Utes say they are better, more prepared than last year
Utah football • Team says it's better, looks to avenge '09 beatdown.
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Utah quarterback Jordan Wynn doesn't remember Utah's 55-28 loss at TCU in 2009 for the lopsided defeat in itself, but for the way it started.

"They got up on us so fast," Wynn remembered. "The band was loud, they were talking smack and they just crushed us. There is no other way to put it."

The loss against the Horned Frogs admittedly stunned the Utes. Not since losing to UNLV 27-0 in 2007 had the Utes suffered such a big defeat. Even then, that loss to the Rebels could be explained away as mostly Utah's fault for underestimating the Rebels.

There was no underestimating TCU last year. The Utes flat-out just got kicked and beaten into the ground.

After a Shaky Smithson 10-yard touchdown run tied the game at 7-7, TCU scored four unanswered touchdowns and enjoyed a 38-14 halftime lead.

"It was a shocker," Utah center Zane Taylor remembered. "Every game we'd played we'd either had a solid victory or a close loss and we got it handed to us by them last year. We are going into this game with a little revenge in our heads."

The Utes might have revenge in mind, but they have a better sense of urgency too, starting with their quarterback.

Wynn made his first start the week before the TCU game and enjoyed the best debut ever by a Utah true freshman, leading the Utes past New Mexico 45-14.

But whatever confidence and false sense of security that victory gave him against a bad team was knocked out of him by the fourth-ranked Horned Frogs, who held the Utes to just 284 yards of total offense.

Wynn not only learned what it felt like to lose a game as a starter, but also learned the importance of a strong start.

"We've got to take care of the ball and field position and we can't put our defense on short fields," he said. "We have to go out and move the ball and play well."

While TCU looks every bit as good or better than it was last year, the Utes say they are an improved team, too.

Utah's offense has more weapons and the defense has improved, especially across the defensive line.

"From an offensive standpoint we are a lot more explosive and we are getting big plays or we can go yard by yard like last game," Taylor said. "Our defense is much grittier, too. It should be a much better game and we are a much better team than we were last year."

Utah's offense went conservative against Air Force, with the Utes running the ball 51 times for 179 yards in the hope of keeping the Falcons' triple-option offense on the sideline as long as possible.

The game plan is much different for Saturday. Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said the offense will be "wide open."

"Jordan will have the entire offense at his disposal and some new wrinkles thrown in, as we do every week," he said. "The bottom line is we need to take care of the football. We did a great job of that last week."

lwodraska@sltrib.com Twitter: @lyawodraska, @sltributes —

Saturday's game

P No. 4 TCU at No. 6 Utah, 1:30 p.m.

TV • CBS College —

By the bad numbers

TCU's 55-28 win over the Utes last year was as lopsided as the final score indicates. Here are some of the categories in which the Frogs dominated the game:

Utah TCU

First downs 11 32

Net rushing 27-65 51-342

Total offense 59-284 80-549

Penalties 14-110 5-45

Time of Poss. 25:53 34:07

Third-down conv. 4-15 7-13