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Rose Bowl Diaries: Disney Land & Day One

Dec 27, 2021

PASADENA, Calif. - It was a full day in California for the Utah Football program, spending its first full day of bowl prep and Rose Bowl activities.

The day started with a solid practice in the morning, followed by a trip to Disneyland for the team. Head coach Kyle Whittingham, quarterback Cameron Rising, wide receiver Britain Covey, defensive end Mika Tafua and linebacker Devin Lloyd had the chance to ride in the official Disneyland Rose Bowl Concave before speaking with the media.

Head Coach Kyle Whittingham

On remaining focused in bowl prep while participating in special events throughout the week…
"It's challenging, but that's something we talk about as a team. The key to these bowl games is being able to balance the activities and pageantry of the bowl with preparation and getting ready for the game. We've got to be able to separate the two. When you're on the field and in the meeting room, you've got to be all business. And when it's time to have a good time, have a good time. But when it's time to work, you've gotta work."
On other bowl games being canceled recently, and if there's any concerns about the Rose Bowl…
"I don't know why there should be [any concern about the Rose Bowl], but I'm confident and hoping that everything can continue on in its course. We seem to be doing OK as a team, knock on wood, and expecting Ohio State to be the same. But you're right, there's been some cancellations. Hopefully the Rose Bowl Game will go off with no hitches. So we'll see what happens."

Junior Linebacker Devin Lloyd

On the expected turnout of Utah fans at the Rose Bowl Game…
"It's amazing. We've had great support all season. Even at the Pac-12 Championship Game they traveled extremely well. I just love our fans for supporting us and being there for us. I'm expecting another amazing atmosphere."
On the special activities during the week leading up to the Rose Bowl Game…
"This is real special. Playing in the Rose Bowl, everything that comes with it, first time in program history. I've never experienced anything like this in my collegiate career. It's really special and I'm just taking in every moment of it."
Is this your first time at Disneyland?
"My dad used to take me here a lot when I was younger. But this is my first time here with the team. Everything that is behind this, being in the Rose Bowl, it's a special experience."
Who's your favorite Disney character?
"The Beast kind of seems like a player. From Beauty and the Beast?"

Sophomore Quarterback Cameron Rising

On what it means to be a part of the whole Rose Bowl experience…
"It's just everything you work for throughout the season. You work to be in this opportunity and to get to experience these cool things that the Rose Bowl has to offer and it's just nice to be living it. You just need to know when to focus on the fun part and then the football part and that's really the important thing."

On what Cam is doing to keep his eye on the prize…
"You need to keep football in the back of your mind and it's always got to be there. You need to go and play a football game at the end of the week and you just have to know that there are times throughout the week where you get to that break and take a load off and focus on the fun part."

Junior Defensive End Mika Tafua

On mentally preparing for the Rose Bowl Game and Utah's first appearance…
"We're just sticking to what we've been doing: fundamentals, technique, focusing on ourselves. At the end of the day, it is the Rose Bowl, it is the Granddaddy of Them All, but at the end of the day, it's a football game. So we're preparing like it's a football game.
"December 3 [the Pac-12 Championship] we had a great opportunity to test that mentality the first time. Everyone handled it the same. Obviously, we're going to game plan differently, but if we take the same mindset of preparing Monday through Friday and let is loose come game day, I feel like we'll be fine."

Junior Wide Receiver Britain Covey 

On soaking in the experience of the Rose Bowl…
"I feel like I'm doing that every day. During the season, I would try to keep my head down and focus on everything and not worry about what happens after football or anything like that. But now this is my last game and I have sunk in it and I'm appreciating all the moments. I appreciate every last gasser we run during practice so it's one of those things where I feel like I didn't let myself due throughout my career but now I'm kind of indulging in it."

On how much bigger the Rose Bowl feels compared to previous bowl games Covey has been apart of...
"Yes it does, which is pretty fun and I've been to some pretty fun bowls too. But definitely the grand jour of the Rose Bowl. I mean, even the fact that it is the oldest bowl game makes it pretty exciting to be able to play in. I just remember waking up on New Year's Day every single year and watching football with my dad and watching the Rose Bowl. It was the one day my mom would let him watch guilt free."

On what Covey is looking forward to during this week knowing it's his last bowl game and game with Utah…
"I'm looking forward to just playing in this football game for two reasons: 1) My last game in a Utah uniform. Jus to play with this group of guys specifically, these brothers, but there are so many things that aren't guaranteed with the NFL so this could be my last game in a uniform in general. I hope not, I don't plan on it being. But it could very well be that. So I'm cherishing it and it's one of those games where coach says leave it all out there but it doesn't really hit home because you have a game next week. Well we don't and you really will leave it all out there and I'm excited about that."