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While his teammates are hyping themselves up with hip-hop, rock and other high-adrenaline music, Stevie Tu'ikolovatu is slowing down his heart rate.
He listens to Bob Marley, Lucky Dube even church music. He'll listen to it on the bus ride and pregame. A reporter asked the 24-year-old junior if he's the only college football player around who "gets fired up" by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
Tu'ikolovatu: "I think so. It works for me. It helps me calm down."
One of Utah's oldest players, Tu'ikolovatu is comfortable moving at his own pace.
He even was able to poke fun at himself after his 37-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown in Utah's 45-24 win over Fresno State on Saturday.
"The only time [defensive linemen] get a chance to score is in video games," he said, over the chuckles of several reporters. "That was probably a 9-flat [second] 40 [yard dash] on Saturday. I think the shock slowed me down."
Tu'ikolovatu was one of several linemen who saw his role dwindle in 2014 a bit after then-freshmen Lowell Lotulelei and Filipo Mokofisi became more prominent playmakers. But Tu'ikolovatu and senior Viliseni Fauonuku have taken up more rotation time this season under defensive coordinator John Pease with good results.
While the defensive line still hasn't generated the quarterback pressure the Utes desire, they've been stiff up front, good for the Pac-12's second-best run defense (105.7 yards per game).
"I think the biggest help for me has been Coach Pease, helping us stay square and just helping do our one-eleventh," he said. "He's helping us be patient."
Tu'ikolovatu said the defense is excited at the prospect of facing Vernon Adams "[We'll] get some exercise, I guess" but also preparing to face a potential pocket passer in Jeff Lockie. There's also a tough match-up with running back Royce Freeman, whose running style can be most readily comparted to the runaway boulder from Indiana Jones.
"Every time he's going to run at you, he's going to bring a lot of power," he said. "We've just got to settle down. We can't be light on our feet."
The focus is squarely ahead. Tu'ikolovatu already got some of the celebration out of his system on the flight home Sunday morning, as he teased Siale Fakailoatonga for tripping on the turf when he had a surefire opportunity to score.
"I was giving him a hard time about me having more touchdowns than him on the seasons," he said. "We asked him if he was allergic to touchdowns."
Butler-Byrd strutting his stuff • On a 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, it can be hard to pick at the flaws. But some of Cory Butler-Byrd's close friends had no problem texting him afterward, teasing him for his running form, which was something less than Olympic quality.
"I was running kinda ugly," he said.
But beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and enough of the Pac-12 media thought Butler-Byrd's rumbling, stumbling return while breaking three tackles was good enough to name the JuCo transfer the conference's special teams player of the week. He's the third Ute in a row to earn a weekly honor from the Pac-12 after Justin Thomas and Gionni Paul were named the defenders of the week after Michigan and Utah State, respectively.
It was probably hard for Utah to nominate a top special teamer, given that Britain Covey followed up Butler-Byrd's highlight with his own 77-yard punt return right afterward. Butler-Byrd said the freshman, ever competitive, didn't want to let his teammate completely steal the show.
"That's kinda big to both get our first touchdowns in the same game," he said. "For it to come back-to-back, that was super exciting. I think my return kind of pushed him."
One might wonder if Butler-Byrd's playmaking ability might migrate back to offense, where the Utes are lacking explosive passing plays. That might happen, Kyle Whittingham confirmed.
"This is his first time in the program; he missed spring ball, so we want to be sure we don't put too much on his plate initially and let him grow into things," Whittingham said. "He's playing good defense for us right now. Obviously, he's a weapon in the return game and so the next step in that progression is to see if he can help us on offense and that will happen at some point this season."
Hatfield case continued • Utah junior cornerback Dominique Hatfield was no longer listed as a co-starter on Monday'stwo-deep, earning the top spot over junior Reginald Porter after re-entering the fold against Utah State. But Hatfield will have to wait longer for resolution on a misdemeanor assault charge.
Hatfield appeared for a pretrial conference at Salt Lake City Justice Court on Monday morning, but prosecutors said they have evidence that they still need to share with the defense.
Senior assistant city prosecutor Scott Fisher declined to elaborate about the nature of the evidence, but Hatfield defense attorney Greg Skordas said he was told it is a witness statement.
The delay is "very, very common in misdemeanor cases," Skordas said. "it's not unexpected or particularly disappointing. It's just the way it goes."
A new pretrial conference was scheduled for Nov. 16.
Briefly • Cornerback Tavaris Williams, whom the coaching staff was high on during camp, will miss the rest of the season due to an injury he suffered against Michigan. … Utah's upcoming game against Oregon will be on Fox. The Utes are 1-1 all-time on Fox-televised games, last playing on the network in a 2012 loss to UCLA. Utah's win on Fox was the 2009 Sugar Bowl. … The Drive begins this week, showcasing Utah and Oregon State in a behind-the-scenes "Hard Knocks" format. The first episode airs Wednesday, Sept. 23 at 8 p.m. MT on Pac-12 Networks.
Reporter Matthew Piper contributed to this story.
Fresno State QB arrested after loss to Utah
Fresno State quarterback Zack Greenlee was arrested on charges of disorderly conduct and drinking in public and released from jail hours later, authorities said Monday. Greenlee, 20, was arrested early Sunday after police responded to a disturbance call about a loud party and officers saw him toss a beer bottle on a nearby yard, Fresno Police spokesman Lt. Joe Gomez said.
Bulldogs' linebacker Brandon Hughes, 21, was also arrested and charged with obstructing a public officer after he refused to leave the area.
The arrests come before it was announced quarterback Chason Virgil is out for the season following a broken clavicle suffered in Saturday's game against Utah.