Favorite Football Moment from This Year?

Josh Newman has a fun Q&A in today’s Ute Mailbag.

What’s your favorite football moment this year?

Q: “What has been your favorite moment of this season so far?” - @StaircaseWhitt

A: My knee-jerk reaction here was to say the atmosphere at the Pac-12 championship game, but let’s go with something less obvious.

The Cam Rising-to-Devaughn Vele flea-flicker to close the first half at USC on Oct. 9 feels like one of the most important moments of the season.

Remember, there was a lot going on that night. That was the first game after Aaron Lowe’s death. The program was flying to Dallas two days later for Lowe’s funeral. And USC is a place where Utah has had all sorts of trouble over the last decade.

The flea-flicker, a play that was rooted in Rising hearing the call in his helmet, then reading his wristband incorrectly, put the Utes in total control of a game they won, 42-26, at the LA Coliseum.

Utah did not have control of the Pac-12 South at that point, and USC’s season turned into a dumpster fire, but that win felt like something significant. No one actually knew what was to come, but that night felt like a moment where the Utes announced they would be trouble for everyone for the next two months, which turned out to be true.

I think that’s as good a choice as any, but there are a couple of others that I think are in the mix. 1) Tavion Thomas going in for a TD on the first play after the Moment of Loudness against UCLA, the first that was for both Aaron Lowe and Ty Jordan; 2) Britain Covey taking it to the house from the Utah 22, fittingly, against Oregon that simply crushed the Ducks’ hopes that night; 3) Devon Lloyd’s pick 6 in the CCG to crush the hopes out of the Ducks for the second time in 13 days.

Other thoughts?

Those are all great ones. I don’t know if any others are bigger, but here are a couple more thoughts of key moments or favorites:

  • Rising’s pass to Howard with 0:16 to go and then pass to Enis for a 2-pt conversion to tie the game at SDSU. Coming back from 24-10 after the 3rd with little hope of the season going anywhere showed us the future of the team. Sure, OT fell short but we could see the vision.
  • Tavion’s 4th TD vs UCLA. This was as much credit to Thomas as it was to the OL who had gelled enough. Repeat at Stanford.
  • 3 100-yard rushers @ Stan. Whitball in full display and we actually had an OL and RBs with different skills that all contributed. Just loved it. Sure, Stanford was injury depleted and we typically match up well with a similarly built team, but it was still fun.
  • Overcoming 7 fumbles (losing 3) vs WSU. It was sloppy and low scoring, but gritting out a win was important for the team.
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At the time, I thought simply winning at the Coliseum would be our season highlight, and then there was the entire second half of the ASU game, particularly watching the defense repeatedly sack Daniels.

From there, things went so far in the right direction that there are a seeming unlimited supply of great moments, and we still have the Rose Bowl. This continues to be a GREAT Utah football season.

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Even though the game wasn’t close I think Lloyd’s pick six against Stanford was amazing. The angle of the throw compared to his position on the field made it such a great play & a very difficult catch.

The 2nd half against ASU. I love that Daniels wasn’t even honorable mention all PAC. Screw ASU!

Both games against Oregon. I wish we played UW this year. Spanking them would have excised some demons.

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The Oregon game at RES was maybe the most fun I’ve ever had at a home game. The crowd was absolutely electric that night.

The one play from that game would obviously be Covey’s punt return. I leaned over to my mom right before the play and said “If he takes this back, this place is going to explode”. Sure enough…

But I think the thing that stands out just as much - if not moreso - than the return itself was Whit being willing to call a timeout to save time on the clock and make Oregon kick it. That small decision sort of encapsulates the shift towards a more aggressive approach. Step on their throat, on as opposed to being content to simply run out the half.

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We beat them at their place the last time we played, so not as many demons as we think

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I agree to a point, but when the Utes have beaten them they have always been close games. A blowout win would be great. I think we’ve blown out every team in the PAC except for UW.

Well, we beat them up there in 2019, but last year we blew a 21 - 0 lead and ended up losing.

Sorry to conjure up a past nightmare.

Pututau’s safety against UCLA, sacking Garbers in the end zone. Happened right in front of us (we sit right on the goa line). Safeties are rare, and usually are from a bad snap or penalty rather than a defensive tackle for loss.

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See, I had even forgotten we played them in 2020. It seemed like such a non-season to me, that I really don’t remember much of it at all.

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Slap the damned asterisk on last year it so richly deserves and move on…

Just keep me away from that PAC12N show about this year’s Utes team. I need to go to the store for Kleenex first.

Are those happy tissues or sad tissues, or both?

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Yes

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Flea flicker, :100:.
To me it meant that our O’s balls had finally dropped, so to speak.
“Take a knee?” F that.
“TAKE A KNEE?!?!?!?!” Hell No!
“You play to win the game!”

To me that was as emphatic as it gets.
Utes are here to win!

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Ok, gotta admit Whitt dialing up a play at the end of the U$C game after their coach called that timeout when we had the game in hand made me smile. It was like “so you don’t think it’s over…well we will just have to see about that.”

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