By DAVE SELLERS
With the Mountain West Conference title on the line Saturday, two of Utah’s premier players are more than ready to get it on.
“I still haven’t forgotten last year,” said Utah running back Mike Anderson, referring to the Utes’ heart-breaking loss to BYU in 1998 when Utah’s 32-yard field goal clanked off the upper-right goal post with only nine seconds remaining in the game.
Anderson comes into Saturday’s game with quite a resume. The six-foot, 232-pound senior was the preseason pick as Mountain West Conference offensive player of the year. After last week’s 204-yard rushing performance against New Mexico, Anderson is averaging 103.5 rushing yards per game for his career — well ahead of the school record of 96.62 set back in 1981-82.
As far as Saturday’s game goes, Anderson feels he’ll be the key for a Utah victory.
“Personally, I need to be a leader out there on the field,” Anderson said. “It’s going to be hostile in there, but if we can get our running game going, it should be no problem.”
Utah defensive end John Frank was also a preseason all-Mountain West Conference pick, and leads the MWC in sacks with 12. Frank says the Utes have to put pressure on Kevin Feterik for Utah to have a chance.
“That’s the key to the game,” Frank said of pressuring BYU’s quarterback. “If we don’t put pressure on him he’ll have a great day.”
Despite his great numbers this year, Frank wasn’t about to talk any trash. In fact, he gave a lot of credit to the Cougars’ offensive line.
“They’re a bunch of big hogs and that’s an advantage for their line,” the 6-5, 277-pound senior said. “They can move their feet pretty well, so I’ve got my work cut out for me.”
Frank is now tied for the Utah sack record with 26, and needs just one more in his last regular season game to set a new mark. He’s excited to be playing that last game at Cougar Stadium.
“I prefer to play down there rather than at home,” Frank said. “I enjoy the hostility and I hope they call me names and throw something at me.”
Anderson said the game means everything to him, not only because it’s against BYU, but because it’s his last game. Like Anderson, who’s also a senior, Frank hopes to go out on a winning note.
“I’ll have a huge smile on my face during pregame,” said Frank. “And hopefully I will throughout the game and after.”