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Football notes: CU Buffs preparing to face consistent, physical Utah Utes

Colorado's Daniel Arias is tackled by a host of Utah defenders during their game Nov. 26, 2021 in Salt Lake City , Utah. (Chris Gardner/Getty Images)
Colorado’s Daniel Arias is tackled by a host of Utah defenders during their game Nov. 26, 2021 in Salt Lake City , Utah. (Chris Gardner/Getty Images)

Colorado interim head coach Mike Sanford already knew the answer when he asked his players what they were doing in 1994.

“None of them were alive,” Sanford said with a laugh during his weekly press conference on Tuesday.

Some of the Buffs, in fact, were still about 10 years away from being born. But, it was in 1994 that Kyle Whittingham joined the coaching staff at Utah.

Nearly three decades later, Whittingham is still with the Utes (8-3, 6-2 Pac-12), wrapping up his 18th year as head coach.

“Obviously, Utah has been a model of continuity,” Sanford said.

CU, of course, has not. Sanford will be the fourth different CU head coach Whittingham has faced in the last five years. The list includes Mike MacIntyre (2018), Mel Tucker (2019) and Karl Dorrell (2020-21).

With continuity, Utah has built a reputation for its physicality.

“They’re physical, they’re violent,” Sanford said. “They’ve cornered the market in the Pac-12 of physicality. And we’re excited for that challenge.”

The Utes are tough on both sides of the ball, but particularly on defense.

“They just are a physical, tough team,” Buffs guard Tommy Brown said. “They go out there, they know what they want to do, and they execute their jobs. It’s gonna be a great challenge for the offensive line and the whole team. But we’re excited for that challenge and can’t wait to go out there with my brothers.”

In the spotlight

Brown, who transferred from Alabama last winter, has certainly made the most of his first season in Boulder.

Brown has been an every game starter for the first time in his career, and he’s got one of the best NIL (name, image and likeness) deals around, modeling underwear for Shinesty.

“I always just thought of myself as an international sex symbol,” Brown said with a laugh. “I just had to let everyone know about it. Thank God for Shinesty for letting me do that.

“When Shinesty called me, they said they were hoping it would hit Sports Illustrated. We wanted it on the cover of Sports Illustrated so we were hoping for it to go big. It’s been a blast. It’s something fun that it’s not a part of football. I’ve had a great time. There’s a lot of people watching college football. There’s a lot of people seeing me in my underwear. It’s about the same thing for me. The people watching isn’t any pressure I feel or anything like that.”


Sanford’s father, Mike, was on the same Utah staff as Whittingham at one point. The elder Sanford was the Utes’ offensive coordinator from 2003-04. … Utah has won the last five meetings. It is Utah’s longest winning streak in the series since taking nine in a row from 1925-33.

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