Utes are soft

By By Natalie Dicou

By Natalie Dicou

Go ahead, talk. Say what you want about the Utah football team. Predict, guarantee, forecast. Consult your crystal ball. Laugh at its defense. Tell it the season is over.

It’s only going to rile them up. Whatever you say is going up on the bulletin board and will be used against you.

Motivation is a funny thing. When coaches know how to wield its powers, they have a distinct advantage over the competition.

Perhaps the most popular and successful motivational technique is creating an “it’s us against the world” mentality. Of course, most teams don’t face overwhelming doubt week-in and week-out, so smart coaches manufacture the underdog mindset.

They wrack their brains for ways to convince their players that the sports world has grossly underestimated them. They dig through newspapers in search of negative press about their team.

“Those know-it-alls over at The Daily Utah Chronicle think we’re soft. Men, are we soft?”

“No!”

Kyle Whittingham has had it easy. He hasn’t had to dig too deep this year to enhance his pre-game speeches. In fact, the Utah head coach has had a couple of freebies fall into his lap.

He’s had Wyoming coach Joe Glenn guaranteeing victory, UNLV coaches laughing at the Utes’ once-porous rush defense and columnists telling them to cash in their chips. It’s too easy.

Make the guy work. Sheesh.

Last week, Glenn guaranteed a win at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Fifty points, an onside kick and a bird flip later, the boys in brown slunk back to Laramie, Wyo., humiliated and broken.

Got anything else to predict, coach? Prognosticate further, oh, wise one.

Whittingham played up Glenn’s guarantee like the guy had insulted his team’s manhood and spit on its grandmother’s grave.

It gave the Utes that extra edge. When Glenn promised a Cowboy victory, he handed Whittingham his pregame speech on a silver platter.

Sweet, precious motivation. The Utes will take all they can get.

After the Utes got shut out at UNLV, rumors started to circulate that Rebel coaches made jokes about Utah’s rush defense while studying the game film from the 27-0 blowout. Somehow, Utah’s defensive players got wind of the embarrassing insults. Needless to say, their egos took a hit.

Since then, the Utes have, for the most part, shut down opponents’ running games.

When Whittingham heard about the alleged mockery, he must’ve said something like, “How dare they! We’ll show them.”

Inwardly, he was thinking, “Jackpot! Keep it coming. I’ll use that any day of the week.”

After the losses to Oregon State and Air Force at the start of the season, the Salt Lake media declared that the Utes were doomed. Screwed. Kaput.

A cartoon in The Salt Lake Tribune depicted an injured Utah player being helped off the field. The back of the player’s jersey read, “’07 season.”

Talk about a grim assessment. The unflattering opinions about the Utes’ prospects have been a mixed blessing for the Utes.

In fact, ever since the media gave up on the team, it has made a 180-degree turn.

With that in mind, I say a few words to the team:

New Mexico is going to wipe the turf with you. You’re all a bunch of softies with no heart.

(I hope that helps, coach.)

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