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Original Issue

20. UTAH

Defensive lineman Luther Elliss spent the better part of the summer attending wedding receptions—all of them his own. We know what you're thinking. Multiple weddings. Utah. Let Elliss explain. "Rebecca and I wanted our wedding to be memorable, so we had it at sunset on a beach in Oahu," he says of his June 24 marriage to Rebecca Ginger, which was followed by reception number one. "When we got home, we had receptions for friends and family at my in-laws' in Salt Lake City and at my home in Mancos, Colorado."

Three receptions. Sounds like 30 seconds of play in the pass-happy WAC—that is, unless the 6'6", 288-pound Elliss is on the field. As a junior last season he was tied for the WAC sack lead, with 10. This year he should be the best defensive player in the conference. But isn't that like being the arm-wrestling champ of MENSA? "People watch WAC football for the scoring," says Elliss. "That doesn't bother me as long as we score more than the other team."

In the first half of the '93 season, Utah's scoring was inconsistent. Quarterback Mike McCoy endured a touchdown-pass famine of 12 quarters. Then, after the Utes went to a one-back offense, McCoy went on a tear, averaging 407 yards in the air over the last six games. He wound up second in the nation in total offense, and Utah earned its second bowl trip in as many years (to the Freedom Bowl, in which it lost to Southern Cal).

Like Elliss, McCoy should be even better in '94. Last winter his top right rib was removed to combat thoracic outlet syndrome, which limits circulation. "My passing arm received only 25 percent capacity of blood flow," says McCoy, a senior. "This year I suspect my arm strength will get more respect."

The entire Utah squad wants more of that. Salt Lake City, despite being home to the Utes, is still BYU's turf. Every week in the summer, local TV station KBYU airs old Cougar games in their entirety on a show called Friday Night Fandemonium. "We beat BYU in Provo last year for the first time in 22 years," says Elliss. "I'd love to make it two in a row, this time at our place."

Sounds as if someone's in the mood for another raucous reception.