SALT LAKE CITY — BYU transfer Francis Bernard is the 18th player on Utah’s defense to reach double figures in tackles. The junior, who has 10 stops and an interception in eight games, is getting increased opportunities for playing time.
“He’s been improving ever since he got here. He’s now in the starting 43 package, which we don't use a lot — but when we’re in it, he’s the guy that comes in and is starting in that package,” said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham, who added that Bernard is also the first guy in with the nickel package if anything were to happen to senior starters Chase Hansen or Cody Barton.
Whittingham acknowledged that it has taken time for Bernard to get up to speed with the Utah defense.
“There’s a learning curve. The learning curve is steepest at linebacker in this system,” Whittingham said. “Linebackers and safeties have the steepest learning curve and we try to keep things more streamline for the edge guys on the outside and the front.”
WEATHER WATCH: A good chance of snow is in the forecast for Saturday’s game in Boulder. However, the possibility thereof isn’t changing Utah’s approach.
“Not a bit. It doesn’t matter what it is. We just play,” said Whittingham, who heard there might be a 40 percent chance of flurries. “Whatever it is, we just put the ball down and snap it and we’ll play.”
NATIONAL ATTENTION: Reigning Lou Groza Award winner Matt Gay has been named a “Star of the Week” by the Palm Beach County Sports Commission, which honors the top collegiate place-kicker each year. Gay was recognized for making a school-record six field goals in last Saturday’s 32-25 win over Oregon.4 comments on this story
LAST ONE: Utah’s famed “Hallandale Trio” from Florida is down to wide receiver Demari Simpkins in the wake of season-ending injuries to quarterback Tyler Huntley and running back Zack Moss. Simpkins said it hurt to be on the field last week without his high school teammates.
“Things happen and you’ve just got to move on,” Simpkins said. “Those guys know we are going to handle it and play to the best of our abilities and just take care of our business. Like I said, it hurt, but those guys know we have them.”