SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – Somehow, someway, the Utes football team has to turn its attention back to the field.
Ten days after the shooting death of defensive back Aaron Lowe, the Utes were back on the practice field, trying to focus on the task at hand — beating USC this Saturday.
As therapeutic as football can be, it’s still difficult for the Utes, who have been confronted by the loss of a teammate for the second time in less than a year.
“It almost makes you not want to talk football for a little bit,” said wide receiver Britain Covey. “You know you have to because you’ve got to get through it, you’ve got to move on, and that’s what he would want. It’s important to be together as much as possible, carry on, do practice and everything like that.”
“That’s what we have to do, and I think that’s what Aaron would want, especially in this situation,” said quarterback Cam Rising. “Because he’s always loved the University of Utah and football here. He loves his team, and we’re just really playing for him now.”
As emotionally drained as they are, it would be completely understandable if the Utes came out flat against the Trojans. But once they put on the pads, they’re hoping the pain and grief goes away for just a few hours.
“When you get in a football game, you go into game mode,” said head coach Kyle Whittingham. “You go into a different state of mind. So, when a football player is in game mode, he blocks everything else out and just focuses on what’s going on.”
With a chance to win the Coliseum for the first time in 105 years, Utah wants to stay unbeaten in Pac-12 play and in contention for the Pac-12 South title, and make some history in the process.
“We have a lot of things that we need to play for,” Rising said. “For Aaron, and we’ve got history on the line that we can accomplish here as a team. We’ve got to do everything right this week to make sure we can do that.”
“It would be amazing,” added offensive lineman Nick Ford. “It’s been over a 100 years since we won in the Coliseum. It would be a history breaking thing. It would be awesome. The only way to get a nasty taste out of your mouth is to put something sweet in it, and that’s what we intend on doing.”
“To look at what we’re doing now and realize you’re 1-0 in Pac-12 play,” Covey said. “You almost think, really? This year? We’re in that position after all that’s happened and how crazy it’s been? There is still something beautiful and awesome that could come out of this season, and a win would really spark that.”
Utah and USC will kick off at 6:00 p.m. Saturday night in Los Angeles.