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Tag:Jon Hays
Posted on: December 31, 2011 6:32 pm
Edited on: December 31, 2011 7:19 pm
 

QUICK HITS: Utah 30, Georgia Tech 27 (OT)



Posted by Chip Patterson


UTAH WON. Utah trailed 24-10 in the fourth quarter, but Jon Hays orchestrated two late drives that ended in touchdown passes to bring the Utes back into the game and force overtime. After the defense held Georgia Tech to a field goal on the first possession of overtime, running back John White IV capped off his record-setting season with an eight yard touchdown run to win 30-27.

HOW UTAH WON: Georgia Tech jumped out to a 24-10 lead after scoring touchdowns on a 31 yard pass from Tevin Washington to Stephen Hill and a Quayshawn Nealy pick-six all in a 26 second span late in the third quarter. Utah's defensive line stepped up in the fourth quarter, forcing Georgia Tech into quick punting situations and keeping them from using up the clock. Hays' first touchdown drive was methodical - 10 plays, 71 yards, just over four minutes of game clock.

A Griff McNabb punt return after Georgia Tech's next possession set up Hays at the Yellow Jackets' 24 yard line with 2:21 to go. After missing DeVonte Christopher in the end zone on third down, Hays went right back to the junior wide receiver on 4th and 14 for the game-tying touchdown. Tevin Washington was able to set up backup kicker David Scully with a 48-yard attempt to win the game at the end of regulation, but the kick sailed wide right. The Utes stout run defense continued in overtime, forcing Georgia Tech to settle for a field goal and allowing John White IV to win the game.

WHEN UTAH WON: The game wasn't sealed until White crossed the goal line on 3rd and Goal on the second possession of overtime.

WHAT UTAH WON: A strong finish to an up-and-down first season in the Pac-12. The Utes have had to overcome a 0-4 start in conference play, injury to Jordan Wynn, and a last-minute early season loss to USC on the way to their 8-5 finish. Battling back in the second half was nothing new for this squad, who has been doing it all season. John White IV picked up 115 yards on 26 carries in the win, enough to break the all-time school record for single season rushing. White finishes the 2011 season with 1,520 yards and 15 touchdowns.

WHAT GEORGIA TECH LOST: Their seventh straight bowl game. The Yellow Jackets spent a good amount of time this week talking about ending the six-game bowl slide, and they nearly had reversed their postseason fortunes before giving up the two scoring drives that forced overtime. Paul Johnson has taken the Yellow Jackets to four straight bowl games, but come away empty handed every time.

BOWL GRADE: A-minus. Did not have the highest expectations for this game when it was announced, but both teams brought great effort to one of the few historic bowl games left on the schedule. Despite a frustrating finish to the regular season and the numerous personnel setbacks, Georgia Tech was flying on the field and executing on their option plays. On the other side of the ball, Utah never quit after the two quick scores in the third quarter. Both teams' "want" was at a high level in this game, and it showed on the field. As Hays led the final drives in regulation, you could feel the momentum swinging in the game. All in all, very entertaining football game in El Paso.

GAME HIGLIGHTS



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Posted on: December 29, 2011 6:04 pm
 

Sun Bowl Key Matchup



Posted by Chip Patterson


A look at the key matchup that could decide the Sun Bowl

Tevin Washington, QB, and Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech vs. Utah secondary

Utah's rushing defense ranks No. 8 nationally, giving up just 98.25 yards per game on the ground. Their front seven is solid, and they get great play from their defensive tackles. If they can get a push on the line and disrupt Georgia Tech quarterback Tevin Washington with his reads, fakes, and pitches; the Utes can hope to force Washington to move the ball through the air.

The Yellow Jackets' sophomore quarterback completed just 46.7 percent of his passes on the season, and only threw for more than 100 yards once in his final six games. After throwing nine touchdowns in his first five games, Washington has failed to reach the end zone through the air since Oct. 1. There has been no single event to describe the drop-off - Washington has still performed well running the ball and the offense - just head-scratching passing plays where Washington simply misses the open man.

More often than not, that open man is 6-foot-5 wide receiver Stephen Hill. Hill led the Yellow Jackets in receiving this season with 785 yards on only 26 receptions. He has the frame and athletic ability to sneak downfield and make plays on jump balls. When a defense commits too many men to the run, Hill is able to beat the coverage and find open space downfield. Washington just struggled to hit him at times down the stretch of the regular season.

Utah would probably prefer the Sun Bowl be a low scoring game, giving John White IV enough carries to wear down Georgia Tech's defense. The Utes' defense has been among the best in the Pac-12 in limiting the big play, and their 17 passing touchdowns allowed is tied for second in the league. Utah has picked off opposing quarterbacks 19 times this season, fourth best among FBS teams, and could have plenty of opportunities with Washington under center. However if the secondary sleeps on Hill, the Utes could give up the big play they can't afford against a ball control team like Georgia Tech.

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Posted on: December 29, 2011 5:55 pm
Edited on: December 29, 2011 5:56 pm
 

Keys to the Game: Sun Bowl

Posted by Chip Patterson

GEORGIA TECH WILL WIN IF: They can score early and force Utah to play catch-up. The Yellow Jackets will face one of their toughest challenges of the season in Utah's defense, which ranks ninth nationally against the run. The Utes have a strong front seven that has played well against Air Force in recent years, a team that runs an option scheme similar to Georgia Tech. But the Yellow Jackets' best weapon all season has been the big play. If Georgia Tech can break a couple big yardage plays early in the game and get an early lead, they will force Utah out of their comfort zone offensively. The Utes would love to play Georgia Tech in a low-scoring affair, with both teams grinding out hard yards on the ground. But the Yellow Jackets scored more than 20 points in 10 of their 12 contests this season, and could force Utah into turning to their shaky passing game for offense.

UTAH WILL WIN IF: The can establish a dominant rushing attack to match Georgia Tech's pace. The good news for Utah's defense is that offensive coordinator Norm Chow will likely expect running back John White IV to carry 30+ times against the Yellow Jackets. White was the Pac-12's second-leading rusher this season with 1,405 yards and 14 touchdowns. He has been highly effective when healthy, and the junior college transfer is expected to be ready to play after injuring his ankle early in the season finale loss to Colorado. The offensive line has struggled at times with pass rush, and Al Groh's 3-4 scheme has given quarterbacks fits with their multiple blitz packages. If Utah can allow the run to set up the pass, they will take a lot of responsibility out of the hands of quarterback Jon Hays.

X-FACTOR: Preparation time. Two of the four teams that defeated Georgia Tech this season had at least 10 days to prepare for Paul Johnson's offense. Players from those games admitted to benefiting from the extra time to study the different reads and fakes involved in the complex option scheme. Players are given time off after the bowl match ups are announced, but there is definitely an advantage to having 27 days to prepare for a team as unique as Georgia Tech. Johnson's Yellow Jackets have beaten plenty of teams with extra time to prepare, but the long break does seem to favor the Utes in this situation.

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Posted on: November 6, 2011 2:13 am
 

Pac-12 Winners and Losers: Week 10



Posted by Bryan Fischer


A handy recap of who really won and who really lost that you won't find in the box score.

WINNER: Larry Scott

Both Oregon and Stanford were favored this week but upsets are a matter of life in the Pac-12. The Cardinal had to go into Reser Stadium - a place highly ranked opponents often leave with a loss - and dealt with several big injuries but pulled away from Oregon State with a big win. Likewise, the Ducks hit the road to take on one of their biggest rivals in a tough place to play in when it's rocking. Both came out with wins and set up the game of the season west of the Rockies and make commissioner Larry Scott extremely happy to have plenty of attention on the conference Saturday night.

LOSER: Husky Stadium

If you never got the chance to visit the Pacific Northwest and see a game at Husky Stadium, you missed out. A beautiful old venue right on the lake, there's no place quite like it when Washington is good and the place is rocking. The press box itself is attached to the trademark overhand and can sway noticeably when the fans are into the game. Starting a major renovation next week (UW is on the road the next two weeks and the Apple Cup is at CenturyLink Field), the loss to Oregon marked the final game for a while in a place that opened in 1920. There was talk of a big upset and the 1991 national championship team was honored but neither seemed to help, especially in the second half. The final play of the stadium? A Jesse Callier one yard rush from the two yard line to end a 34-17 loss.

WINNER: Rick Neuheisel

The embattled UCLA head coach came into the Rose Bowl Saturday afternoon needing a huge upset win over Arizona State and got one, knocking off the Sun Devils thanks to a missed field goal as time expired and putting the Bruins in the enviable position to control their own destiny. Win out and it's a spot in the Pac-12 title game and the best bowl trip in years. He probably isn't fully off the hot seat but the team has momentum heading into their final three games, two winnable ones at Utah and against Colorado before the annual crosstown rivalry game against USC.

WINNER: Matt Barkley

USC's had Heisman winners and some of the winningest quarterbacks in NCAA history wear the cardinal and gold but nobody has ever thrown six touchdowns in a game, as Barkley did against Colorado on Friday. Yes, the Buffs defense isn't that good but the blond-haired California kid was still sharp and had to deal with several drops from his receivers. At a historic program like USC, having your name in the record book is quite an accomplishment and given that, it's understandable why the contingent of Trojan fans that made their way to chilly Boulder kept chanting 'One more year!' as Barkley left the field Friday. If he does come back, he could have a team that is looking at making a run at a title and himself at with a Heisman campaign.

LOSER: Stanford training staff

All David Shaw wanted going into Stanford's game against Oregon State was an easy win and a chance to come home healthy. The easy win part seemed to happen but the latter didn't. Already missing Zach Ertz from the USC game, Andrew Luck lost another of his trio of big tight ends after Levine Toilolo went down and had to be taken to the locker room. He came back to the field later without pads and was nursing his shoulder/neck area. The Cardinal's top wide receiver Chris Owusu looks like he could be done for the year after taking a nasty hit that left him with a concussion and a ride in an ambulance. Safety Delano Howell could be back for next week's showdown but nothing is certain.

LOSER: Arizona's defense and special teams

The problem in the desert hasn't been offense, it's been the defense. Utah, a team that had been struggling to move the ball, didn't seem to meet much resistance against the Wildcats. Starting quarterback Jon Hays threw for 199 yards and a pair of touchdowns while showing progress and running back John White topped the century mark on the ground once again. Special teams wasn't any help for Arizona either with two blocked punt and a terrible fake field goal.

WINNER: Cal's vacation plans

The Bears took another step toward bowl eligibility with a 30-7 home (well, at AT&T Park) win over Washington State that put them at 5-4 on the season with another winnable game against Oregon State coming up. There's still the possibility, perhaps even a likely one, that they'll stay home for the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl but the chances of postseason play certainly improved after taking care of business.

LOSER: Paul Wulff

Perhaps it was an omen that a small earthquake shook the Bay Area right before Saturday's game. After a promising start to the season and signs of life in the Palouse, Washington State has slid back to the bottom with five straight losses and put Wulff on a very, very hot seat. The offense only scored a late touchdown and the team allowed 30 points for the fifth time this season, not exactly hallmarks of a turnaround. The schedule doesn't exactly lighten up either and if the losing streak stretches to seven, Wulff will be out looking for a new job.

WINNER: LaMichael James' elbow pad

Oregon came out in white and "carbon" uniforms against Washington and it was James who had a bulky elbow pad on his right arm that seemed to stick out despite the tame (by Ducks' standards) look. No matter how big or ugly it looked though, the pad seemed to do the trick in James' second week back in action after dislocating the elbow. It wasn't a huge performance by his standards but James rushed for 156 yards and a touchdown.

LOSER: Arizona State visors

Dennis Erickson always seems to lose a game on the road with the Sun Devils that he's favored to win by more than a touchdown. Despite this being ASU's year with the team in position to win the division, Erickson and the coaching staff saw it all slip away at the Rose Bowl against UCLA. There were plenty of bad plays and questionable officiating calls that had to leave a few of the staff's hats slammed to the ground at the end of a frustrating Saturday night.

Posted on: October 30, 2011 8:27 pm
Edited on: October 30, 2011 8:28 pm
 

Pac-12 Winners and Losers: Week 9



Posted by Bryan Fischer


A handy recap of who really won and who really lost that you won't find in the box score.

WINNER: Andrew Luck's Heisman hopes

In case you've been living under a rock or on another planet, you know the Stanford signal-caller is the best quarterback in the country. After beating the last 10 opponents by at least 25 points, the Cardinal finally faced a stiff test from USC this week and it was Luck that helped lead them out of trouble and to another win to keep the record unblemished. True, he wasn't perfect, throwing an interception late in the 4th quarter that was returned for a touchdown. Luck responded though, leading a calm, efficient drive to tie the game before being flawless in three overtime periods - tossing a touchdown, the winning two-point conversion and picking up several yards using his legs. With two offensive linemen and one of his top targets in tight end Zach Ertz out due to injury, more of the load was on Luck's shoulders and he came through to deliver a big Heisman moment in front of a national television audience.

LOSER: Oregon's quarterback controversy

Starting quarterback Darron Thomas returned against Washington State after dealing with a knee injury and tossed two interceptions that kept the Cougars within five points at halftime. Chip Kelly swapped him out for backup Bryan Bennett, who led the offense to three touchdowns and a 43-28 win at home. Afterward Kelly said Bennett gave the Ducks the best chance to win but assistants downplayed any brewing quarterback controversy. The offense has not been as sharp as they were a year ago but that doesn't mean Thomas is not going to be the starter going forward, all he did was lead Oregon to the national title game in his first full year as a starter. The leash might be a little shorter with Bennett doing well but there's only a real quarterback controversy on message boards (or if they lose).

WINNER: De'Anthony Thomas

The sensational freshman from Los Angeles has continued to fit right into the fast-paced Oregon offense. He finished the game against Washington State with a pair of highlights on a 45-yard touchdown catch and a 93-yard kickoff return. Thomas now has 11 touchdowns this season, a school-record for a true freshman. What is surprising is how well he's held up over the season given his size but week-in and week-out he goes and makes plays. He finished with 262 all-purpose yards against the Cougars and should continue to be a focal part of the offense.

LOSER: Zach Maynard

California's starting quarterback, Maynard's third leading receiver this week was Tevin McDonald. The problem was McDonald plays safety for UCLA and ended up picking Maynard off three times on Saturday. The offense couldn't get much going against a Bruins defense that has struggled most of the year, with Maynard going 14-of-30 for 199 yards (he also threw another interception to Aaron Hester). It's somewhat puzzling how Jeff Tedford has never been able to get consistent quarterback play since Aaron Rodgers left but it appears he's sticking with Maynard through thick and thin this season. The Bears have lost four of five but have two winnable home games against Washington State and Oregon State to get bowl eligible. If they are going to win, they're going to need a lot more out of Maynard than what he showed at the Rose Bowl against UCLA.

WINNER: Barking for Sark

There was a time where Washington was one of the worst programs in FBS, much less the then Pac-10. Steve Sarkisian has done a wonderful job turning around the program and for the second year in a row has the Huskies bowl eligble and sitting comfortably in third place in the Pac-12 North. Having to replace Jake Locker is no easy task but the offense has actually improved behind Keith Price's arm and Chris Polk's running. The defense remains a work in progress but it is good enough to step up when needed. From top to bottom though, this is a completely different program under Sarkisian and has the entire city of Seattle 'Barking for Sark.'

LOSER: Colorado

Six straight losses and they really haven't been close to being competitive. Jon Embree was given a tough rebuilding job at his alma mater but this is starting to get embarrassing for the once proud program. The defense has given up at least 45 points the last four games and has held just one team under 31 all year. The offense has dealt with injures but has failed to move the ball much at all. The Buffs still haven't won a Pac-12 game and have only a slim chance to win any of their remaining games. Embree could get there and make the program more competitive but it didn't look like it this week.

WINNER: Utah

It took longer - a lot longer - than those around the program had hoped but the Utes finally have a Pac-12 victory to their name with 27-8 home win over Oregon State. Utah's defense was the strength of the team and forced four turnovers against an underrated Beavers offense that was looking for a second straight road win. Running back John White continued to be a problem for defenses on the ground, rushing for a career-high 205 yards to keep the heat off of starter Jon Hays. The schedule does lighten up during the back half for Utah and getting their first Pac-12 win should provide some momentum going forward.

WINNER: USC


There is no phrase losing coaches hate more than "moral victories" but after almost beating Stanford in one of the most thrilling games of the year, it's safe to give USC a moral victory. The Trojans fought hard and were it not for a fumble near the goal line in the third overtime, were close to pulling the upset. Certainly it's no accomplishment allowing 56 points but when you consider how good Andrew Luck is and the limited depth USC has, Monte Kiffin's crew did enough to put the team in a position to win. Between the Notre Dame win and the game against Stanford, Lane Kiffin has solidified this team as a top 25 team and one that could give Oregon some trouble down the road. As much as anything, seeing the Coliseum full and loud was a welcome sight to coaches and players. “If you’re going to play a team that has the longest winning streak in the country and has beaten everybody by over 25 points and you go down to a game that could have gone either way,” Kiffin said. “You have to be pleased with where your team is at.” The last time USC played a triple overtime game they used it as a launching point for one of the best runs in college football history. Not saying this game can do the same but it could be the impetus for good things in the land of Troy.

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Posted on: October 16, 2011 3:19 am
 

Pac-12 Winners and Losers: Week 7



Posted by Bryan Fischer


A handy recap of who really won and who really lost that you won't find in the box score.

WINNER: Oregon's ground game

When you look at the great programs in college football, whenever they had a string of great seasons, everybody would often say they just kept reloading year after year. In Chip Kelly's offense, it's safe to say that is just what the Ducks are doing right now. Nation's leading rusher out with an injury? That would be crippling to other schools but not for Oregon, who just gave Kenjon Barner the football and all he did was rush for 171 yards and a touchdown against one of the conference's best defenses. Freshman De'Anthony Thomas ran for 73 yards and two scores to give the Ducks their 15th straight win over a Pac-12 team.

LOSER: The Arizona State defense

The vaunted Sun Devils defense, despite losing several starters to injury, came into their primetime game against Oregon ranked second in the conference in several defensive categories and were 11th in the country in turnover margin. Of course, those stats were built up against opponents that don't run an offense anything close to what the Ducks run. They gashed ASU for 530 total yards, including 318 on the ground. ASU never seemed to create a stop in the second half and penalties (16 for 190 yards total) kept giving the Ducks extra chances. The schedule eases up going forward and they should be fine, but Dennis Erickson has to fix a few things if they end up running into Oregon in the Pac-12 championship game down the road.

WINNER: Keith Price

Jake Locker who? The Huskies' signal-caller continued to impress with his grasp of the offense, throwing touchdown passes to four different receivers while routing Colorado 52-24. With Price making plays with his arm, Washington has now scored 30 or more points in their first six games - a new school record. He was fifth in the country in points responsible for and should move up on that list, just like he is on the single-season touchdowns thrown list at UW (he's fourth). Price could have padded his stats too had Steve Sarkisian not taken him out of the game before the end of the 3rd quarter. Many expected Washington to take a step back with Price under center but it looks like nothing could be further from the truth.

LOSER: Oregon State's rushing attack

While their in-state rival is running wild, the Beavers can't get anything going on the ground. Quarterback Sean Mannion had to pass the ball 43 times, rarity under Mike Riley before this season, in order to move the ball at all against BYU and was picked twice to give him nine on the year. Freshman tailback Malcolm Agnew returned to the lineup - he rushed for 223 yards in the opener - but that didn't matter at all as Oregon State managed just 59 yards total. Surpisingly, all-purpose threat James Rodgers had only one attempt and wasn't much of a factor at all. A road trip to Washington State for a revenge game might be the only chance the Beavers have at getting another win this year.

WINNER: John White

Another big performer on the ground in the Pac-12? I am sensing a theme among the winners. After taking a tough home loss to Arizona State, Utah went on the road for one of the rare mid-season non-conference games at Pitt. White rushed for 171 yards on 35 carries, one of the key reasons why the Utes held onto the ball for nearly 38 minutes against the Panthers defense that became worn out by the end of the game. Feeding White the ball was partly out of necessity, as the team was without leading receiver DeVonte Christopher and quarterback Jordan Wynn. Jon Hays was making only his second start ever at quarterback and first on the road as well. Considering the offensive line gave up seven sacks, it's clear they wanted to run block for White much more on a chilly day in Pittsburgh.

LOSER: Washington State's moral victories

Last week at UCLA, the Cougars gave up a late lead and saw a victory snatched from their grasp. This week against the conference's top team, Stanford, they were within three at halftime and were creating turnovers and playing Andrew Luck and company very tough. To cap it all off, the Cardinal returned a kick return for a touchdown on the final play of the game to make the score look even worse and push the Cougars' attitude even further down in the dumps. There was a thought that quarterback Jeff Tuel's return would provide a boost but he was mediocre most of the game and never could get the offense going against the stiff Stanford defense. Saturday was the second straight game where Washington State couldn't finish despite being in the game. Even though they were overmatched this week against a superior foe, the way the wheels came off late means there was no moral victory from hanging around early.

Posted on: October 10, 2011 11:44 pm
Edited on: October 10, 2011 11:45 pm
 

Utah QB Wynn to have surgery, out for the year

Posted by Bryan Fischer

Utah quarterback Jordan Wynn will have surgery on his left shoulder and will miss the remainder of the season, the school announced Monday night. He suffered the injury in the first half of Utah’s loss to Washington.

“Obviously, this is disappointing news for Jordan and the entire team,” said head coach Kyle Whittingham. “Jordan worked incredibly hard to come back from his shoulder surgery last winter and we are confident he will take the same approach with his rehab this time around. The good news is that he is eligible for a redshirt season."

This is the second season-ending shoulder surgery for Wynn, a three year starter for the Utes. He injured his right shoulder last year and missed the bowl game against Boise State.

The junior has passed for 727 yards and six touchdowns this season with two interceptions this season.

Junior Jon Hays will take over as signal-caller, taking over for Wynn against Washington and making his first start against Arizona State - a game in which he threw three interceptions. He joined the program over the summer after Nebraska-Omaha dropped its football program. Utah has lost six of their last 10 games and will play at Pittsburgh on Saturday.

Posted on: October 8, 2011 7:06 pm
 

QUICK HITS: Arizona State 35, Utah 14

Posted by Bryan Fischer

ARIZONA STATE WON: If the Sun Devils (5-1, 3-0 Pac-12) wanted everybody to take them seriously, they had to win on the road before a big game against Oregon next week and they accomplished that and more on a chilly afternoon at Rice Eccles Stadium. As usual, the defense was a big factor in the win and made life miserable for the Utes' offense and quarterback Jon Hays, who was making his first career start. ASU's first trip to Utah (2-3, 0-3 Pac-12) in 34 years - this time as conference foes - ended just as they wanted it to: walking off the field victorious.

WHY ARIZONA STATE WON: It's normally not like a Dennis Erickson team to execute in all three phases of the game - offense, defense and special teams - but they did after halftime despite 16 penalties for 134 yards. Brock Osweiler was 26 of 41 for 325 yards, 3 touchdowns and no interceptions. The defense forced five turnovers, two fumbles and three interceptions, and held Utah to just 318 yards. Special teams also helped out, grabbing one of those fumbles on a kick return and  Alex Garoutte hit two field goals.

WHEN ARIZONA STATE WON: After it looked like Utah had some momentum in the second half, ASU snatched it right back. Following a drive that ended up with a field goal, the Utes fumbled the ball on a kick return and Osweiler turned that into a touchdown pass and a two point conversion to make it 21-14 in the third. On the very next drive, Hays was intercepted by Clint Floyd and Arizona State once again turned that into a touchdown. Three straight series for Utah ended in a turnover at that point.

WHAT ARIZONA STATE WON: As the only Pac-12 South team without a conference loss, the Sun Devils have pretty much won the division already. They've already beaten USC, who's ineligible anyway, and a very weak schedule ahead of them after a trip to Eugene in what could be a Pac-12 Championship Game preview. 

WHAT UTAH LOST: Kyle Whittingham talked optimistically about his team's chances in their first year in the Pac-12 but they still have yet to get over the hump and actually win a game in their new conference. It's not like they're getting blown out because they have been in every game this season, it's just that they are not closing out in the second half at all. They'll need to refocus this week before hitting the road for two games at Pitt and at Cal.

THAT WAS CRAZY: After Utah took a 14-10 lead, Arizona State scored 18 unanswered points to move to 5-1 on the year.

 
 
 
 
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