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Going into the season, the task of replacing two-time Ray Award-winning punter Tom Hackett was a priority for Utah coach Kyle Whittingham and his staff.
Hackett put together a dream career at Utah, which ended after the 2015 Las Vegas Bowl.
Quickly, Utah secured their next punter. Like Hackett, Mitch Wishnowsky is also Australian, although he spent a year at Santa Barbara City College before signing with Utah. Whittingham was on Wishnowsky early during the recruiting process and his timely interest paid off.
"Straight from the get-go, it was all about Utah for me," he said.
Wishnowsky looks like a linebacker. He's 6-foot-3 and weighs about 220. His long, surfer-like blonde hair makes him look bigger, somehow.
But he's a punter, all right.
Through the first five games of the season, the Utes are leading the country in net punting. Every time Wishnowsky kicks, Utah gains an average if 47.55 yards in field position. Ohio State is second at 47.18. North Carolina State third at 47.10.
Utah, Ohio State and N.C. State are a combined 11-2 going into this weekend, when the Utes play Arizona on Saturday at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
Wishnowsky deflects credit for his country-leading ability to flip the field.
"Ideally, you want location," he said. "You also want it high and you want to put it in the [red] zone. But lot of it has to do with the coverage and the snap, which is perfect every time. I have to say I rely a lot on all the other fellas."
Lotulelei to return
Because of a shoulder injury, defensive tackle Lowell Lotulelei missed most of Utah's 31-27 win over USC two weeks ago, and didn't play in Cal's 28-23 win over the Utes. Lotulelei practiced this week and is expected to play against Arizona.
Defensive coordinator Morgan Scalley knows the importance of getting his blocker-eating, gap-stuffing 310-pound junior on the field.
"Lowell is a very good football player," Scalley said. "Teams have to really account for him. He's a punisher up front. He clogs the hole. You know with Lowell you are going to get what you want to get out of him. It's good to have him back."
Tight ends ready for bigger role
Utah's top tight ends Evan Moeai, Harrison Handley and Wallace Gonzalez have caught 14 passes for 154 yards in the first five games.
Assistant coach Fred Whittingham says Gonzalez didn't travel to Cal due to illness. Everybody will be available against Arizona and Whittingham says it's only a matter of time before his players have a more visible impact.
He likes their route-running, spacing and effort, even though "they haven't been targeted a lot" by Utah quarterback Troy Williams. But one of these days, Whittingham says, that will change.
In the loss to Cal, Moeai had a chance to make a play at the goal line in the final seconds. But Williams' pass was a fraction behind him and the ball slipped through his hands.
"Honestly, what was going through my mind was, when he didn't catch the ball, I was thinking it was kind of a fortunate thing because of where [the defender] was in relation to where he was," Whittingham said. "I thought [the defender] was going to get him and that would have been the last play. So I was actually thinking it was a blessing in disguise that he didn't catch that ball."
1994 football team into Hall of Fame
The 1994 football team, which finished 10-2 and ranked 10th in the country, will be inducted into the Crimson Club Athletics Fund Hall of Fame on Friday night.
The team will also be honored during the Arizona game.
Under coach Ron McBride, the Utes won eight straight games to open the season, including a 34-16 victory over eventual Pac 10 champion Oregon. Utah later defeated BYU 34-31, and Western Athletic Conference champion Colorado State, 45-31. In the Freedom Bowl, the Utes beat Arizona, 16-13.
Other members of the Hall of Fame's Class of 2016 are Shannon Bowles (gymnastics), Jim Giottonini (men's swimming), Kathy Kreiner (women's skiing), Pace Mannion (men's basketball), Pat Miller (ski coach) and Kim Smith (women's basketball).