Football: Taumoepenu is Ready for Arizona


University of Utah Football defense tackles BYU running back Jamaal Willliams (21) during the game vs. the Brigham Young University Cougars at Rice-Eccles Stadium on Saturday, September 10, 2016

By Emilee White

After an intense game against Cal over the weekend, the Utah football teams took its first defeat of the season from the Bears. The Utes also lost starting center J.J. Dielman, but team injuries don’t seem to scare senior Pita Taumoepenu.

“We have a lot of depth,” Taumoepenu said. “We have a lot of people on the team that step up and do the same thing.”

In order to right the wrongs they made over the weekend, Taumoepenu said that the defensive unit will need to fix a few mistakes they made against Cal, and hopefully it will allow them to make more plays in the future.

But even with the loss, head coach Kyle Whittingham is not discouraged from reaching the primary goals he set for the team in the beginning of the season.

For Whittingham, the primary goals were to win the Pac-12 South. So far, Colorado is the only team left who hasn’t lost a conference game, but Whittingham doesn’t see anyone going undefeated in the South. Whittingham added that two losses won it last year and three losses won it the year before.

“[The Pac-12 South] is very competitive and the loss against Cal does, by no means, do anything to eliminate that goal,” Whittingham said. “In fact, we still control our own destiny. Our destiny is still in our own hands and there is a ton of football left to focus on and figure out a way to beat Arizona.”

Along with his coach, Taumoepenu wants to win the Pac-12 South, and the goals he set for himself should help his team get to where they need to get.

“For me, I just want to be a big part of the team and make a lot of plays for them,” Taumoepenu said. “I want to help the team win the Pac-12 Championship.”

Now that they are on to Arizona, the Utes hope to correct the four-straight game loss against the Wildcats. According to Whittingham, the team’s new challenge is to figure out how to beat the Wildcats. Fortunately, that challenge is something that Taumoepenu has been waiting for.

“I’ve been waiting for a time like this,” Taumoepenu said. “I’m super excited for this game and I can’t wait to give my best. I feel like we are going to play hard this week.”

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