Adam Swaney, Utah's senior defensive tackle, had only modest success during the regular season, but when he played against his old teammates and former roommate in Thursday's Freedom Bowl, he looked like an All-American.

Swaney, who played two seasons at USC before being suspended from the team three years ago, had three sacks and four tackles for loss, totaling 24 yards. During the regular season, he had one sack and four tackles for loss."I guess it's safe to say that I was inspired going against guys I used to know," said Swaney, who played opposite center Craig Gibson, his roommate during his sophomore year at USC.

"We talked before and after the game," said Swaney. "I'm going to his house tonight. He said I played a great game and that he had a lot of respect for me."

DEFENSIVE ABOUT DEFENSE: Fred Whittingham, Utah's defensive coordinator, grew weary of criticism of the Ute defense this week. Earlier in the day, in an interview with KISN Radio's David Locke, he blasted Steve Bisheff, a columnist with the Orange County Register, for poking fun at Utah's defense. "Coming from him, it doesn't mean much," said Whittingham, who knew the columnist from his days as an L.A. Rams assistant coach. "I know what kind of negative sports writer he is . . . He's a jerk."

Apparently, sports writers aren't the only negative people. "Everybody's . . . including our own head coach, Ron McBride, beating up our defensive team in the papers. I'm maybe a little bit defensive, but I'm also sensitive to what people say about the team, so you didn't catch me in a real good mood."

Utah's defense supported Whittingham's support by shutting out USC for the last 21/2 quarters of play. Of the four touchdowns the Utes surrendered early in the game, two were set up by a special teams mistakes (a long punt return and a shanked, 16-yard punt), and another by an offensive mistake (an interception deep in Utah territory).

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'TIS BETTER TO RECEIVE? It was a big night for receivers. Slotback Henry Lusk was named Utah's Most Valuable Player after catching 6 passes for 140 yards and 1 touchdown, and returning three punts for 28 yards. All-American wideout Johnnie Morton was named USC's Most Valuable Player after making a Freedom Bowl record 10 catches for 147 yards and 2 TDs.

'TIS BETTER TO RECEIVE, PART II: If Pierre Jones, a senior tailback, didn't have a real productive night (1 carry, 9 yards), at least his aunt, Denise Corner, did. When she entered the stadium, she filled out a form for a drawing. At halftime, her name was flashed on the scoreboard, announcing that she had won a 1994 Isuzu Rodeo.

"A friend noticed and told me I won, but I didn't believe her," said Denise. "This is unbelievable. I don't have a car."

NEXT STOP, THE NFL: With NFL scouts looking on, Jamal Anderson, Utah's 244-pound fullback, made a favorable impression. He rushed for 67 yards on 16 attempts, including a tackle-breaking 34-yard scoring run, and caught 7 passes for 61 yards. The Utes had hoped to utilize him more - "We want to run Jamal 20 to 25 times regardless of the score," said offensive coordinator Rick Rasnick before the game - but that was unrealistic after Utah fell behind 28-0.

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