Utah’s 2 small playmakers — Britain Covey and Ty Jordan — coming up with big plays
Both are small — but their big-play offensive and special teams abilities helped boost the Utes in their 30-24 win over Oregon State Saturday night at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
One has been in the Utah program for years. The other is brand new.
Both are diminutive — but their big-play offensive and special teams abilities helped boost the Utes in their 30-24 victory over Oregon State Saturday night at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
Britain Covey, a 5-foot-8 junior, whose freshman season was way back in 2015, caught an eight-yard touchdown pass from Jake Bentley midway through in the third quarter. Early in the fourth quarter, he returned a punt 64 yards for a touchdown. He finished with four catches for 54 yards.
And 5-7 freshman running back Ty Jordan rushed 27 times for a career-high 167 yards and scored a second-quarter touchdown. He also caught two passes for 22 yards.
While that marked Jordan’s first career TD as a Ute, Covey hadn’t scored a TD since the 2018 season — after sitting out most of the 2019 campaign due to injury.
For coach Kyle Whittingham, seeing that kind of production from Covey and Jordan was gratifying on many levels. And he hopes to see more of the same when Utah visits No. 21 Colorado Friday (7:30 p.m., MST, FS1).
“It was awesome to see Brit back there and doing his thing. That punt return was vintage Covey,” he said. “There’s not a lot of guys in the country that can turn that particular scenario into a touchdown with the defenders he had to make miss. He has such a knack for seeing the openings and where to make the cuts and just where to run. He’s such a weapon for us.”
Jordan, who had a costly fumble in the loss the previous week at Washington, worked hard to shore up that part of his game.
“One thing that impressed me most about Ty, his fumble against Washington, he took that to heart and basically you could see that he made it up in his mind that something like that wasn’t going to happen again,” Covey said. “He’s got an amazing mentality. He works hard.”
Covey seems to enjoy having someone close to his size on the offense.
“He’s like a little rock. I’m little but I feel I’m tall next to him. It’s like being on my mission in Chile where I was taller than people. But then you put your hand on him and your hand hurts because his muscles are so freaking stiff,” he said, laughing. “If I were a recruiter, the first type of player I would recruit is someone like Ty Jordan, someone who is dynamic out of the backfield but also has great hands and you can motion and do so many different things to keep the defense on its toes. The best part is he doesn’t have a big head.”
Whittingham said Jordan has established his role on the offense.
“Ty Jordan, evidenced by what you saw tonight, has separated himself and he right now is definitely our lead back,” he said.
Because Jordan is fresh out of West Mesquite High School in Mesquite, Texas, it’s taken some time for him to adjust to the speed of the game at this level.
“It was a little bit of a process to get used to that. He’s starting to get confidence. He maybe wasn’t sure early in the season how he fit in here. But now he’s a guy that can be very productive,” Whittingham said. “He didn’t put the ball on the ground, which is awesome. That needed to happen. He made an absolute, concerted effort all week long to work on his ball security and he did just that. One thing we have to do a better job of is, we have to throw him the ball more. He has exceptional hands. We’ve got to do a better job of getting him involved in the throw game because he can bring something to the table there and add even more than what he’s doing right now.”
When asked about his performance Saturday, Jordan humbly credited the offensive line, his coaches and the other running backs for helping him.
The way the season has worked out, with extra practices and fewer games, has helped Jordan pick up the offense quicker.
“I feel like if we had a season like we were supposed to, it would have been a little slower process of getting acclimated to the speed and the physicality of playing at this level,” he said. “How we practice on a day-to-day basis, we practice way harder than we do playing games. I feel like that allows us to have good games.”
If I were a recruiter, the first type of player I would recruit is someone like Ty Jordan.” — Utah wide receiver Britain Covey
As for scoring his first touchdown?
“It felt amazing. I can’t explain it with words. It was so exhilarating,” Jordan said. “I grew up my whole life wanting and dreaming to be a college athlete. Now I’m here. I’m experiencing my first couple of games and my first touchdown. I feel like I made my mom proud.”
Covey missed the season opener against USC due to a hamstring injury. He wasn’t supposed to play last week at Washington, but he did see limited action.
But against Oregon State, he felt better than he had in a long time.
“It was nice. I don’t know if words can express how frustrating injuries have been for me. This is probably my first healthy game since the first Washington game (in 2018),” he said. “Being healthy makes the biggest difference, I can’t even explain it. I came in tonight more excited than any game in the past two years just because when I lined up, I wouldn’t be thinking about any injury or any part of my body. I could think about my assignment. It felt great. It felt amazing.”