Utah's dream becomes a reality

Discussion in 'Sports Chat' started by GotGibson?, Jan 3, 2009.

  1. GotGibson?

    GotGibson? New Member

    Two seasons ago, Utah quarterback Brian Johnson sat with offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig and head Kyle Whittingham and broke down the depth chart.

    They identified which players were going to be around come Johnson's senior season and they were all the right pieces for a championship team.

    So, when Johnson learned he was going to have to sit out the 2006 season because of a knee injury he suffered the year before, he marked 2008 as the year that was going to change everything.

    It was fitting that Johnson's kneel down, on the same knee he injured back in 2006, was the final play that sealed the No. 6 Utes 31-17 win over No. 4 Alabama in the Allstate Sugar Bowl.

    "You can't really put this feeling into words," Johnson said. "To be honest, it's been an unbelievable year, an unbelievable ride and I couldn't think of going out a better way."

    Utah finishes the season at 13-0, the only undefeated team in the country and likely ranked in the Top 5 to end the season. It is the best season in Utah history and the win over Alabama is the biggest in Mountain West history in terms of opponent ranking and the magnitude of the game.

    While Johnson said the path to the undefeated season started in 2006, several other players said the commitment started its roots in the summer. After a strong finish to the 2007 season, Utah players committed to one another in the summer and vowed for an undefeated season.

    For the first time that several players could remember, the Utes spent the entire season on the same page. There were no off-field problems, no in-house fighting and no deviating from their goal. The coaches never changed the practice structure. It never valued one game over another. It never put any stress on one individual player. If they were going to be undefeated, they were going to do it as a team.

    "The summer we all had a feeling that we were going to go undefeated this year," safety Robert Johnson said. "We didn't know where we were going to go, but we were going to go undefeated and win the Mountain West title. That was one of our main goals. When we came in in the summer we all had that spirit where it was who ever we play against, we just need to win and show that we're good enough."

    The Utes were good enough, beating four ranked teams this season and ascending to No. 6 in the BCS standings. Utah won most of its games convincingly and ranked No. 15 in the nation in scoring defense with 37.42 points per game.

    It ended the season by defeating an SEC team that was ranked No. 1 nationally for several weeks and which many considered to be a national championship contender.

    "This whole seasons there's been a lot of people that have been saying how we were going to lose to TCU, we were going to lose to Michigan and we were undefeated against BYU and a lot of people were saying how it was going to be a close game," Johnson said. "Even now, everybody said if we were to win we were going to win by three points. It just feels good to show that we're better than what everybody is talking about. Now we can be considered a good team. Utah is the perfect fit for anybody showing that they can play even though everybody's doubting them."

    Now it's a question of whether the nation thinks Utah is a good team or a fluke.

    The Utes should be ranked in the Top 5, but while accepting the Sugar Bowl trophy Whittingham said he was voting the Utes No. 1 since it was the only team to finish undefeated.

    That would be the best way for Johnson and Utah to end their dreams season.

    "You know, what else do we have to prove?" Johnson said. "I mean, our strength of schedule going into this game was actually higher than Alabama's, and we beat Alabama by more than Florida did... And the resume's in itself. I think people get caught up in looking at the athletes and the glamour of a name that a program carries. But that's the reason why you play the game... So I think we deserve it, and I definitely think, without question, we are one of the best teams, if not the best team, in the country."
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