Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — In the midst of Friday's practice at the Spence Eccles Field House, a teammate pointed out something to senior Christian Cox. He reminded the defensive end that it was his final practice at home as a Ute.
The team is scheduled to leave for the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas this morning.
"I was like, we've got a huge game in about five days," Cox said while looking ahead to Wednesday's tilt with Boise State at Sam Boyd Stadium.
Reflecting on the past, he said, is pretty much on the back burner for now.
Even so, Cox acknowledged it all feels a bit surreal — kind of like it did before last month's game against BYU.
"I don't know. It's different," he said while looking around the indoor practice facility. "... A lot of memories, they continue and it's fun. I guess it's a new chapter."
Cox and Utah's two other senior co-captains, Matt Asiata and Zane Taylor, are determined to keep themselves and the team focused.
"I can't really reminisce," Asiata said. "Boise State is a big team to play."
While the Broncos have Utah's attention, the graduating class is well aware that its time in the program is coming to an end.
"It's been really great around here," Asiata said. "I'm going to miss it — definitely."
Finishing things off right for the seniors, he continued, is the path he and the other captains are eager to have the team follow.
"We are just going to keep plugging along, keep focusing and working as hard as we usually do," Taylor said of preparing to win a 10th consecutive bowl victory.
That focus, he explained, overpowers the challenges of moving on as a senior.
"A lot of things are starting to sink in now. It's a little bit emotional, but you can't let it affect you too much. You've just got to have fun with it and not let it affect you in a negative way," Taylor said. "But it's great. You're not really taking anything for granted these last couple of weeks on campus."
A lot of things are starting to dawn on the seniors. They've already had their last early morning team weightlifting session, plus final practices in Salt Lake City. Many have completed final exams as well.
"I'm not going to let the whole 'last of everything' kind of affect me in a negative way," Taylor said. "I'm just going to enjoy it and make as many memories as I can while I'm still a Ute. It's not going to affect us in a bad way."
Utah coach Kyle Whittingham noted that there's a lot of last times for this and that in football. There's something about the last practice at home, though, that hits you.
"I think everybody remembers their last practice, at least I do," Whittingham said while recalling his career finale at BYU. "I think that there's a little bit of nostalgia or an emotional aspect to it."
The 18 seniors on Utah's roster will get a chance to have their final say after Tuesday's walk-through practice at the stadium in Las Vegas. As per tradition, they will get to say a few words to teammates, coaches and staff at the conclusion of their final practice with the Utes.
"I've had so many experiences here and I can't believe it has gone by this quick," Taylor said. "It's going to be coming to an end pretty soon."
MAACO Bowl Las Vegas
No. 20 Utah (10-2) vs. No. 10 Boise State (11-1)
Wednesday, Dec. 22, 6 p.m.
Sam Boyd Stadium, Las Vegas
TV: ESPN Radio: 700 AM
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