Kaufusi: Utah’s Defensive Motto Is Relentless, Smart, Nasty, Ballhawks

Sep 22, 2022, 10:20 AM

Devin Kaufusi Utah Football...

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - OCTOBER 16: Devin Kaufusi #90 of the Utah Utes reacts as he leaves the field after upsetting the Arizona State Sun Devils October 16, 2021 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’s defense had a huge game this past weekend by shutting down San Diego State 35-7 to improve to 2-1 on the year.

The Utah defense got beat up on the ground in the 2021 version of this game but in 2022 they held the Aztecs to 173 total yards which ends up being just 3.14 yards per play. The Ute defense smothered San Diego State and went back to being that patented Utah defense.

Defensive lineman Devin Kaufusi joins Unrivaled every week, this week he talked about the defense has turned itself around.

“We all took a step forward and building upon this week which is what wanted to do. Defensively we got our technique tightened up and we are trying to build momentum going into conference play as the season goes on,” Kaufusi said. “Our defensive unit room coach [Morgan] Scalley has the letters ‘RSNB’ and any Utah player that comes through this building will see those everywhere and it stands for Relentless, Smart, Nasty, Ballhawks,’ and that’s our culture.”

The defense got back to being nasty, they forced San Diego State to go through three quarterbacks in the game due to a combination of inefficiency and a minor injury. That injury was to starter Braxton Burmeister who left the game in the first quarter after getting poked in the eye.

Last year, the leader on the Ute defense was Devin Loyd but he is now making a name for himself in the NFL with the Jacksonville Jaguars. That left a void for this defensive unit. There are a lot of players back from the Rose Bowl season but there is no one player that is taking on that singular leader, but rather it is more of a group effort.
“Having Devin back there he was really the standout,” Kaufusi said. “I can’t think of one person. We have Junior [Tafuna] building off the great freshman year, … we have Mr. Clark Phillips, R.J. Hubert, and Cole Bishop.
“I can’t think of one name but all of us are taking it on that we want to be that nasty defense that Utah has and it takes all of us.”

What To Expect From Arizona State

Up next is Arizona State. The Sun Devils seem more of a rival in the conference than the forced Colorado game. This matchup will be a lot different as Arizona State just let go of head coach Herm Edwards, and the interim coach is Shaun Aguano.

When teams lose the head coach they respond in one of two ways: they get really mad and have a huge game the week after, or they play poorly with a big change in the middle of the season.

Going into this type of game will be easy for the Utes because they have a goal in mind to defend their conference championship and do not care about what Arizona State is going through.

“As tough as that is in their position. Football is unforgiving and people don’t care if you’re hurt,” Kaufusi said. “They choose not to care and the only thing that matters in football is winning.

“Coming into Utah all I heard about the bad blood between ASU and Utah. We are on the road and looking to go down there and make a statement with the momentum of this preseason. It’s a tough situation [for them]. Being a coach’s son growing up and seeing coaches go through stuff… it is a crazy lifestyle. All I know is Saturday comes around in Tempe and we will be ready.”

The goal is to beat ASU and march toward another title but Kaufusi expects nothing less than the best performance from the Sun Devils who have more talent than the Aztecs.

“Arizona State has some good transfers and should be quicker than San Diego State,” Kaufusi said. 

Utah just needs to be ready for a team that has its back against the wall after losing to Eastern Michigan and playing under an interim coach.

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Kaufusi: Utah’s Defensive Motto Is Relentless, Smart, Nasty, Ballhawks