A team meeting and a few days off have given the Utah Utes a new attitude.
The Utes, who host USC on Thursday, say they've put the 37-7 loss to Arizona State behind them.
"Everyone is fired up and ready for a shot on a national stage," quarterback Jon Hays said. "A loss [to ASU] like that stings, but we're moving on. It's all about USC."
Defensive lineman Dave Kruger said a team meeting on Monday helped the Utes regain their focus.
"We got the juniors and seniors together and talked about what we can do, what went wrong and if there were any off-the-field issues that needed to be addressed," he said. "There wasn't anything like that. People just need to get into their playbooks. Everyone felt they were trying to do too much and getting out of coverage to make a play, and in the long run we shot ourselves in the foot."
Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said he liked the team's attitude in the last two days of practice. The Utes were off Tuesday and Wednesday.
"It's part of the deal," he said. "Half the teams in the country are getting guys back and ready to play after a loss or tough loss. It's part of the deal and as a player and a coach you have to be resilient, and you can't ever let someone beat you twice. That is the deal: You have to shake off that loss and get ready for USC."
Defensive end/linebacker Trevor Reilly spent most of his time off with his daughter, Shayna Sailor, a 7-pound, 8-ounce girl who was born last Monday.
Reilly and his wife, Jessica, have another daughter, Nelli Ann Marie.
"Next we're having boys, twins or triplets," he said.
Kruger said there isn't a drop-off in talent with his brother, defensive end Joe, out of the lineup with a foot injury. However, he admitted it feels strange being on the field without him.
"I notice him being gone because I'm his brother and we compete against each other every day," he said.
Reilly and junior Niasi Leota are filling in for Kruger, who, along with offensive lineman Vyncent Jones (right knee), should be back for the USC game.
Having a bye before a Thursday game is new territory for the Utes, who are 6-1 after bye games under Whittingham.
The Utes had only two complete days off before starting their USC preparations on Thursday.
"It's definitely different from bye weeks of the past," Whittingham said.
"I can't ever remember coming off a bye and laying on a Thursday, and with that schedule we had to change some things up."
Keeping the faith
The Utes replaced John White with Kelvin York against ASU when the veteran was obviously struggling.
However, Whittingham expressed faith in his running back this week.
"I know he'll bounce back and respond," Whittingham said. "He is a proven commodity with his capabilities, and we know he was disappointed in his performance."