Utes Have Respect For Hill, Wildcats Ahead Of Season Opener

Aug 30, 2018, 4:39 PM | Updated: Sep 6, 2018, 10:56 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – With the 2018 Utah football season kicking off on Thursday at Rice Eccles Stadium, the Utes are looking forward to facing their first opponent, Weber State.

According to head coach Kyle Whittingham, the players “are anxious to hit somebody else.” That said, the Utes and their coaching staff, in particular, have deep respect for Weber State, who are coming off of their most successful season of all-time. After all, they’re led by head coach Jay Hill, who worked as an assistant at Utah under Whittingham prior to getting the top gig in Ogden.

Whittingham praised Hill for his success at Weber State and for his coaching ability in general.

“He coached very well for us his entire time here and he was very versatile. He coached special teams, he coached offense, he coached defense and he was an outstanding recruiter,” said Whittingham. “He was very valuable to the success we had here. Then he moved and had the opportunity to be the head coach at Weber. It doesn’t surprise me at all what he has been able to do there and success he has had and will continue to have.”

Due to the head coaching connection, the Utes do see some a bit of themselves in the Wildcats, especially on defense where Whittingham sees similar philosophies and techniques.

That said, the Weber State offense, led by another former Utah assistant, Dave Schramm, looks quite different from the offense that Schramm put together for the Utes when he was there.

With that in mind, Whittingham admitted that, “anytime you are in an opener it is a lot of guesswork because you aren’t really sure what you are going to see.”

Although Weber State plays in the lower-level FCS, they are one of the top teams in the country at that classification. They’ll begin the season ranked No. 8 in FCS after winning a school-record 11 wins, the Big Sky Conference title and two FCS Playoff wins in 2017.

They began last season playing and nearly beating another Pac-12 school, Cal, before the Golden Bears escaped with a 33-20 comeback victory.

The Wildcats will enter the raucous Rice Eccles Stadium hoping to pull off the upset behind the arm of a redshirt freshman quarterback, Kaden Jenks, who was named the starter when the program released its initial depth chart Monday morning.

Prior to naming Jenks the starter, Hill told KSL TV’s Jeremiah Jensen and Rod Zundel that he wasn’t worried about the prospect of putting Jenks on the field on the road against a Pac-12 opponent.

Hill also knows a key to the game will be keeping the crowd and “Sack Lake City” in check.

“If we can go in there and get some plays early and get some confidence going, you never know,” he said.

Weber State Wildcats

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