How Utah Football Is Preparing To Play Games Without Fans In Stadium

Oct 26, 2020, 9:36 AM
(Photo courtesy of Utah Athletics)...
(Photo courtesy of Utah Athletics)
(Photo courtesy of Utah Athletics)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Like the rest of the country, Utah football will have to adjust to having very limited to no fans in the stands.

How are they doing that when the program is used to 45,000-plus screaming Utah fans packed inside Rice-Eccles Stadium? Just like other programs around the country, piped in crowd noise is being used in practices and scrimmages.

“Well, we’ve already begun practicing with the ambient noise,” said Whittingham. “The crowd level and the decibel level that is supposed to be at. We’ve already had that going on at both of the scrimmages. I think it’s 70 decibels for just normal times and you can raise it to 90 if something exciting happens. We practice with that, now it’s going to be different no matter how you cut it with nobody in the stands, or very few people in the stands will be a different deal. Players seem to get on autopilot and hit a groove you’re on the field and you’re playing, you don’t really notice very often the surroundings. Our stadium is awesome. We feel we have some of the best fans in the country and certainly does give your players a boost emotionally particularly on big downs and when things are going on that are exciting but players for the most part are locked in a zone and oblivious to what’s going on around them.”

When the Pac-12 announced the return of football this fall, they said no fans will be allowed to attend games. Family members of the players and coaches could be permitted to attend games if the local health authorities approve.

Preparing For Arizona

As of Monday, Utah is 12 days away from beginning their 2020 campaign at Rice-Eccles Stadium against the Arizona Wildcats on Saturday, November 7. The coaching staff has trickled in their gameplan into practices throughout camp but will be all in on preparing for the Wildcats beginning on Thursday.

“We’ve already begun that to a certain extent it’s been interspersed in practice throughout the last seven to eight practices,” Whittingham said. “We’ve broken into scout teams and so we have periods where we work on specifically Arizona offense or defense as the case may be. So that will become even more of an emphasis starting tomorrow (Tuesday) and it will become exclusive probably about Thursday or Friday this week where we just focus completely on the opponent and no longer compete against each other.”

Cornerback Position Still A Concern

On a different note from camp, Whittingham said that he is still concerned with the cornerback battle and starters haven’t been solidified yet.

“Not quite yet. We’re close. One day you think you have them and the next day things change so we don’t have that solidified,” Whittingham stated. “To me, as the head coach, that’s probably my biggest concern right now is the secondary and making sure we get that right. We come away with four corners that we really like and rotate them through there to play three spots and and that could happen. Right now still not solidified in the secondary, although we have narrowed the field down.

“But that’s going to be crucial, if you can’t hold up in the secondary things can get away from you real quick,” Whittingham added. “We’re hoping the front can compensate for some of the inexperience in the secondary but some days the front hasn’t looked as good as we’d like it to either. It’s a lot of work to be done on defense and that’s the most concerning thing for for us as coaches is the defensive side of the ball.”

Trevor Allen is a Utah Utes Insider for KSLSports.com and host of the Crimson Corner podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @TrevorASportsYou can download and listen to the podcast, here.

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How Utah Football Is Preparing To Play Games Without Fans In Stadium