Utah receiver Britain Covey didn’t want to sound cocky. Talk of the Utes claiming a three-peat in the Pac-12 South wasn’t first and foremost on his mind when asked about it in the conference’s division webinar Wednesday.
“I’m going to go typical athlete avoidance answer on this one and say you take it one game at a time, especially when you only have six games guaranteed,” said Covey, who noted that everyone is tuned in on the Nov. 7 season opener against Arizona right now. “But there is a little bit of pride at stake. We want to return as the Pac-12 South champs and we want to be the Pac-12 champs overall.”
Covey explained that the Utes can respond to it in two ways — being cocky about it or realizing the team has a target on its back. Leadership, he continued, is focused on the latter and what they need to do.
Utah was picked to finish third in the Pac-12’s annual preseason media poll, finishing behind USC and Arizona State. Being tabbed as favorites, though, isn’t something that Trojans safety Talanoa Hufanga is concerned about. He said all the teams in the conference are great.
“We’ve got to stay locked in on our skills and hone in on everything we can do,” Hufanga said. “And we can be just as much in that race to the No. 1 spot.”
As such, he insists on taking it one day and one game at a time. That’s his focus in an abbreviated season.
ASU quarterback Jayden Daniels doesn’t think it’ll necessarily be a three-horse race between the Sun Devils, Trojans and Utes. He said there’s a lot of physicality and talent in the division.
“I feel like the South is wide open. Anybody can win it,” said Daniels, who noted the talent at ASU and USC, as well as the physical play of Utah. He also warned against sleeping on what Arizona and Colorado can do.
Earlier in the day, Utah coach Kyle Whittingham wasn’t sure if the Utes had a target on their backs as two-time defending division champs. He noted they are picked third this time around.
“Whatever. But our goal is to try to do it again and as I’ve said many times try to win that Pac-12 championship, which we’ve been unable to do the past couple of years,” Whittingham said before predicting “the Pac-12 South is going to be competitive.”