This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
The bowl game status of one of Utah's captains and senior defensive backs: "To be determined."
Utah coach Kyle Whittingham repeated the phrase a number of times when asked about Dominique Hatfield. On Saturday, the senior tweeted that he had a "99 percent chance" of not playing in the Foster Farms Bowl against Indiana on Dec. 28. On Monday after practice, Whittingham, at the very least, kept that one percent in play.
Hatfield deleted the tweet later in the day. He was not seen after practice on Monday afternoon.
The Los Angeles native played in nine games at cornerback this year for Utah, recording 30 tackles, an interception and four pass breakups. He's one of three senior at his position who will be graduating this year.
Whittingham would only clarify that it was not a legal or academic problem that puts Hatfield's status in question, but a team issue. He didn't put on any conditions on when Hatfield will be able to rejoin the team or practice, only "to be determined" and that he "is working through some things."
Reached by phone over the weekend, Hatfield said he remains on the team, and he deleted the tweet because "it was only for entertainment."
Hatfield has had off-field issues before: He had a troubled offseason in 2015, once arrested on aggravated robbery charges that were dropped, and then on assault charges to which he entered a guilty plea in abeyance. When he was voted a team captain this year, Whittingham held up Hatfield as an example of a player "doing all the things we've asked him to do."
Freshman cornerback Julian Blackmon wouldn't comment on Hatfield's status for the game or for practice, but said only he hopes that he'll be available.
"He's a great player," Blackmon said. "I'm glad that I've gotten to learn from him this year."
Williams talks injury
The mysterious brace that was on Troy Williams' left knee from the Cal game on has been explained, although there isn't all that much mystery to it.
The junior quarterback finally felt comfortable enough to talk about an MCL sprain he played through for most of the season, after a Monday practice when he wasn't wearing a brace during interviews.
It came during the USC game, in which Williams went on to lead the game-winning drive: He finished with 270 yards passing and two touchdowns, and added another rushing touchdown. But he said the injury went on to affect his confidence rushing.
"My knee, it wasn't really a big issue, I just felt like I probably lost a little explosiveness," he said. "I'm not making any excuses. I felt like I should've run the ball more."
Williams has 2,579 yards and 15 touchdowns passing already the most of any Utah quarterback since Brian Johnson in 2008 and added 246 rushing yards with five touchdowns through 12 games. While he was touted as a dual-threat quarterback out of high school, coaches downplayed the rushing aspect of his game coming into the year.
But Williams thinks for the next level, he has to get more comfortable and confident when it comes to tucking and running ahead.
"I need to work on being more of a threat in the run game," he said. "Making smarter decisions in the red zone. I want to become a lot better in the red zone offense for next year, and if I can make just a couple of adjustments in the run game and make smarter decisions, we'll be a lot better as a team."
Williams said he's undecided on if he'll wear a brace in the bowl game.
Support for McCaffrey?
Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey made national waves on Monday morning by announcing that he will skip the Sun Bowl, leaving Stanford without a first-team all-Pac-12 running back against North Carolina on Dec. 30. Cardinal head coach David Shaw supported McCaffrey as he looks to stave off injury ahead of entering the 2017 NFL Draft.
He's the second big name so far this bowl season to pass on the postseason, along with LSU running back Leonard Fournette. Several Utes expressed some surprise, but had understanding.
"I know a guy like that, that's their whole offensive focus point," senior receiver Tim Patrick said. "He's probably thinking in his head that he doesn't want to get hurt knowing he's going to get a lot of touches in a game that's not really going to matter much to his team. I don't really mind it. I would play, personally."