Bleeding Red: Last game for seniors as bowl hopes end

The milk has been spilled there’s no need to cry
The Utah Utes are just playing for pride
One more collegiate football game to play
Then some boys will be playing on Sunday

COMMENTARY — And then there was one — one more game and Utah’s season is over.

Of course, this comes as no surprise. Even before the loss to Washington State last week, I had already resigned myself to the fact that it was highly unlikely the Utes would be going bowling even if they had won out. Any lingering doubt has now been erased.

utahOnce again Utah turned the ball over early in the game and put itself in a hole on the scoreboard. Once again the Utes battled back and gave themselves a chance to win in the closing minutes of the game. Once again Utah just couldn’t quite get it done, losing their fifth game in a row.

Enough said about the past, now let’s move on to what is left of this season.

At this point, the Utes are just playing for pride as there is absolutely nothing on the line for either team going into this weekend’s match-up against Colorado. Both teams boast identical 4-7 records, with each team managing a single conference win thus far. While one of the teams will double the number of their conference wins this weekend, both teams will be sitting home during the holidays.

Notwithstanding the loss of their starting quarterback and the many other challenges faced by Utah to date, the Utes should have no problem dispatching the Buffaloes this weekend. Of course, that has been the case for the past two years, and Utah has only managed a split in those two games with the average margin of victory being a mere five points.

In spite of this team’s many deficiencies which have been exposed over the course of the season, the one thing Utah does not lack is heart. This Saturday we will have an opportunity to bid adieu to Utah’s seniors, and I’m betting that is all the motivation this team needs to take care of business and send their seniors off in style.

“This group of seniors is quality people,” Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said. “It’s all about the seniors and sending them out in the right way. If this crew was going to fold, they would have done so long ago. The objective (this week) is to try and send the seniors out on a positive note at home in their final game.”

Normally I would not spend much time talking about the seniors until after the last game. However, next week’s column will be devoted to making good on a bet I made with respect to Utah and BYU. I promise that next week’s column will be well worth reading for both Ute and Cougar fans, as Scott Young, who writes the “Blue Blood” column for the St. George News, will be helping me with my column.

Back to the task at hand: a salute to Utah’s top seniors.

I would like to acknowledge that there are a number of seniors on Utah’s roster, many of whom have turned in fine seasons. While I simply do not have the time or space to do justice to all of the senior Utes, I would like give some props to two seniors on each side of the ball.

Trevor Reilly
Trevor Reilly

At the top of the list is Trevor Reilly. This guy has a motor that just won’t stop, and it is going to propel him to the next level on a roster in the NFL. He has the versatility to play defensive end or outside linebacker, and he has excelled wherever the coaches have lined him up. His numbers this year speak for themselves—86 total tackles (52 solo), 15 tackles for loss (13 solo), 8.5 sacks (7 solo), and 3 fumble recoveries.

As much as I love the way Reilly plays the game, his character off of the field is just as impressive as his talent on the field. Reilly is married and his 1-year old daughter is battling cancer. Nobody knows better than Reilly that football is just a game. He also knows that football can be the means of supporting his family and providing the medical care his daughter needs.

With everything else going on in his life, I had the privilege of watching Trevor Reilly speak to a youth group the Sunday night after Utah lost to Arizona. Even after flying home late on Saturday night, Reilly was there on Sunday with his wit and humor, and his strong convictions, to inspire youth and be the role model that he knows he is.

A philosophical Reilly summed it up well at Monday’s press conference.

“I’ve never been one to take away moral victories from anything in life,” he said. The same holds true in football and in life, “If you don’t do what you are supposed to do, then you don’t win.”

Keith McGill
Keith McGill

Another senior standout on the defensive side of the ball has been cornerback Keith McGill. This is the first year McGill has started at cornerback, and the secondary was expected to be one of the defense’s biggest weakness. McGill is fourth in the Pac-12 in passes defended. He also has the big body and physical type of play that makes him very attractive to NFL teams.

Anthony Denham
Anthony Denham

Wide receiver Anthony Denham has been a reliable contributor on the offensive side of the ball. Although he has played primarily wideout for the Utes, his blocking skills and 6-foot-4 frame make him a candidate to play either wide receiver or tight end in the NFL.

Kelvin York
Kelvin York

Finally, senior running back Kelvin York has led a running back-by-committee approach that has given Utah a solid ground game. Of the four players highlighted, York has the slimmest chance of making an NFL roster, but he made the most of his collegiate career at Utah.

I wish all of Utah’s graduating seniors nothing but the best as they move on with their lives — some who will continue their football careers on the professional level and others who are about to go professional in a non-football occupation.

~

Dwayne Vance is a sports columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

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