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November 8, 2011

Utes playing for each other

With the arrival of offensive coordinator Norm Chow, who spent many years coaching in the former Pac-10 conference, the media zeroes in the first year Utah coordinator's experiences with each Pac-12 foe or with his former affiliations or connections to previous employers.

Monday's press conference was no exception as Chow reportedly left UCLA under less than ideal circumstances. While citing respect and loyalty to Chow, the Utes have many reasons for gunning for a win Saturday versus surging UCLA at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City.

The Utes stumbled through the first part of their conference schedule, going 0-4 in the Pac-12, causing many to question the direction of the team, personnel and coaching staff in one of the ugliest stretches in recent Utah history.

"As long as I've been here I've never been under .500, until this year," Bergstrom lamented.

Relieved to finally surpass the .500 mark, Utah still has much at stake the rest of the way. Set aside bowl eligibility, which is reasonably within reach needing just one more win to become eligible for the bowl season.

"It's definitely a good feeling right now to get back on top a little bit," Bergstrom said. "We're hoping to keep this rolling and get to a bowl."

Always a positive in terms of recruiting, extra practice time, national exposure and on occasion, money, reaching a respectable bowl is still very much a goal for Utah. If it could reach one, the feat would be considered a fairly major one considering all the adversity it has faced throughout the season.

While the becoming bowl eligible is certainly an important threshold for any collegiate team to reach, for the Utes who are just starting to put things together after their rocky season, still want the best bowl possible, and especially the best opponent to help catapult them into next season.

A bowl and bowl win isn't the singular focus, however. The Utes want to finish as strong as they can, with the best possible record they can muster, according to senior corner Conroy Black.

"At the end of the day, we're trying to get to eight wins. We're not just trying to get six games and get bowl eligible," said senior corner Conroy Black. "We're trying to get the best record possible. That's eight wins now, so that's what we're working for."

A better record will not only help Utah going into next season, but undoubtedly for the graduating seniors, or even underclassmen considering leaving school early for the NFL a strong bowl performance against a respectable opponent is exactly the springboard they need in order to get to the league.

So then, there are many reasons for the Utes to lay it all out, win as many games as possible or even win out. A very proud program, Utah obviously wants to redeem itself and show the country that they indeed belong in the Pac-12 conference. Therefore, pride is certainly one of them.

Getting to a bowl for any given reason, or all of them is another motivation, as well as playing for their coach out of loyalty might be another.

Setting aside the many valid, if not obvious reasons for going 4-0 over the next four weeks, the Utes have one very simple reason; playing for each other.

"I want to win for the players I play with," senior offensive lineman Tony Bergstrom said. "When it comes right down to it, my loyalties are with the guys I've been her for four years with. I want to win for them, that's my big thing."

Junior punter Sean Sellwood took that thought one step further.

"[We] always talk about that we have to send these seniors out the right way. It's really important for the underclassmen to show that respect, or that gratitude. So we're always working hard, but we're definitely working just a bit harder for our seniors," Sellwood said. "That's one of our mantras in this program, but especially now with the season king of going the way it has. Do it for the seniors. Nothing's more important than that."


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