Football’s never been an issue. He’s obviously playing his tail off and making a lot of plays and doing his thing that way. I wish him nothing but the best. —Mark Helfrich, on Darren Carrington II
SALT LAKE CITY — Mark Helfrich, the ex-Oregon coach, returned to Rice-Eccles Stadium for the first time since he was on the sidelines for the Ducks’ 30-28 victory over the Utes last November. That was the game where Darren Carrington II caught the winning touchdown pass with two seconds remaining.
“It’s odd. Like most trips through the Pac-12 region it’s mixed emotion and memories,” said Helfrich, who also coached at Arizona State for five years and still knows a lot of the support personnel and media for the Sun Devils.
Helfrich tried to visit with Carrington, who transferred to Utah over the summer, before the game but was unsuccessful. He did check in with Utah coach Kyle Whittingham and receivers coach Guy Holliday about Carrington.
“Football’s never been an issue. He’s obviously playing his tail off and making a lot of plays and doing his thing that way,” Helfrich said. “I wish him nothing but the best.”
Helfrich isn’t surprised that Carrington is doing well and leading the Utes in receiving.
“Not at all. He’s a fantastic football player,” said Helrich, who added that Carrington "is someone who can make that bail-out play for a guy and make you look good."
Carrington led the Utes with six receptions for 56 yards in the 30-10 loss to Arizona State.
HALL OF FAME: Former Utes Steve Smith Sr. and Jordan Gross, who spent the majority of their NFL careers as teammates on the Carolina Panthers, were among six 2017 Crimson Club Hall of Fame inductees introduced at halftime.
“It was really special because we’ve done a lot of things together and this just was cherry on top,” Smith said.
The other honorees include Staci Burt (soccer), Kent Crawford (tennis), Joe Evans (softball) and Chris Shelton (baseball).
DAY GAME: For the first time since Washington came to town on Oct. 29, 2016, the Utes hosted a day game. Saturday’s kick off was 1:30 p.m.
Utah athletic director Chris Hill said the early start was made possible by the American League Championship Series. The Houston Astros and New York Yankees played their Game 7 in the late broadcast window usually occupied by Pac-12 football.
EXTRA POINTS: Punter Mitch Wishnowsky had a strong outing for Utah, averaging 48.2 yards on five punts. Linebacker Kavika Luafatasaga made 10 tackles, sharing team-high honors with safety Corrion Ballard. Luafatasaga recorded his first career interception as well. A scout from the Cleveland Browns was credentialed for the game. The announced attendance was 45,863, marking Utah’s 48th straight sellout at home.