SALT LAKE CITY — Francis Bernard is coming off his best game with the Utah Utes. The junior, a transfer from BYU, made five tackles in last week’s 38-20 setback at Arizona State.
“It was good,” Bernard said. “I was just expecting to do my job, but when the opportunities were given, I was able to make the most of them and it was fun, it was really fun.”
In his first season with the Utes, Bernard has appeared in seven games — making nine tackles. He had an interception in Utah’s 41-10 win over UCLA on Oct. 26.
Bernard, who made 80 tackles and had three interceptions and a fumble recovery for BYU in 2016, said it was a little reassuring to know he can still play football after sitting out last season.
The former Herriman High star joined an already-stout Utah defense that was well stocked at linebacker with seniors Chase Hansen and Cody Barton, as well as junior Donavan Thompson.
“It’s been good. I think, more importantly, it’s been a good learning experience for me,” said Bernard, who added that he’s learned a lot from Hansen, Barton, Thompson and other linebackers in the program.
Being part of Utah’s defense has been fun, he explained, and there’s been no looking back. He’s now a Ute.
“It’s all about Utah. It’s been Utah since, I don’t even know, since the day I decided to leave BYU,” Bernard said. “But we’re just focused on Oregon, and that’s where my mind is at.”
The 24th-ranked Utes (6-3, 4-3) host the Ducks (6-3, 3-3) Saturday at Rice-Eccles Stadium. They head to Colorado the following week before closing out the season Nov. 24 at home against BYU.
“I’m excited for it,” Bernard said about his reunion game against the Cougars. “But like I said, Oregon is our biggest focus … but I’m excited.”
Bernard has remained good friends with BYU linebacker Sione Takitaki. Bernard said he doesn’t really watch the Cougars play on television, but does keep up on how his buddy does.
Switching teams isn’t something Bernard has second thoughts about.
“No regrets,” he said. “Zero.”
And the future looks bright in terms of playing time with Hansen and Barton graduating. Bernard, though, is more locked into the present.
“Yeah. I’m excited. Next year will be good,” he said. “But more importantly, I think just the way we finish out this year will kind of carry over how next year goes.”
IN MEMORY: A moment of silence will be held before the game for the late Lauren McCluskey. In addition, a flag with the winged foot logo created in her honor will be carried onto the field by the football team. The MUSS also plans to display a special banner.31 comments on this story
MOSS MILESTONE: Junior Zack Moss is just the fourth player in team history to rush for 1,000 yards in two seasons. He had 1,173 in 2017 and currently has 1,092 this year.
“It’s something that I definitely have worked for since coming in here, just part of what I want to do — come here and be remembered as one of the best backs to come through here,” said Moss, who emphasized that he’s not done yet even though back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons is a good milestone to reach.
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Oregon (6-3, 3-3)
at Utah (6-3, 4-3)
Saturday, 3:30 p.m.
Radio: ESPN 700AM