Meyer hoping to quickly bring back wins at Utah

Updated: August 27, 2003, 7:49 PM ET

SALT LAKE CITY -- In his first day at Utah, coach Urban Meyer made it clear to his new players that he was intent on the Utes winning games again and doing it quickly.

Intent, focused, determined and downright resolute.

"From day one, our expectation level, our attitude just went way high," defensive back Dave Revill said. "I could tell, the way he walked in with his aura and everything, he just seemed like a winner."

Meyer makes his debut with Utah on Thursday night when the Utes host Utah State.

The last time Meyer took over a program was 2001 at Bowling Green, which hadn't had a winning season since 1994. Meyer remembers the university president telling the Falcons before the 2001 season opener against heavily-favored Missouri that winning and losing weren't everything.

"I was thinking, 'The hell it's not," Meyer remembered.

"When he left I said 'That is not the intent of this game," said Meyer, heavily emphasizing "not."

Meyer's pregame speech apparently registered more than the president's. The Falcons upset the Tigers 20-13 as Meyer began a successful two-year run at Bowling Green. After going 17-6 with the Falcons, Meyer was hired to coach the Utes, who went 5-6 last season.

While Utah doesn't have the tradition of a Notre Dame or Ohio State, which are among the schools where Meyer has been an assistant, Meyer said it's bigger than Bowling Green.

"I remember going to my first press conference there ... 'Are you guys still Division I," Meyer said he was asked. "The expectations are much higher."

Before last year, the Utes had finished with a winning record in seven of the eight previous seasons. Utah was 8-4 two years ago and Meyer wants to see a quick return to that kind of success.

And he's emphasized that to the Utes, while overhauling the offense and spreading it out.

"One of his main focuses is to let people know that Utah football is a winning program," linebacker Ray Holdcraft said. "We have a lot of good players here. We have a good coaching staff. It should happen."

Utah State has not won a season opener since beating the Utes 21-14 in Salt Lake City in 1997. Utah won 23-3 last season in Logan after holding just a 7-3 lead after three quarters.

"Year in and year out, they are as good as anyone we play on defense," Utah State coach Mick Dennehy said. "They are disciplined. They are well-coached. They don't beat themselves defensively."

The Aggies play their first three games on the road. After Thursday, Utah State visits Nebraska next weekend, followed by a trip to Arizona State on Sept. 13.

Thursday is the first of seven road trips for the Aggies, who are without two of their top offensive threats from last season in quarterback Jose Fuentes and receiver Kevin Curtis.

Fuentes passed for 3,268 yards and 20 touchdowns as the Aggies averaged 308 passing yards per game. His favorite target was Curtis, who had 74 catches for 1,258 yards and nine touchdowns.

Both were seniors last year.

Fuentes' replacement, Travis Cox, has completed just nine of 16 passes as a backup, but Dennehy said he is comfortable giving him the starting job.

"I am very pleased with how the kids have responded from an offensive standpoint," Dennehy said. "I am excited to watch Travis play. It has been a while since he has had an opportunity. I think he has prepared himself very, very well."

This story is from's automated news wire. Wire index