We’re 4-3. We’re not 0-7. We go out and we win one game at a time, and we’re going to go to a great bowl game. —Utah wide receivers coach Guy Holliday
SALT LAKE CITY – For real competitors, there is anguish in losing.
Certainly there is suffering among Utah’s football players as the team grapples with a three-game losing streak.
“There’s a difference between hardship and self-pity,” said Utah wide receivers coach Guy Holliday. “We’re going to go through some hard times in life. We’re going to go through some hard times like we went through on the field. But you can’t have self-pity.”
And even the worst pain the game can inflict offers both beauty and lessons that the wise embrace.
“My thing is, nobody will steal my joy for the game,” he said. “We’re 4-3. We’re not 0-7. We go out and we win one game at a time, and we’re going to go to a great bowl game. And if you don’t believe that then you’ve got to get out. You know, sometimes, if you want your boat to sail, you’ve got to get the dead weight off. If you’re not going to be into it and have fun and love the game, I don’t want you around me, personally.”
Holliday said that the struggles of the past three weeks will only make the Utes stronger — individually and, hopefully, collectively.
“You find people who can fight through adversity, and you’ll always be successful,” he said. “If a little adversity breaks you, where are you going to be in life. We’re going through a little adversity. We’ve got to find the guys who are going to fight through and play. We’ll get there. We’ll be fine.”
DEFENSIVE EFFORT: One of the more surprising aspects of Utah’s struggles against Arizona State was the defensive issues.
“There wasn’t much to be positive about,” said defensive tackle Filipo Mokofisi. “We watched the film. We did some good things as a defense and a lot of negative things. We’ll take those good things, fix some stuff, and keep moving on.” He said the responsibility for returning to a defensive unit that gets sacks and takeaways on a regular basis lies with the players.
“It falls on the leaders of this defense,” he said. “I take responsibility for that. I need to do a better job of getting our guys ready to play and holding them accountable for things. We can’t let guys get deflated, down on themselves.”
He said he didn’t notice anything different about Saturday’s game until it started to unravel.
“I didn’t feel anything different until we got into the game, and they started scoring a little bit,” he said. “Then the attitude of the team went down, heads were down.”
EMPTY BLITZ: Utah blitzes more than most teams, but they haven’t been able to live up to their nickname “Sack Lake City” during the last few games.
“We have great schemes,” said linebackers coach Justin Ena. “It’s making sure that we simplify things, making sure guys are running to the ball, and doing their assignment at 100 percent. If you watch a blitz here and there, you’re going to see a guy not doing what he’s supposed to do. And if he does what he’s supposed to do, the blitz works.”
ODDS AND ENDS: Utah is losing an average of 73.9 yards per game to penalties, while opponents are averaging 48.9 yards in penalties. Utah is outscoring its opponents in every quarter but the fourth.
And the Utes have scored 68 points off of turnovers, while Utah’s opponents have scored 29 points off of the Utes’ turnovers.