Utah Utes football: Team looks for redemption at Notre Dame
Ravell Call, Deseret News
SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Utah's first trip to Notre Dame Stadium is special for a lot of reasons.
A win over the Fighting Irish would also make folks in the program a little less agitated.
Utah coach Kyle Whittingham doesn't have a problem with the demeanor. He pointed out that no one in the program wants a team where lopsided setbacks just roll off like water on a duck's back.
"You want guys that are competitive and get a little bit ornery and irritated when something like that happens," Whittingham said.
Focus and concentration have been strong as the Utes respond to the shortcoming.
"We've really bounced back. We're positive. We have a lot of things to be thankful for right now, and we're really counting our blessings as a football team," said senior captain Zane Taylor. "We still have a ton to play for and everything. So we're keeping that in mind. This can still be a great season."
At 8-1 overall, the Utes are No. 14 in the Bowl Championship Series standings and 15th in both major polls.
Now comes a game on NBC against the Fighting Irish.
"We're just excited to have the opportunity to go and play at Notre Dame," Taylor said. "It's going to be a great experience for everybody, I'm sure."
Returning to a big stage, a week after hosting ESPN's "College GameDay," has the Utes thinking about redemption.
"Definitely. This is a huge opportunity right now," Taylor said. "We are going to play a team with a lot of winning tradition. We're on national TV. We're going to have millions of people watching us. So this is definitely a great week to kind of bounce back and kind of rebound from last week.
"I'm really excited about this game. They're a good team. I don't think their record (4-5) really shows how good they are.
"This is going to be a fun game, a challenging game, and I think our fans are really going to enjoy it," he added.
Notre Dame could pose a difficult challenge. The Fighting Irish, however, have been riddled with injuries. Quarterback Dayne Crist, running back Armando Allen, tight end Kyle Rudolph, wide receiver Theo Riddick and nose guard Ian Williams are among those sidelined.
Whittingham, though, had a stern response to the subject. He noted that the Fighting Irish still have plenty of talent available, including a lot of size and speed.
"Everyone's got injuries. Everyone in the country's got injuries," he said in declining to address them. "Injuries are a non-factor in this game because they are such a factor for everybody. It doesn't make sense to whine about them, or talk about them, or make excuses about them. You just move forward."
The latter applies to Utah's damaging loss to TCU as well.
"I think we're in good shape," said Whittingham, who noted that the Utes had very good practices this week. "Everyone still feels the sting of the game, but it's working out of our system."
A win at Notre Dame would help expedite things.
"We're going to have fun, and we're going to take care of business," Taylor predicted.
And it sounds as if a lesson was learned a week ago, even if TCU was decidedly better than Utah.
"The thing is you've got to show up every Saturday because what you've done in the past doesn't mean anything," Taylor said. "What you do that Saturday is what it all means. So we've got to come out, play our game, play our best football, and we should be all right."
Utes on the air
No. 15 Utah (8-1) at Notre Dame (4-5)
Today, 12:30 p.m.
Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend, Ind.
TV: NBC Radio: 700 AM
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