Utah-UCLA game rescheduled as Utes struggle with COVID-19
Utah and UCLA are slated to play their scheduled game this week on Saturday instead of Friday as the Utes continue to struggle with COVID-19.
Utah’s season opener against Arizona, scheduled for last weekend, was canceled because the Utes didn’t have enough scholarship players available between cases of the coronavirus and the accompanying quarantine protocols via contact tracing.
The UCLA game now is set for a 10:30 p.m. ET kickoff on Saturday in Pasadena, Calif., but in remarks to reporters on Monday, coach Kyle Whittingham painted a dire picture of the readiness of his squad.
Whittingham didn’t disclose the number of players who have tested positive for the virus, but he said the team has had some players who became “very sick,” including one who was hospitalized but has been released.
The coach said team has “barely” enough players to face UCLA this weekend.
“We’re right on the borderline and the difference this week is we do have extra time to try to prepare some guys that really have been getting zero reps because of their status on the depth chart,” he said.
Now, the Utes are giving reps to practice squad and walk-on players to ready them for the Bruins.
“At least we have time to try to get some guys trained up as best as we can,” he said.
“Every week, every day, essentially there’s different lineups and getting people back from quarantine or from the virus itself and you’re losing some people,” he continued. “It’s been tough to keep continuity but I’m sure the whole country is having the same issue I would imagine.”
The coach said he recognized that playing UCLA was not a guarantee.
“If we get a few more positives this week, that could knock us out of the game this weekend. So it’s a day-to-day thing. We are doing our best to be able to play the game. But if we lose many more guys this week, maybe another situation, we’re not able to,” he said.
The Bruins lost their season opener at Colorado, 48-42, on Saturday.
Utah had a stellar season in 2019. The Utes were 11-1 before losing the Pac-12 championship game to Oregon and the Alamo Bowl to Texas, finishing 11-3.
–Field Level Media