University Of Utah

1977 Utes
(Authentic Reproduction)




Long Beach State’s head man Wayne Howard would be called upon to lead Utah back to a level of respectability. Howard’s path as a coach was a bit unusual since he stepped into a head coaching position from his first day in the profession and never served as an assistant. He made a number of stops but compiled an impressive 122-46-3 record in the process, basing his philosophy on “a strong defense…good kicking game and a consistent and mistake-free offense.” He played football and baseball at California’s University Of Redlands, earned a master’s degree at San Jose State and then posted an excellent winning record at San Jose’s Lincoln High School. He turned around a poor Gavilan JC team and six years later moved up to the University Of California Riverside and again compiled a winning record from a previously losing squad. At Long Beach State he inherited a team that had posted the worst record in the school’s history, took them to 6-5 in 1974, and then 9-2 and 8-2 marks before moving on to Utah. Despite sub-par facilities and the challenge of overcoming the worst three-year record in Utes history, Howard was up to the challenge although his reputation as a positive motivator would be needed with games against Oklahoma and Houston in the season’s first two contests. Giving the team a new look, Howard placed two one-inch white flanking stripes and a white mask on the Utes red shell while maintaining the attractive U-and-feather decals. His 3-8 finish and with a kicker and punter as the only two All WAC choices it would appear that Howard’s first year offered little improvement over Lovat’s final performance but things had begun to turn around. Smallish transfer quarterback Randy Gomez ranked tenth in the nation in passing statistics with receiver Jack Steptoe again standing out before playing with the Forty Niners in ’78. Frank Henry added another 622 reception yards. All WAC kicker Tom McNamara ascended from the walk-on ranks while All Conference punter Rick Partridge transferred in from Tustin (CA) JC and averaged forty-four yards per kick.

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