series 28-15-2. Utah won five straight from 1995-99, but UNM has won two straight and three of the last four. Utah has not won in Albuquerque since 1998. The series is tied 11-11-1 in Albuquerque.


Utah suffered a meltdown against New Mexico, losing its only home game, and only conference game, of the year by a 47-35 score on Oct. 25, 2003. Utah's defense had not allowed that many points since 1996, when Rice put up 51 points. The Utes lost all-MWC running back Brandon Warfield six plays into the game to a sprained knee and true freshman Mike Liti rushed for a career-best 81 yards and his first collegiate TD in his place. Alex Smith, under heavy blitzing pressure, passed for 220 yards and 4 touchdowns, two to Steve Savoy. Linebacker Ray Holdcraft's career-high 13 tackles led the defense. Eric Weddle had 9 tackles, a tackle for loss, a sack and an interception.


Urban Meyer is 14-2 in his second season at Utah and 31-8 in three years as a head coach. He is 0-1 against New Mexico. After concluding the best season in Utah history in 2003, Meyer was named the MWC Coach of the Year and The Sporting News' National Coach of the Year. In July, he received the prestigious Victor Award as the 2003 College Coach of the Year. Utah finished the season ranked No. 21 in both the A.P. and ESPN/USA Today Coaches polls. Widely considered one of the up-and-comers in the college coaching ranks, his career record against BCS teams is 9-1 (4-1 at Utah). Meyer, 40, was hired by Utah on Dec. 12, 2002 after leading Bowling Green to a two-year record of 17-6 from 2001-02. Under Meyer, BGSU cracked the AP Top 20 after starting the 2002 season with eight straight wins. Named the Mid-American Conference Coach of the Year as a first-year head coach in 2001, Meyer went 8-3 and 9-3 in his two years at BG. His previous coaching stops included assistantships at Ohio State (graduate assistant), Illinois State, Colorado State and Notre Dame.


Utah has won its last eight games--tied for the fourth-longest win streak in school history--dating back to a win at Air Force on Nov. 1, 2003. The Utes have won seven straight road or neutral site games (starting on Sept. 27, 2003 at Colorado State).


Utah's win over Air Force last Saturday was the 550th all-time win by the school ... Utah failed to draw first blood for the first time of the season against Air Force. The Falcons jumped to a 14-0 lead before the Utes scored three straight touchdowns ... Utah's record on ESPN2 is 7-4. The Utes are 1-0 against New Mexico on ESPN2, beating the Lobos 31-24 in 1996 in Albuquerque. Utah is 1-0 on national TV this year, beating Texas A&M (41-21) on Sept. 2 ... The Utes are 342-168-16 at home, 24-11 in Rice-Eccles Stadium (1998-on), 196-221-13 in road games and 12-14-2 in games played at neutral sites.


Although the Utes saw their perfect string of red zone scores come to an end against Air Force last Saturday, they are still incredibly productive inside the 20, scoring on 19 of 20 attempts (95%). Eighteen of those were touchdowns, for a 90% TD rate. Complete offensive and defensive red zone statistics can be found on page 4 of this release.


Utah leads the MWC in total offense (463.5 ypg), scoring offense (40.25 ppg) and pass efficiency offense (179.99). The Utes are ranked No. 4 in pass efficiency offense, No. 11 in the nation in scoring offense and No. 16 in total offense. Utah is also ranked No. 2 in the league and No. 24 in the nation in rushing offense (208.50 ypg) and No. 4/26 in passing offense (255.0 ypg).


Utah is averaging 44,731 to its first two home games of the season, which is on target to beat last year's school-record 41,478 average. Rice-Eccles Stadium seats 45,017 and the Utes oversold the stadium for their first home game on Sept 2 (45,419 vs. Texas A&M). A near sell-out crowd of 44,043 attended last week's game vs. Air Force.



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