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Utah Football Player Quotes: Oregon

Nov 15, 2022
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Redshirt Freshman Defensive Tackle Simote Pepa
On how his game has been developing over this season…
"I feel like at first, it took some time. It was rough my freshman year, just trying to get the hang of things. It's different than high school, especially coming back from a mission. I've had great guys with me, Devin Kaufusi, older guys like Hauati Pututau. Even Junior Tafuna, just helping me come along, making sure my technique is good. It was a struggle at first, but now it's flowing well. I'm excited just to contribute more to the team."
 
Did anything click in helping that development?
"I think it was a lot of things. The main thing, I lost a lot of weight. Dropped a lot of pounds down and that helped me move better. I took care of my body. Took things more seriously. I got into the film room. The main thing is just the support from my teammates, especially the D-tackle group. They all supported me, pushed me, stayed back to do extra work. I think a lot of (the support) from them has helped me to be at this point right now."
 
On growing together as a young group…
"A lot of us (on the defensive line) already knew each other outside of football before we came here. (It helps) the fact that we have that base-level foundation of knowing each other. We're pretty much playing with our brothers right now. I've been playing with Junior Tafuna since we were eight years old. Playing next to him is super fun. It helps us click more. We know each other's thinking before it happens. It helps out a lot."
 
Junior Quarterback Cameron Rising
On takeaways from the Stanford game…
"It was a great team win. The O-Line did a great job dominating the line of scrimmage. Any time you do that, a guy like Tavion Thomas is just going to take it and run with it. It was great to see."
 
On how the offensive line is progressing…
"They've been playing great all season. Their level of play continues to rise and it's promising to see…that whole group does everything right. They make sure that they're preparing; whether their first, second or third (on the depth chart), they're going to be ready to go. That's just the mentality of the room. Props to Coach Harding for doing that so well and getting them on board."
 
On playing Oregon…
"We've got to get through them to get to the Pac-12 Championship. That's our goal. We just have to make sure we're doing everything we can to be ready to go for this week."
 
On Tavion Thomas' performance vs. Stanford…
"It was great to see. Him flying around with the ball, making plays, out there having fun, it's a good sight to see. Just got to keep it rolling."
 
Junior Running Back Tavion Thomas
On the Stanford game…
"It felt amazing, like I said before. The energy and juice out there was amazing, the way we prepared and were ready to go out there. It was good to be back out there with the guys and playing with them."
 
What does this Oregon game mean to you?
"It means a lot. It's another team in our way trying to stop us from getting to our goals. We've got to win that game and get them out of our way so we can reach (our goals)."

Sophomore Cornerback Zemaiah Vaughn
On how his game has developed this year from last…
"To be honest, I'd just say I'm getting a tad bit better. I know I haven't reached my peak yet, the potential that I know I have."
 
On transitioning to corner from being a quarterback in high school…
"I didn't think it was that hard. I always knew I was an athlete and that I could play any skill position on the field. When they told me I was going to come play defense, it put a smile on my face because I didn't really want to play QB anymore. It wasn't that bad. Learning the plays, trying to get the technique down, that was the hardest part about it. That's the most complicated part. If you don't do that, you're not going to play."
 
Is there an advantage to having played QB and knowing the thinking at that position?
"I think there is. Most of the time, when it comes down to situational football, you know what to expect in certain situations…Depending on down-and-distance, the formation and knowing the coordinator, that can tell you a lot about what's going on."