SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – It was one of the tougher losses of the season for the Utes football team, but last year’s triple-overtime defeat against San Diego State changed the course of the team’s future.
That was the game Cam Rising replaced Charlie Brewer at quarterback. Rising rallied the Utes in the final five minutes to force overtime, before eventually losing 33-31. But Rising took over the starting job and hasn’t looked back.
“Obviously what stands out is when Cam entered the game in the fourth quarter and provided that spark immediately,” head coach Kyle Whittingham said. “It turned out to be a change in our season.”
“Cam Rising’s coming out party,” said tight end Dalton Kincaid. “That was the biggest thing. We’ve got him starting this year, so hopefully it’s a different outcome.”
What does Rising remember about that game?
“That we lost,” is all that Rising said.
Since that game, Rising is 10-3 as a starter, and has made huge strides during the course of a year.
“Just having more knowledge of the offense and having gone through it for a whole year,” Rising said. “That experience, that’s the difference now.”
“He’s just got this leadership ability that not many people have,” Kincaid added. “He gets people to want to play for him.”
After a less than perfect performance against Florida, Rising bounced back nicely against Southern Utah, throwing for 254 yards and three touchdowns all in one half in Utah’s 73-7 win over the Thunderbirds.
“I thought he responded outstandingly,” Whittingham said. “His numbers were terrific. I don’t want to say he played poorly in the Florida game, but it wasn’t his best his best game. He was much sharper in this game.”
But San Diego State’s defense will be much tougher than Southern Utah’s.
“They rally to the ball,” Rising said. “They’ve got guys who are ball hawks. They’re physical and a well-coached team. So it’s going to be a challenge, but we’re looking forward to it.”
As for the revenge factor, the Utes have been thinking about getting another shot at the Aztecs ever since walking off the field last year in Southern California.
“Yeah, we’ve talked about it,” Rising said. “We’re not happy about it, but we’re looking forward to the opportunity to get back out there and play them again.”
Freshman running back Jaylon Glover wasn’t on the team last year, but he’s heard plenty of talk of redemption.
“We don’t like them guys,” said Glover, who scored his first two collegiate touchdowns against Southern Utah. “Especially me coming in and hearing all my teammates talking. We want a revenge tour, and we want to come out with a victory on Saturday.”
“That was a loss that was very bitter,” Whittingham said. “We need to do everything we can to prepare this year to try to have a better showing, because that was frustrating,”
Utah and San Diego State will kick off at 8:00 Saturday night at Rice-Eccles Stadium.