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Home Stretch — Episode 10: Utah Football’s Performance in the Las Vegas Bowl

In this episode, podcast hosts Kyle Garrison chats with Brooke Hale and Stevie Shaughnessey about how Utah did in the Las Vegas Bowl against Northwestern, and what factors contributed to the outcome of this game.
Mary Allen
(Design by Mary Allen | The Daily Utah Chronicle)


Kyle Garrison: Hi and welcome back to Home Stretch. My name is Kyle and I’ll be your host today. Today I’m here with Stevie and Brooke to talk about Utah’s performance in the Las Vegas bowl and how this game is going to set up next year’s season. Hi, guys, and welcome to the podcast. Brooke, I know you have some questions if you want to get us started.

Brooke Hale: Yeah, just to start us off, what are your guys’s thoughts about how the game went?

Kyle Garrison: Yeah, so in my opinion, considering the opt-outs for the draft and the transfer portal, I wasn’t expecting this to be a blowout. I was expecting us to win. However, I think that we had a better roster from top to bottom, but I believe that they had quite a few less players opt out of the bowl game than we did, and that obviously ended up being a huge factor in the final score of this one. I thought our defense looked really solid, obviously, only allowing 14 points. You’d think that allowing 14 points in a bowl game is very solid, especially against a good Big 10 team. Our run game was not established early and I think that hurt our offense a lot. Stevie, do you have anything to add about the game?

Stevie Shaughnessey: Yeah, a lot of similar things. One thing I noticed is that it just didn’t seem like the team was playing together. It seemed that they’re all on their own separate missions, had their own things going on in their mind. It just seemed that they weren’t really in it to win it. 

Kyle Garrison: Yeah, I agree. I think that Northwestern came out and had more to prove and I think they just wanted this one more. I think it meant more to their program than it did to ours, and I think that’s why they played a little bit harder, had some more guys stay in playing in the game instead of opting out and ended up obviously coming away with the win in this one.

Brooke Hale: Do you guys think the transfer portal draft affected this game specifically for Utah?

Kyle Garrison: Yeah, I really do. Obviously, you know, Jonah Ellis, Sione Vaki, Cole Bishop, didn’t play because they are declared for the draft. And then guys like Mikey Matthews, they entered the transfer portal prior to the game and then guys like Ja’Quinden Jackson ended up transferring right after. I think there was just a lot of guys who were uncertain about their future at Utah and it made them, obviously they’re going to play their heart out. Kyle Whittingham’s a coach that, you know, any guy would want to run through a wall for, but I think some guys just had in the back of their mind, just a little bit of uncertainty about the future and maybe it affected you know, how committed they were to really fully playing in the game and you know, giving it their all.

Brooke Hale: I 100% agree with you. I think some players, maybe in the back of their head, if they’re thinking about going into the portal, it’s like, are they fully there, are they fully wanting to win for Utah in that game when they’re thinking about maybe leaving. I think that could be a really hard position to be in.

Stevie Shaughnessey: I think with that too, like, it’s also obvious, not just from like the team itself having conflict, but other people on the outside. I mean, everyone watching that game could tell that they were not there. Everyone had their own things on their mind. I mean, obviously Northwestern capitalized off of them being not so put together and them just all being in their own heads, so I think that definitely affected the game.

Brooke Hale: What do you guys think about Bryson Barnes starting while in the transfer portal?

Kyle Garrison: Yeah, so I’ve had a couple of weeks obviously to process that decision and I totally understand where Kyle Whittingham is coming from playing him the whole game, starting him. He was thrown into such a – such a hard role. Obviously, coming off of two just dominant years by Cam Rising and then having to kind of try and fill those shoes as Cam wasn’t playing this year, that’s a really hard position to be in as a walk-on. I don’t think it’s an easy position to do as at any, if you’re a four-star or five-star coming in. I think it’s really hard to come in and play for a team like Utah with a lot of expectations. So I think that Whit playing him, he understands that he’s just a kid and he also, he knows he needs tape as well because he was in the transfer portal, and I think that he was giving him another shot to kind of prove that he, you know, he belongs as a Division One starter, so.

Brooke Hale: With the score only being 7-14 Northwestern, do you guys think that there will be a huge offensive change this next year?

Stevie Shaughnessey: Yeah, I think that, not maybe a huge offensive change, but it was definitely obvious that they weren’t on their offensive game. Whit said, this is more about their defense, but Whit said that their defense didn’t tackle very well and that he takes the blame for not having them as prepared. And with their defense, sorry, with their offense, only Utah, they only gained 34 yards in the first quarter and 25 in the second, 48 in the third, and then they had a 104 yard outburst in the final quarter that got them past 200 total for the game. That’s definitely not as good as Utah usually does, and I think they’re definitely gonna focus on, you know, getting the team better prepared in the future for next year and having the offense always be top tier.

Kyle Garrison: Yeah, no, I agree. I think that we, we looked pretty lackluster throughout the entirety of the year on offense. I mean, we’ve had some luxuries the past two years, being able to watch Cam Rising and Dalton Kincaid and Britain Covey and just some explosive guys make some explosive plays, and so I think that having Cam back obviously changes the entire dynamic of the offense. I mean Ludwig, Ludwig has shown that his playbook is pretty, pretty well fit for a guy like Cam Rising to be able to use his legs, be able to roll out, be able to utilize his tight ends, and be able to kind of have that run-pass option. So I think having him back next year completely opens up the offense more. I think Bryson Barnes was more of a pocket passer, and under pressure, he wasn’t as great as Cam Rising is. So, expect to see a lot of Cam Rising moving around, using his legs. He’s had a whole year to nurse up that ,that knee injury and I think he’s gonna be ready to go and just as explosive if not more than he has been in the past.

Brooke Hale: How do you think the team staff are feeling going into the Big 12 now?

Stevie Shaughnessey: I mean, I think that obviously, it was sort of like a rocky end to the year. But, I think that they’re excited going into the year with having Cam back and having all these new recruits. We have Isaac Wilson coming in. I think that everyone’s excited. I mean, we just had a new recruit come on the team just the other day. I forget his name. I’ll look for it. But yeah, I think everyone’s excited to see what we can do. We’re going into a new conference, we’re having some new recruits coming on, big change in team dynamic coming up. Yeah, anything you want to add Kyle?

Kyle Garrison: Yeah, I just mean the entire dynamic of college football is completely changing now. It’s kind of becoming, you know, a couple super conferences instead of the power five dynamic that it used to be, and I think it’s pretty cool to see Utah go in and play, play some teams that they still play in the Pac-12, like Arizona and Colorado, and then you also, we also get an opportunity to beat up on BYU which I, for one, it cannot be happier about. So, I also think just the Big 12 defenses are a little bit different than the Pac-12 defenses. The Pac-12 offense is pretty West Coast style, and the Pac-12 defenses are, you know, built to defend against that pro-style air raid offense. But, the Big 12 is more ground and pound, but still put up points, and I think it’s, I think we’re in a good spot because we are a defense that’s a bend-don’t-break. We will give up those little 12-yard out-routes or we’ll give up like a seven yard run, but we’re not going to be giving up those 30, 40 yard bombs and I think that it’s gonna be hard for Big 12 teams to really move the ball against us. I don’t think they’re used to facing the defense like ours, and then on the offensive side, I don’t think that a lot of teams are used to playing against an offense like ours where we just smash it down every single play and just wear you out and so by the second half, you’re just exhausted and tired, and we just end up breaking on you and just pushing on you until you can’t hold us back anymore. So, I’m excited about it.

Brooke Hale: Yeah, me too. I’m really excited to see like, obviously, we have won the Pac-12 two years in a row and now moving in a different conference, it’s going to be super exciting to see how we actually do with the new recruits coming in, and I think it’s an exciting thing for not just the players and the staff, but also the fans. Just wrapping up here and you guys have any last thoughts?

Kyle Garrison: I mean, not, not specifically with the, with the game. I know that for a lot of Utah fans, that was a little disappointing to see. We definitely didn’t play like we had been playing all year. I think that, I think that we were the better team on paper. But obviously, that’s why they play the games. So, I think that it’s a big wake up call though for this team going in next year that you know, we are, we were dominant the past two years and sometimes getting a little reality check, kind of getting sent back down to earth a little bit, makes the team tighter, makes everybody realize, “Hey, we gotta lock in. This isn’t, this isn’t just any fun and games anymore. We’re not just gonna roll through the conference like we had in the past two years.” So, I’m excited that this is kind of the way the season ended. I think it’s gonna set the tone for next year.

Stevie Shaughnessey: Yeah, I’m personally very excited to see how the MUSS and the student section are against these new teams, especially like BYU. It’s going to be a great atmosphere, I think. I’m really excited to see the, you know, team rally and everything come back together. I think it’s going to be an awesome year.      

Stevie Shaughnessey: Awesome. Hey, thanks so much, Stevie and Brooke, thanks for coming on the show. Thank you for listening to Home Stretch, The Daily Utah Chronicle’s sports podcast. Stay tuned for new episodes coming every week.


Transcribed by

Producer: Stevie Shaughnessey —  [email protected]   | @steviechrony

Hosts: Kyle Garrison — [email protected] | @Kylegarr23

Brooke Hale — [email protected]  | @brookehale_

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About the Contributors
Stevie Shaughnessey, Home Stretch Producer, Host
Stevie is a junior transfer student at the U who is majoring in communications with an emphasis in journalism, and minoring in documentary studies. In her free time, Stevie likes to take part in many different activities, such as dirt bike riding, snowboarding and photography.
Kyle Garrison, Sports Writer
Kyle garrison grew up in Spring Lake, Michigan. He moved to Salt Lake City to pursue a degree in communications with an emphasis in journalism. Kyle plans on pursuing broadcast journalism as a career once graduating from the University of Utah. Kyle started with the Chronicle this fall and has loved every minute of working with the team.
Brooke Hale, Home Stretch Host
Brooke Hale joined the Daily Utah Chronicle’s Sports Desk Podcast as a producer in the spring of 2024. She is studying Communications at the University of Utah. She recently completed her D1 soccer career at the U. She grew up in Danville, California. In her free time, she loves watching all sports, being outdoors, working out and traveling.
Mary Allen, Design Director
(she/her) Born and raised in Salt Lake City, Mary is thrilled to be here at the University of Utah studying graphic design. She feels very lucky to get to rub shoulders with the talented people that make up the team here at the Chronicle and is learning a lot from them every day. Other than making things look cute, Mary’s passions include music, pickleball, Diet Coke, wildlife protection, and the Boston Red Sox.

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