How Utah Football Is Balancing Fun, Focus During Rose Bowl Week

Dec 29, 2021, 4:37 PM
Mika Tafua and Devin Lloyd - Rose Bowl Practice...
(Photo courtesy of the Rose Bowl)
(Photo courtesy of the Rose Bowl)

LOS ANGELES – The Utah football team will have gone nearly one month between games when they face Ohio State in the Rose Bowl on Saturday afternoon.

Utah beat Oregon on December 3 in the Pac-12 Championship, found out that they will be playing Ohio State on December 5 and will battle in Pasadena on January 1, 2022.

While in Salt Lake City, the Utes held practices for three weeks and had a team activity at Dave and Buster’s last week before the Christmas holiday and flying to California.

Utah’s defensive players Devin Lloyd, Mika Tafua, Clark Phillips III, Nephi Sewell, Junior Tafuna and DC Morgan Scalley met with the media in Los Angeles on Wednesday morning.

Utah’s Leadership Playing Critical Part In Balancing Fun, Focus

With a young football team preparing for the “Granddaddy of them all,” it’s come down to leadership that has found the balance.

When the team arrived on Sunday, December 26, they had events scheduled almost every day leading up to the game. Festivities started on Monday when the team went to Disneyland. Then they had another activity on Tuesday that was not available to the media.

“Basically when it’s time to work, it’s time to work,” Tafua said. “When it’s time to play, it’s time to play. So just knowing the difference between the two plays a big part, especially like — when it comes down to having leaders on the team, I’m not just talking about Devin (Lloyd) and myself, but
all around on the defense you find leaders, making sure that everyone knows the difference. When we step on the field, it’s definitely time to work. And when we’re in Disneyland, just relax a little bit.”

The Lawry’s Beef Bowl scheduled for Wednesday was canceled as was the Rose Bowl Media Day on Thursday.

I think that’s one of the main things we told everyone before going on break, when it’s time to work, come to work and when it’s time to have fun, you can have fun,” Sewell stated. “We just got to really hone into what we’re trying to accomplish here. Because at the end of the day, we’re trying to win a football game. that’s the main part of the trip. We’re doing all these fun things, but at the end of the day, all you’re going to remember is the game.”

Lloyd wants everyone to enjoy themselves when the opportunity arises.

“That’s on us to reiterate and emphasize that we are here to win a game,” said Lloyd. “We want to make sure everyone is having as much fun as possible because this is an opportunity that not a lot of people get. But this is ultimately a business trip against a very tough opponent.”

Utah and Ohio State will square off on Saturday, January 1, 2022 at 3 p.m. MT on ESPN.

Trevor Allen is a Utah Utes Insider for KSLSports.com, Co-Host of Faith, Family and Football podcast with Clark Phillips III and host of the Crimson Corner podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @TrevorASports.

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