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Whittingham, Utes Transition From Hunter To Hunted

Utah Utes head coach Kyle Whittingham and Brigham Young Cougars head coach Kalani Sitake talk after a game at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016. Utah won, 20-19. (Spenser Heaps, Deseret News)

Salt Lake City, Utah – Utah head football coach Kyle Whittingham is used to being the hunter but this season he is going to be hunted by every team on their schedule.

On the Rivals podcast former Utah quarterback Scott Mitchell expressed concern about the new found status of the Utah Football team. Will Whittingham try to regain underdog status?

The Utes have been picked to go to the Rose Bowl by respected college football analyst, Brett McMurphy. Athlon sports ranked Utah the 16th best team in the nation. These are a few of the predictions that pin the Utes at the top of the Pac-12. 

McMurphy wrote this about the 2019 Utes:

“Utah? Yes, Utah. Someone has to win the Pac-12, right? I’m going with the Utes, who suffered a ton of injuries last season to quarterback Tyler Huntley, running back Zack Moss and wide receiver Britain Covey, but still managed to win the Pac-12 South.”

“That’s a good early read as far as early reads go,” said Mitchell’s co-host Jason Buck, a former BYU defensive end.

Underdog or Top dog?

Buck and Mitchell agree that Utah has officially arrived as a powerful team in the Pac-12, after spending a few seasons as a mediocre Pac-12 team. This season, Mitchell pointed out that the team is as “talented as they’ve ever been,” returned most of their starters and have strong depth at every position.

Whittingham has been known to motivate himself and his team by being the underdog and coaching with a “chip on your shoulder” mentality to foster motivation.


“Whittingham can’t hide anymore,” said Mitchell of Whittingham’s typical way of coaching and motivating from “underdog status.” He pointed out that teams are going to take Utah seriously. They will, without a doubt, show up ready to play tough, physical games

First Game At BYU

The Utes first game of the season is against their longtime rival, Brigham Young University in Provo at Lavell Edwards Stadium.

Mitchell and Buck agree that the timing of this game heavily favors the Cougars.

“Kyle is a slow starter,” said Buck. “They are known to lose their first or first few games.”

During the episode, Mitchell shares a bold prediction about how Whittingham will attempt to regain underdog status for the Utes.

“He’s going to lose the game on purpose, be it consciously or unconsciously,” predicted Mitchell. “He needs to be the underdog and this will send all the expectations out the window.”

Buck responded “there is no way that will happen. Whittingham wants that game. He wants to win every game.”

“But he wants a Pac-12 championship more,” retorted Mitchell.

Mitchell predicts after that loss the Utes will run the table or only lose one other conference game. First, Whittingham needs to find a chip for the team’s collective shoulder.

Listen to the full episode below.

Subscribe to Rivals Podcast wherever you get podcasts or on the KSL Sports app.

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