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Meyer determined to defend his team

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Though he spent a lot of time watching college football on ESPN, Urban Meyer didn't get a lot of rest and relaxation during Utah's bye week.

He liked much of what he saw on television. What he heard, however, was a different story altogether.

Comments by studio analysts, Trev Alberts in particular, have riled the coach. The Utes, who are ranked 10th in this week's ESPN/USA Today coaches poll and 11th in the Associated Press Top 25, were slighted for reasons Meyer found "almost comical."

Schedule strength and how the Utes would fare in a tougher conference were points of contention. As was an earlier suggestion that Fresno State had a superior team. The latter lost its luster when the Bulldogs were upset by Louisiana Tech.

"I shouldn't let these things bother me," said Meyer. "But my job is to protect these guys, stick up for these guys and fight for these guys. They work awful hard."

Wide receiver Steve Savoy appreciates the concern.

"Coach Meyer gets real hot about that stuff — about announcers getting on us and media and stuff like that," he said.

Meyer, whose team has won nine straight games over two seasons, aimed his dissatisfaction at people wearing ties behind desks who have "absolutely no clue" about what's going on in college football.

"What I think people need to do is go travel around and look at the personnel and watch them practice — get from behind that desk and playing golf and doing what those people do," said Meyer. "Go evaluate. That's why I have great respect for the people that do go out, watch practice, study it and have comments.

"The people that have comments, who really don't know, I guess it's good talk," Meyer continued. "It gets people like me stirred up because I sit and watch that trash. And that's what it is. It's trash."

He's amazed that people with little or no experience in the game are paid to voice their opinions.

"I've done this for a few years. I can usually identify top 25 talent and coaches a little better than some other people," said Meyer. "But I'm not on ESPN . . . giving my opinion, which is good."

As for the "Trev Alberts of the world," the coach wants to know two things.

"I'd like to know his plan to win," said Meyer. "And how he evaluates those things."

BACK TO WORK: The Utes resumed practice Monday after taking a couple of days off for fall break at the end of a bye week.

Meyer was pleased with the effort. It was really good, he explained, better than expected.

"They knocked the rust off quick," said Meyer. "I told them if they have three more days of practice like that we've got a chance to be 6-0.

"That was my concern," he added. "It was an excellent day."

MISSION STATEMENT: Meyer and the Utes insist they aren't looking ahead to bigger and better things.

"The bottom line is preparation and focusing on our next opponent," said Meyer. "The best thing about 5-0 is the chance to go 6-0. Period. Done. There's nothing else involved."

COACHING AWARD: Meyer was named to the "watch list" for the Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year award. Other candidates include Pete Carroll (USC), Mark Richt (Georgia), Joe Tiller (Purdue), Larry Coker (Miami), Dan Hawkins (Boise State) and Paul Johnson (Navy).

The winner will be announced at halftime of the Peach Bowl on Dec. 31.

STRANGERS IN MANY WAYS: This week's Atlantic Coast Conference press release may reveal just how little the league office knows about Utah. The Utes have never faced an ACC football team before.

"North Carolina makes the trek across the United States to Provo as the Tar Heels face Utah at Rice-Eccles Stadium," read the release, which also spelled Meyer's name "Meyeer."

Later on, it mentioned that UNC is 4-1 against current members of the Western Athletic Conference — SMU, Tulsa, UTEP and Rice.

INJURY UPDATE: Starting defensive end Jonathan Fanene, who missed the New Mexico game after suffering a concussion against Air Force a week earlier, is expected to play against North Carolina. Cornerback Ryan Smith is still recovering from a groin injury and won't be evaluated again until Tuesday or Wednesday.


E-mail: dirk@desnews.com