Adam Swaney, one of Utah's starting defensive tackles, is no stranger to USC. He played for the Trojans for two seasons before transferring to Utah. On Thursday night he'll line up against center Craig Gibson, a former roommate.

"It's funny ending my career against those guys," said Swaney.Swaney would still be one of "those guys" if he hadn't been suspended from the team three years ago. According to a story in the Orange County Register, Swaney was suspended for being caught with marijuana at the same time former USC quarterback Todd Marinovich was arrested and charged with cocaine possession. Gibson also was with Marinovich and Swaney at the time, but no action was taken against him.

"I'm grateful the people at Utah were willing to give me another chance," says Swaney.

THE THRILL OF VICTORY: How happy was Utah after beating BYU? "I stayed in my uniform an hour and a half after the game," says nickelback Cedric Crawford. "The people came in to clean up the locker room, and I was still just sitting there, kicking back, soaking it in, running plays through my mind so I wouldn't forget it. On the way home, every time we stopped at a stoplight I'd jump out of the car and do a dance."

STILL PLAYING DEFENSE: Jeff Reyes, a former all-conference defensive end for the Utes, is now a detective for the University of Utah who has been assigned to the athletic department. He was on the sidelines providing security during Tuesday's practice, and he'll be in the team box during Thursday's game.

"Just in case something happens," says the 6-foot-4, 250-pound Reyes. "I just make sure everything's all right, make sure no one bothers the team and the coaches."

SPRING PRACTICE, PART 1? The Utes have held 17 practice sessions since the end of the regular season, but not all of them have been devoted to bowl preparation.

"The first five or six practices we just worked on fundamentals," says Ute coach Ron McBride. "We weren't preparing for anyone. We didn't start working on USC stuff until about a week ago."

In essence, the Utes have held another spring practice session, laying the groundwork for next season. Their 17 "bowl" practices are two more than NCAA rules allow for spring practice.

MISCELLANENOUS: The month-long break between the end of the regular season and the Freedom Bowl wasn't enough for most of the Utes' injured players to regain their health. Only two injured players really benefited from the time off - cornerbacks Mark Swanson and Ernest Boyd, who both played in the season finale against BYU. They still aren't 100 percent recovered from shoulder and leg injuries, respectively, but they'll start on Thursday, with tailback Keith Williams ready to replace them, if necessary.

Dan Henson, Utah's quarterback coach, is coaching his last game at Utah. He has been hired to coach Arizona State quarterbacks.

Harold Lusk, a redshirt freshman who played quarterback, safety, wide receiver and kick returner this year, says he will remain at safety in the future. Because of injuries, Lusk was moved to defense at mid-season, but he still yearned to play quarterback.

"I've found a home," he says. "It's taken me a while to find a position. Now it's time for me to start concentrating on one."

View Comments

After fullback Jamal Anderson told friends that he got a TV for Christmas, somebody suggested that he was spoiled. "Spoiled?!," he said. "Nah. I was very, very good this year."

How tough is it to get a bowl berth in the Western Athletic Conference these days? "The way it is now, you've got a 40 percent chance of making a bowl game," said one Ute official. Let's see, 10 teams, four bowl berths . . . yep, 40 percent.

Among other things, Tuesday's bowl activities included a prime rib-eating contest for the players at a local restaurant - two days before game time. "I told our players, one slice, that's all," says Ute coach Ron McBride.

The Utes should feel right at home this week; 41 of their players are from California.

Join the Conversation
Looking for comments?
Find comments in their new home! Click the buttons at the top or within the article to view them — or use the button below for quick access.