Eric Weddle and Casey Evans are playmakers. The two safeties are an integral part of Utah's defense, and are known for their aggressive play and their ability to force turnovers.
Combined, Weddle and Evans represent one of the elite safety tandems in the West, and have harassed opposing offenses all season long. For the season, the playmaking duo has combined for nine interceptions. Evans also came up with the defensive play of the game against hated rival BYU by stripping Cougar tailback Fahu Tahi for the only turnover of the game.
UteZone.com sat down with Weddle and Evans to discuss their win over BYU and what the future holds for Utah football.
UteZone.com – How do you feel about the win?
Eric Weddle – Great win. Huge for what had been going on this season. It was up and down, not what we wanted with close losses, but it's always great to go into your rivalry game in Provo and come away with a win. We played great down there. It's four in a row for us, and a great win to come away with.
UteZone.com – Eric, you were Mr. Everything out there. How was it different preparing for things that you hadn't done in the past for the Utes?
Eric Weddle – It was just fun. We practiced hard during the week, doing those things. It just brought back old times in high school, when you play all of those positions. We just practiced during the week, did extra film study, and it worked out fine during the game.
UteZone.com – Are you looking to play more quarterback?
Eric Weddle – [laughing] Maybe. You never know.
UteZone.com – You've had three consecutive games where you've faced the top receivers in the conference and basically shut them down each game. What do you attribute your success to?
Eric Weddle – I just take each challenge. They're all three great wide receivers, who can make a play each time they get the ball in their hands. You've got to prepare the right way, and that's what I do, and just know that they're going to get their plays on you, you've just got to limit them. If you can limit their big plays, you will have success against the good wide receivers like them.
UteZone.com – Was Watkins tough?
Eric Weddle – He was tough. Just because of the speed. I've never faced a guy with that much speed, who could just fly away from you. I've got good speed, but when you go against a guy that has open ended speed like that, it's tough. I did well against him. He had a couple of routes on me where he got up the field against me, but I was right there. If he caught it I would tackle him, but I messed up their timing just enough that they didn't connect on those deep passes. He's a good wide receiver, and I think he's going to be great in the NFL if he gets a shot.
UteZone.com – Do you anticipate staying at corner, or will you go back to safety next year?
Eric Weddle – I'll probably go back to safety
UteZone.com – So we'll see the duo returning.
UteZone.com – Casey, walk me through the strip.
Casey Evans – Well I guess I just filled my gap and stood [Fahu Tahi] up. The ball was right there, and I had the opportunity to strip it. I guess I was just the stronger guy and just took it away from him. I just had the opportunity and I took advantage of it.
UteZone.com – How does it feel to get a win over the rival?
Casey Evans – It feels great, especially down in their place. Every time I personally beat BYU, it's the greatest victory of the whole season, and it just feels so great. I don't know what to say.
UteZone.com – You guys have struggled at times this year, but you were able to beat your rival and finish with a winning record. Do you guys feel a sense of vindication with this win?
Casey Evans – Oh yeah. Definitely. Especially because it will give us a great opportunity to go to a bowl game.
UteZone.com – What can we look forward to seeing next year from you two?
Casey Evans – We're just going to work hard this off season, try to be prepared as we can be and try to have a better season than we did this last season.
UteZone.com – Casey, you've developed a reputation for being able to lay the wood on people.
Eric Weddle – He gets it from me.
UteZone.com – Is that something that you look to do, to be a hard hitter, or do you just want to be a good tackler?
Casey Evans – Definitely. Ever since I was a little kid, I've always had a hard head, and I've always loved that when I get a shot I'm going to take it. When you're a safety, you have to have that mentality. Receivers watch film, and when they run across the middle, they are going to think about it in the back of their head. I think the bottom line is that if you don't go as hard as you can, and try to it as hard as you can, you'll probably be the one who gets hurt.
UteZone.com – In the game on Saturday, was there a lot of trash talking going on?
Casey Evans – Definitely. It's mutual. Both teams talk trash. It's a rivalry. That's how it is and that's how it's always been.
UteZone.com – Does it feel better to be able to back it up with a W?
Casey Evans – Yeah, because when you lose and you're talking trash, it's really hard to look back. I was on Harline, probably 6-70% of the game, and we were talking trash back and forth. At the end of the game it was a lot harder for him to look in my eyes than me to look in his.