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Quotes From Utah Football's Week One Media Availability

Nov 2, 2020

Monday, Nov. 2 Media Availability: Kyle Whittingham, Orlando Umana, Britain Covey & Brant Kuithe

Kyle Whittingham | Head Coach

Opening statement…
"Game week is finally here, and that is a relief for a lot of our guys in a lot of ways. It has been a lot of months without an opponent, just hitting each other, and we are tired of that. It is exciting that the week is here. We definitely need this week of practice and we are going to maximize the time that we have. We will be on the field today in full pads and it will most likely be our last full padded practice before the game. Tomorrow is off as per the Pac-12 mandate, but then we will be back at it Wednesday. The guys are looking forward to it and they are eager to get going. It is going to be a different game day atmosphere obviously with the circumstances that are involved and no fans, so it is all continuing to be uncharted territory. That is the situation we are in, so we just move forward and hopefully we will play well on Saturday."

On having Britain Covey back…
"It is huge for our offense and huge for our special teams. He is one of the best returners in the nation, at least he was his freshman year, and we expect him to be very dangerous as a punt returner and kick returner. He is completely healthy as far as the knee injury and we need his quickness and speed. He was not himself last year and that is why we made the decision to sit him out after those first four games, so he was able to get a redshirt last year and then of course with this year, it is like it doesn't count so he really gets another redshirt year. He means a lot to our offense. He has got a role that is significant. He is one of the best slot receivers in the Pac-12 and we are expecting him to have an impact on our offense this year in a very positive way."

On the left guard position and what he is looking for our of Keaton Bills and Braeden Daniels…
"Those two have performed exceptionally well all camp long and so they both earned the opportunity to play, and they are both going to play and rotate. There are a lot of positions like that, where you see the starting lineup but those backups are going to get reps. But we will see who settles in and does the best job in game situations. There are a lot of these ones and twos that are very close, neck-and-neck, so a lot of them are listed as 'or', but some of them are listed as one and two with two still getting reps. So we will see how things unfold in the course of a season, and you can play your way into more playing time or less as the case may be depending on how you perform."

On if this game week in particular feels a little different…
"It does have a different feel. The other day we went through our pregame routine, and that has had to be changed up because not only are we dealing with the COVID stuff and those restrictions and modifications, but we also don't have a locker room over at the stadium. So, that has caused us to change our routine quite a bit. We aren't complaining about it, but the pregame routine dramatically changed because we will do a lot of the pregame stuff over at the facility and then arrive at the stadium much later than we are used to because of the need to get things done over with better facilities to work with."

On what Devin Brumfield and Jordan Wilmore bring to the run game…
"Devin is more of an inside runner. He is our biggest back at 215 pounds. He is a physical runner in between the tackles, he is a guy that never makes a mental mistake and he handles his pass protections and blitz pickups exceptionally well. He also catches the ball out of the backfield well. He is very steady and consistent with his play. Jordan Wilmore is a little more elusive, more of an outside guy, although he is pretty tough inside the tackles. Jordan has made a lot of strides since last year. Nobody really got a bunch of work the last couple of years with Zack Moss taking the vast majority of the carries, but they both bring something to the table as do Micah Bernard and Ty Jordan. They will also be on the field, getting their reps in situations, and they have their package plays where we can utilize those guys. It will be a by-committee running back situation early on. If somebody clearly demonstrates through live game work that they are ahead of the other guys, then we will gravitate toward that guy. Right now, we plan on using all four and we feel good about all of them."

Orlando Umana | SR | Offensive Lineman

On if this game week has a different feel than usual because of how odd this year has been…
"Most definitely. Basically this whole year has been different, from the new stadium to the way we do stuff, but I just can't wait to play."

On the depth of the offensive line…
"This year I feel like we have really good depth, especially for the offensive line. I feel like all 12 guys that will be traveling can start and the chemistry has been good. We get along in the film room and out on the practice field so I just can't wait to see what we do this season."

On getting named team captain…
"I am just honored by my teammates thinking that I can uphold that title. So, I am going to do my best to be a leader."

Brant Kuithe | JR | Tight End

On preparing for the first game without non-conference games…
"You just prepare like any other game. You watch film and practice a lot. It is great that we have had two weeks or a little bit more to prepare for Arizona. Having those practice games are really good warm-up games, but at the same time it isn't realistic and we aren't playing at the level we can be playing, so I think at first it could be a little rusty but it is going to be good because I think we have had enough time to prepare."

On having a healthy Britain Covey…
"He is a guy that can do it all. He can run the ball, he can take a hand off, he can catch the ball on the fly and run it for 40 yards. He can really do anything. We can do so many things with our offense, so I'm excited."

On how the defense has looked from an offensive perspective…
"A lot of guys are young, like Nate Ritchie, a lot of those guys they are coming along. When you are a freshman, you don't really know defensive schemes. It is a lot different playing in college compared to high school. So, there is a lot of adaptability going on early, but I think they are doing well. I think the first game is going to be a good test to see where we are at."

Britain Covey | JR | Wide Receiver

On the process of getting healthy…
"It has been a process. I don't think I felt very excited for football like this in probably a year and a half. Going into last season was such a mental battle because I wasn't even thinking of football as much as I was thinking about my knee or my health. It was frustrating because I just couldn't get into it. I would line up for a play thinking about my knee instead of thinking about the actual play, so that was really frustrating for me. I just feel like I am back to how I have always been as a competitor and it is great to be able to get into it with guys and to feel that competitive nature come out of me again. I am just more excited than I've ever been for a season. It makes you realize that there aren't a lot of people who get to play this game at this age and so I just feel really lucky right now and I am really excited."

On if his mentality is changed with jumping right into conference games…
"It lowers the margin for error. You have no room to grow right from the beginning when you used to have time to kind of grow into things, you have to start from game one now. Especially starting with a team like Arizona, who is a very good team, even Coach Ludwig said it, it is going to be an on the fly scouting report. It isn't as much that we haven't had the first three games, it is that Arizona hasn't had their first three games, so we don't have film on them from this year. So it is going to be a live scouting report through the first two quarters of the game. You are going to have to make adjustments on the fly and basically get to know the player personnel from the first two quarters of the game."

Wednesday, Nov. 2 Media Availability: Kyle Whittingham, Morgan Scalley, Devin Lloyd, JaTravis Broughton & Nephi Sewell

Morgan Scalley | Defensive Coordinator & Safeties Coach

On how he feels about his cornerbacks heading into the first game…
"Sharrieff Shah has done such a great job getting them ready. We are young, so the experience has to come in game time. In the past, our true freshman, that is where they have learned the most, is just game time experience. It will be learning experience for them, but like I said, Coach Shah has done a great job of getting them ready to play and we are excited to see them under the lights."

On if he feels optimistic about the secondary despite their youth…
"Always optimistic, but also facing the reality that mistakes are going to be made. We are very talented back there, but there is no replacing game time experience and that is something we are excited for. It isn't something that we fear or that we are nervous about, it is just time to get them out there and time for them to learn what it is like. We feel like we are getting the right group out there in terms of the starters. Developing the guys behind them has also been a priority of ours, and that is coming along well."

On his general assessment of the defense heading into the first game…
"My general assessment is just that we are inexperienced, but no one cares about your youth or your inexperience. Arizona isn't going to sit there and say 'hold on, let's go vanilla just for these guys because they are young and inexperienced.' That's not going to happen, so our job is to develop and coach, and we've got some really good coaches in Lewis Powell and Sione Po'uha taking care of the defensive front, I've already mentioned Coach Shah and then Coach Swan has already proved he is worth the hire. We are fired up about these young guys and we are excited for live competition against another opponent besides our offense that we have been playing against for a number of weeks now. It is time to get going."

On Nate Ritchie's progress…
"Fantastic progress. Nate is a guy that really came in physically where you want him to be. It is just a matter of picking up the defense. The strong safety position is one of our hardest to learn and to be able to do it effectively. Nate has done a great job. He studies on his own, he does everything that you ask a young freshman to do that wants to play early. He sacrifices his downtime to study ball and get ready, work on his footwork, work on his technique. Nate is up for the challenge and we are excited to see him play."

On Clark Phillips III…
"Same mentality as Nate. He has the desire to play and be great, to study film and know the ins and out of the defense. Knowing not just your specific assignment, but how your assignment fits into the whole defense. He has a great work ethic and is a very bright young man. We expect him to make plays for us."

Devin Lloyd | JR | Linebacker

On finally getting to play against another team…
"We are all ready, we are all anxious. I was actually talking to some of the guys on the team and the feeling is mutual. We are ready for the day to finally get after somebody else. We have been beating each other up and wearing each other out these last couple of months, so we are just ready to go against somebody else."

On how Nephi Sewell has come along…
"Nephi has gotten better and progressed in every way. He is going to do a lot of special things. With the way he practices and the passion he has, he is going to do a lot of great things."

On having yesterday off because of the election…
"I think it was a great job by not only the football program but all of Utah Athletics to emphasize going out and voting. The emphasis they have put on it through social media and all of the notifications they put up to help people, they made it very easy for us this year."

JaTravis Broughton | SO | Cornerback

On the pressure of being named one of the starting cornerbacks…
"It is just a lot of hard work at practice. It takes a lot to become great and I still have a ways to go, but I am making progress every day. It puts a lot on my plate, but I don't back down from challenges, so on Saturday I am going to be ready to play."

On if things feel a little more normal since it is a game week…
"I would say yes. With our game preparation, we have a certain way of doing things here, so they have made it as normal as possible due to the conditions we are in right now. My team seems hungry, they seem ready and we are ready to go get it."

On being a veteran as just a sophomore on the secondary…
"I am just more focused. I do more film study, I'm on the young guys more. It is a lot of pressure, but if you are able to handle it, then it isn't a problem."

Nephi Sewell | JR | Linebacker

On his progression as a linebacker and getting to play next to Devin Lloyd…
"I'm feeling more confident every day as we move toward game day. Devin is a great leader and he brings everyone along. He is good at making sure everyone's mind is right going into practice. I know we will all be ready going into our game."

On preparing for a conference opponent without non-conference games…
"I know preseason games are important and this year is very different for all of us, but I feel like the live reps we take in fall camp has really prepared a lot of our bodies for this. Personally, I know that my body is in great shape at the moment. As for facing an opponent without any playing time beforehand, we just have to just watch the film from last year and take what we can learn from that."

On his confidence in the defense as a whole…
"I feel pretty confident. I know what to expect from my teammates and I know that we are held to a high standard. Even though we are a young team, I expect great things from us this year."