Utah Football Fully Embracing ‘Next Man Up’ Mentality

Sep 21, 2023, 10:26 AM

SALT LAKE CITY – Utah football has been tested early and often so far in the 2023 football season and it hasn’t phased them one bit citing their “next man up” mentality.

The Utes have had to play the likes of Florida and Baylor without key players with head coach Kyle Whittingham noting as many as 15-16 players weren’t available against Weber State. All three games were wins.

For the young guys and backups getting those valuable game reps, there has been an immense sense of pride in their ability to carry the load in the starter’s absence against quality opponents.

Next Man Up Utes

Utah running back Jaylon Glover saw his role on the team grow exponentially after an accident put Micah Bernard out of commission for the Utes the rest of the year after the Florida game.

It’s a role the sophomore from Florida is very prideful of.

“We just have a resilient crew,” Glover said. “When you talk about depth from us- it’s almost having 30-40% of our team down right now means a lot. Utah does a great job in recruiting and doing a great job keeping us ready to go. The ‘next man up’ mentality- I know y’all probably get tired of hearing it, but that is really how it is here. When you talk about coming together strong like this in the beginning of the season going 1-0 every week. As we continue to go and get everyone back, I think we’re going to be a force to be reckoned with.”

Nate Johnson, Come On Down

Redshirt freshman quarterback Nate Johnson is another guy who has been called upon to help lead the Utes until starter and captain Cam Rising is cleared from an ACL tear he sustained in January.

Johnson was a key player for the Utes last season when Rising’s running ability was slowed up at the end of the year and has watched his role grow into being named the backup after some fourth quarter heroics against Baylor.

The talented dual-threat quarterback got his first start last week against Weber State and did a nice job for Utah. There is hope/rumors swirling that Rising may be back this week to start conference play, but Johnson is determined to make sure he’s prepared either way.

“Really, it’s just ‘next man up’ mentality still with Cam being down,” Johnson said. “It’s still ‘next man up’ mentality. I don’t know if it’s me, it’s Bryson, it’s Cam- you know, again, it’s just ‘next man up’ mentality’.”

Utah’s Defense Has Been Battle Tested Too

The Utah defense has been very dominant in the first three games only allowing 31 points which averages to about 10.3 points per game, making it easy to forget they’ve been missing guys too. Specifically, across the defensive line.

Junior defensive end Jonah Elliss is a little older than some of the other Utes who have been called into action but understands the importance of having no drop-off in his deep position group. So far, Elliss is tied for the team lead in sacks with two while also posting nine tackles on the season as Utah waits for Connor O’Toole to get back into the mix.

“It means so much,” Elliss said. “You see that our second and third string guys come in and can all play and compete with the other team’s starters. The amount of depth that we have, and, just like, all of them being able to step up and cover for Junior, cover for Pep, cover for all of our guys that are down is awesome. It’s really good to see. We have a lot of depth on our team.”

Michelle Bodkin is the Utah Utes Insider for and host of both the Crimson Corner Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and The Saturday Show (Saturday from 10 a.m.–12 p.m.) on The KSL Sports Zone. Follow her on XInstagram, and Threads: @BodkinKSLsports

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Utah Football Fully Embracing ‘Next Man Up’ Mentality