Devin Kaufusi: Utah Taking One Game At A Time Approach, Focused On Title Game
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The University of Utah is one victory away from not only its first-ever Pac-12 football title but also its first appearance in the Rose Bowl. However, do not tell that to head coach Kyle Whittingham.
All that he is focused on this week is playing and beating Oregon to win the Pac-12 title. Even though the win will equal a berth to the Grandaddy of them all, Whittingham is laser-focused and preaching to his players that the next goal is a Pac-12 championship.
Whittingham has been preaching all year that it is just the next game up and that is the most important one and that is the case for Utah as it faces Oregon in the conference championship game, but by virtue of winning the Pac-12, the Utes are going to the Rose Bowl. Coaches are weird in that they want to focus on the immediate short-term goal at hand and for the Utes that is winning the Pac-12.
Utah defensive lineman Devin Kaufusi relayed that message he has been hearing all week from his coaches during his weekly appearance on Unrivaled that the next goal is to win the Pac-12 with little to no talk about the Rose Bowl.
“When it comes to the Rose Bowl each week before you get on the bus and head over to the stadium in the hotel, Coach Whitt throws up on the projector. It’s Pac-12 championship. So that’s the only goal. There has not been any talks of a Rose Bowl from the coaches. I mean, we understand that’s the outcome, but the task at hand is Pac-12 Championship, Pac-12 Championship. It’s been the goal. It’s been said, it’s been talked about. It’s been trained for. And that’s what we play for.”
For Utah football this week, the only talk has been about the Pac-12 championship. pic.twitter.com/WpwBCrKr58
— Unrivaled w/Alex Kirry & Scott Mitchell (@KSLunrivaled) December 2, 2021
Utah Is Used To Being In Pac-12 Title Game
This is going to be the Utes’ third Pac-12 South title game in four years so a lot of players and especially Whittingham plus his assistants have been here before and know what is at stake. The prior two were against Washington in 2018 which was a very ugly 10-3 game with no offensive touchdowns and then the 2019 opponent was Oregon which the Utes lost 37-15 and a shot at the College Football Playoff.
This staff and some of the players know how big a stage this game is and Kaufusi is grateful to have this experienced roster and staff to relay to them what playing in a Pac-12 championship game means.
“I think it means a lot. It’s a big stage. It’s for being the undisputed champion of the conference,” Kaufusi added. “We actually had the players that played in those past, ones that been here and stand up tp talk about it and what’s kind of different going into this one that we need to have happen. It’s been really cool for me, coming from a school that’s independent and coming to this conference and each game adds up moving up the standings and now heading to Las Vegas.”
Playing this team twice is a new wrinkle for every player and coach and especially with the game being only 13 days apart. It is easy for the Ute side to just roll out the same game plan since it worked so well, but the Ducks are going to make adjustments of their own since they were blown out, 38-7.
“Coming back as a competitor, they’re going to come out hard and having that desire to really get back into makeup for it,” Kaufusi said. “That’s what we talked about. The competitors on that team are going to make it known that they’re back with a vengeance.”
Historically, a rematch in the Pac-12 title game favors the team that won round one, which is good news for Utah but do not expect them to just use a carbon copy gameplan vs. Oregon. There will be adjustments made from both teams and the Utes will need to react to the differences Oregon brings to the table this Friday night in Las Vegas.
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