It wasn't the earth-shaking, record-breaking, history-making performance he may have preferred, but Ute quarterback Scott Mitchell still managed to be impressive in last Saturday's 42-30 loss to Nebraska.

Mitchell completed 26 of 44 passes for 297 yards and four touchdowns but was hurt by three interceptions. His first period was far the best, as he completed nine of 11 passes for 111 yards and two touchdowns. But thereafter, the Nebraska defense began closing in on Mitchell and his numbers dropped."He was about the best quarterback I've seen," said Nebraska safety Reggie Cooper. "He displayed a good touch."

For the Utes, the game was proof enough that they should be able to play well in the WAC. "I'm very proud of our football team," said Coach Jim Fassel. "My first goal coming in here was to play hard for 60 minutes, and I think we did."

He continued, "I've always had the utmost respect for (Coach) Tom Osborne and the Nebraska football program. This was the best crowd I've ever played against or coached against. When we came off the field the fans clapped, and I didn't feel it was a patronizing clapping. I think they appreciate good, hard football."

Laudatory comments were heard on both sides. "I think we played a pretty good football team today. They've improved on defense from what we saw (on films) a year ago," said Osborne. "Offensively, they've got a very good team. I think they're capable of scoring a lot of points. I saw a team that could play very well in our conference (the Big Eight) and play very well with anybody."

Utah played as well as could be expected against a national power. Nebraska ran up 459 offensive yards on the Utes. However, two weeks ago Fresno State gained a whopping 633 yards on Utah's defense. The Utah offensive line gave up four sacks but probably protected Mitchell as well, if not better, than it did in the Fresno game. And the Utes proved they at least can have a representative running game, gaining 105 yards on Nebraska. Eighty-seven of those yards were gained by Clifton Smith.

"It feels good, real good to have people notice we can run the ball, too," said Smith. "We're known as a passing team, but this year people have even talked about our running game."

Perhaps most encouraging to the Utes was that they avoided any major injuries. History has often shown that when they play bigger, stronger teams they end up being beaten up badly, which affects their play the rest of the year.

Reserve running back Jason Wood received what team trainer Bill Bean said was a concussion and may be out this week.

Utah, 1-2, meets Hawaii, 2-1, in Honolulu next Saturday night in the Utes' WAC opener.