Abbreviated season isn’t optimal, but Utes agree it’s ‘better than nothing’
Camp opens Friday as Utes embark on a shortened season in bid for a third consecutive Pac-12 South title
SALT LAKE CITY — Simply put, it is what it is.
That phrase, though, doesn’t sit well with Utah football coach Kyle Whittingham. It never has and odds are it never will.
However, considering the coronavirus pandemic and the havoc it’s wreaking, there may not be a better way to describe the seven-game season the Utes are scheduled to kick off Nov. 7 at home against Arizona. Camp begins Friday after a lengthy postponement by the Pac-12.
Whittingham noted that things will be a little different. Make that a lot different. Camp will not be an all-day affair this season; no chance for team gatherings that begin in the early morning and often end in the late evening. NCAA rules will likely cap preparation at 20 hours per week with school being in session and other variables like COVID-19 to navigate.
“It’s better than nothing. I’d much rather be playing seven and contending for a title championship and national championship (than) sitting at home waiting until next year.” — Devin Lloyd
“You have typically got fall camp and there’s nothing but fall camp going. Right now we’ll get in school and so it’s going to be more of a glorified in-season routine where we practice in the afternoon,” said Whittingham, who explained that the Utes will typically practice from 2-6 p.m.
Fall camp usually features whole days dedicated to football — meetings, lifting and such.
“So it’ll be abbreviated,” Whittingham said.
The Utes, under the circumstances, are prepared for it. They’ve focused on film study (headlined by installs) and the weight room. Whittingham said progress — and lot’s of it — has been made in both areas.
Camp will bring contact and reps to the table, adding to the obvious elation Whittingham said the team has for having a season to play. It’s a case of give and take.
Yep, sorry coach, it is what it is.
Utah’s bid for a third consecutive Pac-12 South title features conference home games against Arizona, USC and Oregon State. Road tests are slated for Arizona State, Colorado and UCLA.
The delayed and shortened season concludes in mid-December, giving the Pac-12 an opportunity to have a team qualify for the College Football Playoff.
“It’s better than nothing,” said linebacker Devin Lloyd. “I’d much rather be playing seven and contending for a title championship and national championship (than) sitting at home waiting until next year.”
Lloyd went on to say that he’s blessed to have the opportunity to play the scheduled games and said the Utes are going to take full advantage of it.
Fans, though, won’t be directly involved with the journey. The Pac-12 is not permitting them at games this season.
Add another “it is what it is” to the upcoming campaign. Junior tight end Brant Kuithe acknowledged it’ll be different and that fans will be missed.
“It’s just going to feel like practice honestly. It’s gonna feel weird at first,” Kuithe said. “Not having anybody there just kind of feels like you’re just scrimmaging the other team. But I think once the game starts and you just get that drilling going, it’s not gonna really make much of a difference.”