SALT LAKE CITY — It’s billed as Utah’s annual “Blackout Game.” In reality, though, the Utes may be engaging in some sort of “The Edge of Night” when it faces UCLA Friday evening at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
Just like the old television soap opera, there are plenty of plot twists in the script.
For starters, Utah coach Kyle Whittingham is searching for something as Utah seeks to shake a four-game skid.
“We seem to be missing that edge. You need that edginess to you when you play and even though we are playing hard we don't seem to have that edge that can really make that difference,” he said. “I can't really define what that is, but it's just an edge to your team.”
Whittingham added that UCLA may be in the exact same situation. Both teams are 4-4 overall. As such, he noted that “it will be two teams in search of a win and needing a win.”
The loser may have a tough time just getting bowl eligible with three more games left on the schedule. However, Whittingham doesn’t see it as any type of elimination game.
“No. We treat every week the same and so we don't have any different approach or mindset. We just try to be in the best mindset we can be in for the game and come out with some passion and energy and be ready to compete.”
After four consecutive losses, the Utes are hankering for a win. They haven’t left a field victorious since topping Arizona 30-24 in Tucson on Sept. 22.
Starting quarterback Tyler Huntley acknowledged that the recent lack of success has been frustrating.
“We’re a great team and we’ve shown moments of that,” he said. “But we have other moments that set us back as well. So we’ve just got to focus on our mistakes and just get us a win.”
Safety Chase Hansen noted that the team has had to find a way to stay positive in practice and work hard.
“Obviously no one’s ignorant to the fact that we’ve lost four games in a row,” he said. “Like, that’s there.”
On Tuesday, Whittingham felt progress was being made in regard to his “edge” thing. He liked what he saw in the first two days of practice in preparation for UCLA and most likely quarterback Josh Rosen.
It followed more comments a day earlier on “that little extra” that is being sought.
"I don't know what you want to call it, mojo, swag, confidence, edge, whatever. Because we are playing hard, no one is quitting,” Whittingham said. “We are running to the ball on defense and the offense is working hard, but it just seems to be a little something is missing. We have to get that back.”
The sooner the better as far as the quest for bowl eligibility is concerned. The Utes need at least two more wins, as does UCLA, to make that happen.