Utes Hope To Take Care Of ‘Unfinished Business’ With Pac-12 Title
SANTA CLARA, Calif. – The motto for the Utah football team in 2019 is to finish the unfinished business. Utah has a chance to do so with a win over No. 13 Oregon in the Pac-12 Championship game.
That was the main reason why four juniors last season decided to return for their senior season rather than jump to the NFL was because they had unfinished business. Those four players included running back Zack Moss, defensive end Bradlee Anae, defensive tackle Leki Fotu and safety Julian Blackmon.
When asked about the unfinished business, Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham credits the seniors for having that mindset.
The “unfinished business” mantra is something our returning seniors adopted,” Whittingham said. “It wasn’t anything that was manufactured by the coaching staff. It is basically saying that we got there last year to the championship game and we weren’t able to get the win. We get another chance this year and the message is that we need to try and finish and win the whole thing. We are in position to do that, but like I said, we have a good opponent.”
Utah defensive end Bradlee Anae remembers the heartbreak loss to Washington last season in the Pac-12 Championship game.
“I probably won’t forget that moment,” Anae said. “But it was also a great turning point not only for myself but for the seniors. I was like ‘we are coming back, I don’t care, we were so close,’ we just want to make history.”
For Utah senior running back Zack Moss, it’s all about the finish.
“We just want to finish,” Moss stated. “We don’t make any excuses for last year. We have worked our tails off to get back here and we definitely want to make the most of it this time around.”
It was very difficult for Utah to return for their second straight Pac-12 Championship game and did so with very little margin of error. The Utes lost their first Pac-12 game back on September 20 to the USC Trojans 30-23. With that tiebreaker looming over their heads, Utah had to win their next eight games to get into the title game because USC had two conference losses.
“It was very difficult to get back here. Running the gauntlet of a nine-game Pac-12 schedule is not easy and of course, we started out from the ideal situation when we lost that first one and then had to run the table the rest of the way,” Whittingham stated. “So, it was a long, hard road but the guys persevered and continued to work and continued to stay focused. They just continue to just attack them one at a time.”
The unfinished business was towards getting past the heartbreak that they suffered against the Washington Huskies in the 2018 Pac-12 Championship, falling 10-3.
This season, it’s a different opponent with the Oregon Ducks, who lost just one conference game as well, losing in upset fashion to the Arizona State Sun Devils two weeks ago.
While the game on Friday is still big, it could have been massive with Oregon and Utah facing off with just one loss apiece. The pressure is massive though for the Utes, who are playing for possibly more than just the Rose Bowl, but the College Football Playoff.
Utah will face No. 13 Oregon on Friday in the Pac-12 Championship Game at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California. The game will kickoff at 6 p.m. and will be televised on ABC.
The Crimson Corner podcast is the one-stop for all things University of Utah Athletics hosted by Utah insider Trevor Allen. Ute fans will find interviews with current players, coaches, and staff alongside expert analysis of every game, story and angle coming out of the University of Utah.
You can download and listen to the podcast, here.