Red-hot Utah not looking too far ahead, just at its upcoming matchup with Arizona
What’s next for Utah is Arizona, which snapped its 20-game losing streak — the nation’s longest — with a 10-3 victory over Cal over the weekend
Having won five of its last six games, Utah is sitting firmly in first place in the Pac-12 South.
Coming off an impressive 52-7 thumping of Stanford last Friday night, the Utes are trying to finish the month of November strong.
“Pedal to the metal. It has to stay down. We have a job to do and a goal we want to accomplish,” said quarterback Cam Rising. “We still have to keep going, come in, and show up like this game never happened pretty much on Monday and take it from there.”
“Helps us obviously in the position we’re in in the conference, but we got a lot more work to do,” coach Kyle Whittingham said after the win over Stanford. “There are games left, plenty of games left, and so we don’t focus on that, but it’s something certainly we’re aware of. We’ll give players a weekend off, Saturday, Sunday off, bring them in Monday morning at 7 a.m. and get going on the next guys.”
What’s next for Utah is Arizona, which snapped its 20-game losing streak — the nation’s longest — with a 10-3 victory over Cal over the weekend.
The Utes travel to Tucson to take on the Wildcats Saturday (Noon MST, Pac-12 Network).
Arizona defeated a Cal team that was without more than two dozen players who tested positive for COVID-19, including starting quarterback Chase Garbers.
For the Wildcats, it marked their first win since beating Colorado 35-30 on Oct. 5, 2019.
“Obviously, this has been hard,” Arizona first-year coach Jedd Fisch said. “It’s a monkey on the back. You can’t avoid it, even if you want to.”
The Wildcats have had their own issues when it comes to availability. Its top two quarterbacks, Jordan McCloud and Gunner Cruz, have suffered season-ending injuries. Arizona used three quarterbacks against Cal. Arizona rushed 52 times for 202 yards.
While Utah has the inside track on earning a spot in the Pac-12 championship game in Las Vegas on Dec. 3, it’s focused on taking care of business.
“We’re going to finish this thing, we’re going to need everybody,” said running back Tavion Thomas, who rushed for 177 yards and four touchdowns against Stanford.
At the same time, Whittingham isn’t surprised that his team is in this position despite early-season struggles.
Utes on the air
Utah (6-3, 5-1)
at Arizona (1-8, 1-5)
Saturday, Noon MST
TV: Pac-12 Network
Radio: ESPN 700
“Not necessarily because we felt like we were a good football team at that point. We just weren’t playing well. We knew we had good players. We didn’t know who we were yet, particularly on offense,” he said. “We started to figure things out when we had the quarterback change. We started to gain momentum from that point on. We figured out what we do best and who our playmakers are and who we need to get the ball to. Not that we didn’t have a good idea going in, but we started to do a better job of doing what we had to do.”
After playing at Arizona, the Utes host No. 5 Oregon and Colorado to finish off the regular-season schedule. A rematch against the Ducks in the Pac-12 championship game is a strong possibility.
Of course, Utah isn’t looking ahead that far.
“We’re really just taking everything one day at a time, too. Obviously wins like this are great for our confidence as a team, understanding how good we are,” said linebacker Devin Lloyd. “But we can’t get too high on ourselves because I’m almost certain on both sides of the ball there were mistakes made. So more so a matter of just getting back to the drawing board, correcting those mistakes, and building on top of what we’ve been doing good at.”