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When Garett Bolles lays a defender flat on his back, he celebrates.
Quarterback Troy Williams has gone back to quite a few huddles where his junior left tackle excitedly brings up the player he just pancake-blocked.
"He tells me all the time, 'Bro, I just got that guy. I got him,'" Williams said with a laugh. "And I'm like, 'Yeah bro, I feel you, I saw you.' Sometimes I don't see him. But most of the time I just tell him I saw him."
Bolles is the kind of man you agree with: If being 6-foot-5 and 300 pounds isn't enough, the former http://bit.ly/2boW33W">top-ranked junior college prospect in America has a nasty streak that seems to have been given rather than taught. He doesn't just push men around the turf, he drives them into the ground. And when they seem like they might be getting back up, he pushes them down again.
The pancakes haven't just been fodder for highlight-happy fans: https://twitter.com/PFF_College/status/790615267101454336">Pro Football Focus tweeted this week that Bolles is their scouting services's top-graded run-blocking tackle in the country, and a key piece of a unit that paved the way for running back Joe Williams' record-setting performance against UCLA.
Without seeing every tackle in the country, coach Kyle Whittingham said he can't be sure. But among Pac-12 tackles, he hasn't seen anyone better.
"He's tough, physical and finishes blocks," Whittingham said. "He's so great at finishing blocks. He's a mean, nasty player."
He added: "Not in an illegal way, but a good way."
Bolles came in with high expectations, and quickly assumed a starting role, billed as a three-way split between him, right tackle Sam Tevi, and tackle Jackson Barton. http://www.sltrib.com/blogs/uofusports/4347902-155/utah-football-notes-rb-zack-moss">He struggled more than any lineman with false starts, particularly in early games against SUU and BYU.
But now it's hard to have him off the field. Aside from strength, Bolles possesses decent speed for his size and can pull into the second level. And the way he keeps defenders on the ground finishing his blocks is the way the Utes want to play on offensive line.
And teammates agree: There's rarely a moment when it doesn't look like Bolles is having fun.
"It's fun to see him out there with a big smile on his face," Troy Williams said. "He's a great competitor. He finishes hard. You know he loves blocking. That's one thing about an O-lineman, you've got to have that passion to go out there and actually block."
Honors roll in for Joe Williams • When you rush for more yards than anyone in an FBS game this year the fourth-most yards ever by a Pac-12 back people will notice.
http://bit.ly/2etNlXf">After rushing for a school record 332 yards and 4 touchdowns on the Bruins, Joe Williams received a lot of recognition: Pac-12 offensive player of the week, Athlon offensive player of the week, and Walter Camp offensive player of the week.
A lot of discussion about Williams has centered on how http://bit.ly/2es4oVt">he's changed from the first two weeks of the season, and how he looks like a different player.
"It's me," he said. "To everybody else, it's coming off a different person than the first two weeks. Just going back to work and taking it day by day."
He admitted that he's gotten "a clearer vision of what's going on," and that he's been able to focus better on the game plan than when he started earlier in the season. There's been a huge difference in production: 75 yards in the first two games, then 511 in the last two.
While Whittingham said that the Utes have tried to limit Williams' production, he's carried 63 times the last two weeks. Williams cited health concerns when he originally retired, but said he's not about to complain about getting the ball more.
"If I'm hot, I'm hot," he said. "I'm never going to shy away from carries."
Butler-Byrd taking shots • Receiver Cory Butler-Byrd had a kickoff return for a touchdown and caught five passes, including a 43-yarder.
And still, one of the most notable moments came as he was being tackled for the second week in a row in the backfield. After landing on ESPN last week http://www.oregonlive.com/beavers/index.ssf/2016/10/devin_chappell_in_right_place.html">for taking a hit from Devin Chappell, Butler-Byrd got rocked again against UCLA. He claims that the hits look worse than they are.
"I get hit all the time," he said. "People actually look at me like I'm crazy because I get up smiling. I smile at people when they celebrate, like, 'It wasn't even that hard.' And then I see it on film, and I'm like, "Ooh." I really don't feel the impact, because it doesn't feel the way it looks."
The Los Angeles native was one of several Southern California Utes celebrating an LA school sweep this past weekend, the second time the Utes have achieved that feat in the last three seasons.
"I know last year we lost to both of them, so I went home in the offseason and got so much stuff for it," he said. "To come back and beat them both this season, that was kind of the biggest thing for me."
Manalo leaves program • Redshirt freshman running back Marcel Manalo has left the Utah football team, the program announced on Monday morning. He leaves the Utes without recording a carry.
Manalo's status within the program appeared shaky following the rash of injuries at the position. He entered the Arizona game after walk-on running back Jordan Howard, and though he appeared in line to make a start against Oregon State,http://bit.ly/2dZ1CJk"> he was eclipsed when Joe Williams returned from retirement.
Coaches seemed to second-guess his readiness, with running backs coach Dennis Erickson recently saying he was still adjusting to the speed of the game. Utah also took off the redshirt of Devonta'e Henry-Cole, making Manalo the only scholarship running back not to get a carry this season.
Manalo's brief tenure with the Utes was marked by one of the most harrowing episodes for the program:http://bit.ly/1RSmRs3"> He and center Lo Falemaka were shot at an off-campus party by assailants who fled and were never caught. Manalo was shot twice, but made a quick recovery http://bit.ly/1M9rMhI">to return to the team and school the next day.