UTAH UTES

How Utah Football Players, Coaches Have Handled Last Two Weeks With Game Cancellations

Nov 17, 2020, 10:01 AM | Updated: 3:35 pm
Utah players take the field to warm up as they prepare to play UCLA in a college football game in S...
Utah players take the field to warm up as they prepare to play UCLA in a college football game in Salt Lake City at Rice-Eccles Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)
(Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Utah football has not played a game in 2020 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Over the last two weeks the program has been hit hard by COVID-19 cases and players, coaches and staff members needing to isolate due to contact tracing.

Leading up to the season opener against Arizona on Nov. 7, the team continued to prepare to showcase their talent and begin their Pac-12 South Division Title defense. On Friday, Nov. 6, the game against the Wildcats was canceled.

After taking the weekend off, the team hit the practice field to prepare for the UCLA Bruins, a game that was pushed from Friday, Nov. 13 to Saturday, Nov. 14. Once again on Friday, the game was canceled.

The emotions running through the players and coaches as they continue to prepare for each opponent, just to have it canceled the day before the game. Head coach Kyle Whittingham met with the media on Monday and discussed what the team has gone through over the last two weeks.

“Well, it’s been tough, and particularly for the players and the coaches, you know, are probably a little more emotionally able to handle that,” Whittingham said. “But players, they’re competitive, they’re looking forward to competing, and to have the rug pulled out from under them at the last minute, two weekends in a row is difficult. But like I said, they’ve been very resilient and showing a great deal of resolve when they come back. So we’re in a good place right now, mentally, we still don’t know a lot about our football team because we haven’t had a chance to play yet. As far as their work ethic, their focus. their attention to detail, it’s all been very good.”

Devastating

That’s the word that Utah captain and star linebacker Devin Lloyd used to describe the past two weeks.

“Devastating,” Lloyd declared. “It’s really just the worst thing that could happen for you as a football player, especially now more than ever. We already knew our games were limited and then for it just to happen the way it did, you know, the day before, I mean, everybody’s mentality is, ‘oh, we’re good, we’re going,’ and it’s just taken away from us. The game we love is taken away from us. I mean, it’s definitely devastating. But at the same time, you got to take it with a grain of salt. You gotta look at the bright side, which is that we’ve gotten tremendously better in the two weeks that we had been practicing. We’ve gotten our mental side of just preparing for teams the right way, we’ve done that right, two weeks in a row. So now we really feel comfortable with that. Just, overall, you got to just look at the bright side and understand that our time will come when we do play. We just prepare the right way and ready to make it happen.”

Stay Motivated

Junior wide receiver Solomon Enis didn’t seem too bothered by the cancellations but noticed that he and his teams continue to stay motivated.

“The past few weeks has been a lot of hard work,” said Enis. “Just consistent hard work really. Can’t really do much about it. You just got to get ready for whatever game you play next. Emotionally, gotta stay motivated, show the guys that whatever comes our way we can face it. I think we’re doing a very good job right now. Just gotta keep working hard every week and just whatever happens happens.”

Enis is expected to have a breakout season in 2020 for the Utes.

Really Challenging

Junior running back Devin Brumfield is expected to be one of four running backs that will replace Zack Moss. Although Brumfield has been ready to play, it’s been challenging to have the last two games canceled.

“It’s really challenging, getting all worked up and get to the day before the game and lose that that. Guys can’t go out there and fight, to do what we work so hard for,” Brumfield said. “It’s been a long few months you know, we’re really prepared and whoever we get to line up against we’ll be ready.”

Brumfield is one of four running backs that will get a share of the workload in the backfield, along with sophomore Jordan Wilmore, freshman Ty Jordan and redshirt freshman Micah Bernard.

Going To Push Forward

From a coaches perspective, running backs coach Kiel McDonald said this was to be expected and that the team will continue to push forward.

“During this time, I mean, it’s to be expected, during the time of COVID is just one of those deals where you know that you’re going to go through adversity,” McDonald mentioned. “So you just don’t know how it’s going to come at you, when it’s going to come at you. So for the last two weeks, it’s just come at us, kind of at the witching hour. Last week, we were getting ready to go on a flight in about two hours, and we had to shut it down. So up here, we get chance to work. We’re workers. So it’s been nothing but good, we get a chance to continue to hone our skills and work on our craft. So I know we’ll be ready to go this coming week. But it’s been no setbacks, we’re just gonna push forward.”

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 Players, Coaches Have Handled Last Two Weeks With Game Cancellations