What Are The Utes Playing For In This Pandemic Season?

Dec 3, 2020, 2:18 PM | Updated: 2:19 pm
Cam Rising - USC Trojans - Utah Utes...
Cameron Rising #7 of the Utah Utes is pressured in the pocket by Drake Jackson #99 and Marlon Tuipulotu #93 of the USC Trojans during their game November 21, 2020 at Rice Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images)
(Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – College football has been wrecked by 2020 with games being moved and canceled. The Utah football program is like many with multiple games canceled and the Ute program this year is not living up to its standards at 0-2.

This year would have been tough regardless for Utah football. They lost most of their defense, starting quarterback, starting running back and had a total of seven players drafted into the NFL. With the abbreviated season that was put together by the Pac-12 as a way to make a few bucks and get the 2021 season on track. However, the big questions are what are we really doing playing college football during a pandemic, and if we are, what is there to be gained for specific teams?

The Utes will get in some experience with young players – which is valuable – but arguably the most valuable piece is quarterback Cam Rising who didn’t even make it through the first half of the first game. This team will take its bumps and bruises but how motivated is this team, really? The Pac-12 has lost most of its bowl games and the Utes might not get that extra game and the practices that come with it.

Does Utah Really Care About This Season?

This is a valid question because 2020 has been hard on everyone for plenty of reasons and imagine being a college football player whose seasons was canceled, restarted and then games don’t get played. This has to be frustrating and not all that enjoyable.

KSL Sports Scott Mitchell who also is the radio analyst for Utah football says that these players don’t care and who can blame them, really.

“What Utah’s problem is they don’t really care. They don’t really want to play right now. They’re not taking this seriously,” Mitchell said. “Everyone can put on a good face. And I and I can hardly blame them. I really can’t, because your first two games of the season got canceled and you’re not going to get them back. They were the last team in all of college football to start a game in the whole entire country.

“You miss your first two games and then and then you lose your quarterback. The guy that really I mean, if there’s anybody that needs this season, it’s Cam Rising above any player on that entire Utah team,” he added. “Then you have no fans in the stands. You’re going to have four games, four games in a season, and maybe five, you know, if this round-robin playoff thing happens.”

When players are out of contention with not much to play for it takes a lot of effort to be able to suit up knowing besides personal pride in these games there is not much to play for down the road. The one thing Mitchell said can help these players out is to develop a mindset now to get ready to play when things are down and use it as motivation for next season to be ready to play when there is something substantial to play for.

“I think they’re better served if they say, ‘we have to develop this championship mindset now today, even in this season, that’s kind of lost,'” Mitchell said. “A lot of the players a year ago said, ‘we had a bitter taste in our mouth’ in that first year they went to the Pac-12 championship and they all wanted to come back and avenge that they thought they could go back and win.”

Using that as motivation for next year is the biggest carrot these players and coaches can use as motivation. This year is lost and it has been a taxing year but getting through this and looking long-term down the road is what the Utes should be preaching and practicing. All of these players can come back in 2020 and they will have this shared experience of toughing it out during a year when a pandemic was causing so many issues, but they can all recall how they did that together.

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What Are The Utes Playing For In This Pandemic Season?