Standardised school designs: It ain’t what you do, it’s the way you do it

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Weddle did a little bit of everything for Utes

first_imgE-MAIL: [email protected] Contributing: Dirk Facer, Brad Rock Related SAN FRANCISCO — You’d think the Most Valuable Defensive Player of the Emerald Bowl would get a little more respect that Eric Weddle did Thursday night.The press box announcer had problems with his name all night, calling him “WEE-dle,” “We-DELL,” and “Widdle,” everything but “WED-dle,” as he’s been known by throughout his three-year career at Utah.Weddle was a jack of all trades again in the Utes’ Emerald Bowl victory, playing cornerback, returning punts, running the ball, passing the ball, holding the ball on kicks and even running the ball off a fake field goal.Weddle’s biggest job was watching Georgia Tech’s all-American receiver Calvin Johnson, and he did a superb job holding him to just two catches for 19 yards.”I took it as a challenge, because no one gives you a chance,” he said. “You want to prove everybody wrong.”About the only thing Weddle did wrong was throw an interception in one of his stints as a quarterback. After a botched play, he was trying to throw it away, but had it intercepted in the end zone from 50 yards out. “I didn’t get enough oomph into it,” he said. ANOTHER QUARTERBACK: Utah coach Kyle Whittingham declined comment on his team’s impending quarterback controversy calling it a nice problem to have. He did, however, draw laughs in his postgame press conference by adding Weddle’s name to a pool of candidates for the job that includes Brett Ratliff, who is coming off of the best passing performance in Utah bowl history, Brian Johnson and Tommy Grady. A PLACE IN THE SUN: Utah linebacker Spencer Toone said even if this wasn’t his team’s best season, it deserves a place in history.Asked how the 2005 Utes might be characterized, he said, “I think as one of the teams with the most character.” He continued, “You know what? We’re not going to be characterized as the best team, but as one of the most high-character teams.” MOMENTS TO REMEMBER: Ute defensive coordinator Gary Andersen said despite last year’s historic Fiesta Bowl season, this year’s club provided its own memories.”These kids had every type of life experience you could have,” he said. “They had the lowest of lows when we lost three in a row and now the highest of the highs.” Asked whether finishing as they did this year is as sweet as rolling through every game, as they did last year, he added, “There was a lot of sweetness. Every year is different, but this year provided some very, very sweet memories.” STILL ABOVE AVERAGE: Weddle was both happy and realistic about the Utes’ season, which had a strong ending but a weak middle. “Seven-and-five is still mediocre,” said Weddle, “but it’s better than 6-6.” THE NEXT LEVEL: Utah’s Quinton Ganther, who finished the season with 1,127 yards rushing (fifth-highest in team history), has accepted an invitation to participate in the NFL Draft Combine, Feb. 23 to March 1 in Indianapolis. ranks him as the 18th best running back prospect. Former Utah quarterback Brett Elliott, who transferred to Div. II Linfield College near his home in Oregon two years ago, is also headed to the RCA Dome that week. He’s also scheduled to participate in the Las Vegas All-American Classic on Jan. 14 and the Hula Bowl in Hawaii a week later. ranks him 15th at quarterback. Both Ganther and Elliott are projected to be drafted in the sixth or seventh rounds. SENIOR FINALE: Several senior starters concluded their Utah careers at the Emerald Bowl. The now-former-Utes include captains Jesse Boone, Steve Fifita, Spencer Toone and Ganther, as well as Travis LaTendresse, David Dirkmaat, Chad Jacobsen, Eugene Oates, kicker Dan Beardall and long snapper Brock Condie.”It’s been a pleasure having those guys in the program,” Whittingham said of the entire senior class. He praised their hard work and is elated they were able to finish with a bowl appearance. Boone and Fifita each have a game left to play, They’ll represent the Utes in the Hula Bowl and East-West Shrine Game, respectively, on Jan. 21. RECORD DAY: A combined total of 12 individual and nine team Emerald Bowl records were broken. So, too, was the Mountain West’s three-game losing streak in the game. The league’s lone win may stand for quite a while. Starting next season, the San Francisco-based contest enters into a new four-year agreement to pit teams from the Pac-10 and Atlantic Coast Conference. EXTRA POINTS: Scouts from three NFL teams (Seattle Seahawks, Cleveland Browns and Oakland Raiders) and two CFL franchises (Calgary Stampeders and Edmonton Eskimos) attended the game . . . The Emerald Bowl used instant replay for the first time . . . “Buzz,” the Georgia Tech mascot, was at the center of a trademark controversy with Salt Lake City’s Triple-A baseball team several years ago. The matter was eventually resolved and the Salt Lake Buzz became the Stingers and now the Bees . . . The officiating crew came from the Mid-American Conference . . . Attendance was 25,742. Red steamroller: Utes blitz Georgia Tech for 5th bowl victory in a rowlast_img read more