SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – The University of Utah football team is the only team in the country, that hasn’t cancelled its season, that has not played a game this year.
But that may change this Saturday night when the Utes host USC.
After two consecutive cancellations due to positive COVID-19 tests on the team, testing has gone better this week, and head coach Kyle Whittingham is hopeful his team can finally get on the field.
“Things are trending in the right direction for us as far as getting back to health, and getting guys back on the practice field,” Whittingham said Tuesday. “So, that’s encouraging as well. Right now all our efforts are geared to getting ready for the USC Trojans, but we’re in a much better spot right now than we were the last two weeks.”
Those last two weeks were brutal for the Utes. After gearing up to play Arizona and UCLA, they had the rug pulled out from under the them the day before the games, when the Utes failed to meet the minimum amount of 53 scholarship players available.
“I mean, devastating,” said defensive captain Devin Lloyd. “It’s the worst thing that can happen to you as a football player, especially now more than ever. We already knew our games were limited. You just have to look at it from the positive side that we will hit the field eventually.”
“It’s really challenging,” added running back Devin Brumfield. “Getting all worked up and getting to the day before the game, then to hear the news that you and your guys can’t go out there and fight to do what we worked so hard for. It’s been a long few months, and we’re really prepared. Whoever we get to line up against, we’ll be ready.”
All the Utes can do is stay sharp in practice, and stay safe at home.
“That’s all you can do,” said wide receiver Solomon Enis. “You can’t really stress about what you can’t control. What you can control is your effort and what you put into practice everyday. For me, I take pride in staying home and protecting my guys because I wouldn’t want to be the person who transmits it to the rest of the team.”
“They’ve been really resilient and showing a great deal of resolve,” added Whittingham. “So, we’re in a good place right now mentally. We still don’t know a lot about our football team because we haven’t had a chance to play yet.”
“The biggest thing is emphasizing that we’ve still got a game to play,” said Lloyd. “That’s our mentality until they tell us otherwise. We still have a game to prepare for against a really good opponent in USC.”
The Utes and Trojans are scheduled to kick off Saturday night at 8:30 at Rice-Eccles Stadium.