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The most challenging bye week

It was probably the most trying bye week in the history of Utah football as the Utes mourned the death of defensive back Aaron Lowe

Members of the University of Utah football coach Kyle Whittingham speaks during a candlelight vigil remembering the life of slain student-athlete Aaron Lowe on Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2021 at University of Utah in Salt Lake City.
University of Utah football coach Kyle Whittingham speaks during a candlelight vigil remembering the life of slain student-athlete Aaron Lowe on Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2021 at University of Utah in Salt Lake City. After trying week, the Utes turn their focus to Saturday’s game at USC, where they haven’t won in 105 years.
Shafkat Anowar, Deseret News

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It was probably the most trying bye week in the history of Utah football as the Utes mourned the death of defensive back Aaron Lowe.

“The tragic, devastating loss of Aaron Lowe is still weighing heavy on our hearts here in our program,” coach Kyle Whittingham said Monday morning. “We miss Aaron. It’s a senseless loss. … That’s the first thing I want to make sure we address — how much we miss him.”

During the bye, the Utes held team meetings and attended a candlelight vigil in honor of Lowe.

Whittingham and his players answered questions from reporters about Lowe’s passing for the first time Monday.

Whittingham said no other player will wear No. 22 as long as he is the head coach.

Center Nick Ford grew up in Los Angeles and has faced the loss of loved ones, including his brother. Was it hard for him to think about football after Lowe’s death?

“Yes and no. I didn’t grow up with the easiest life. I lost a lot of people in my life, both friends and family. I kind of take it with a grain of salt,” Ford said. “One of the bad parts about growing up in L.A., it’s something you’re exposed to very early.

“With my brother passing away, it’s something I’m used to at 21, going on 22 when I should be 50, going on 51. It sucked the day of. It was kind of bad the next day. Then after that, I reset. You have to have your appropriate time to mourn and then you have to have your time to lock in as well.”

On Saturday, the season continues as Utah visits USC. Lowe’s funeral will be held next Monday in Texas.

Numbers game

1916: The last time Utah won at USC. That season, the Utes beat the Trojans 27-12.

1-9: Utah’s all-time record at USC.

222: Career wins for Kyle Whittingham at Utah, if the Utes win Saturday.

From the archives

Extra points

  • Man accused of killing Aaron Lowe connected to unsolved 2020 killing, police confirm (Deseret News)
  • Have the Utes finally found their man at running back? (Deseret News)
  • Craig Smith conducts first official practice 6 months after he was hired at Utah (Deseret News)
  • Britain Covey breathing rare air for the Utes (Deseret News)
  • Could Utes’ Devin Lloyd be first-round pick? Could other players with Utah ties get drafted?(Deseret News)

Fanalyst

Comments from Deseret News readers

“The players have something to play for, that’s Aaron’s mother who spoke with the team and spent time with them. Losing a teammate is horrible, it’s very impactful and makes the entire emotional feel of the team seem off — but losing a son is far worse. Aaron wasn’t doing anything to provoke this attack, he might be viewed as protecting the girl still clinging to her life — I hope she recovers. The family suffered an impact unimaginable compared to the team — no better motivation than to play for his family and in his memory. Utah has a load of talent but they haven’t played in a way to utilize it and unify as a team. The defense seemed to wake up last game, the offense needs to find its path forward.”

— london_josh

“It brings me to tears to read that the person who is probably suffering the most, Mrs. Lowe-Sterns, took the time to comfort the players. What courage, dignity and compassion! They all seem to be taking the timeless approach to get through this —mourn with those that mourn, comfort those in need of comfort, bear each other’s burdens.”

— JohninSLC

Up next

Oct. 7 | 8 p.m. | Soccer | vs. UCLA | @Los Angeles | Pac-12 Network

Oct. 8 | 8 p.m. | Women’s volleyball | vs. USC | @Los Angeles | Pac-12 Network

Oct. 9 | 6 p.m. | Football | vs. USC | @Los Angeles | Fox

Oct. 10 | 1 p.m. | Women’s volleyball | vs. UCLA | @Los Angeles

Oct. 10 | 3 p.m. | Soccer | vs. USC | @Los Angeles | Pac-12 Network