The University of Utah fans are a relentless people when it comes to social media. And game day. And pretty much anything to do with their Utes.
So when ESPN announced that College GameDay would be in Salt Lake City next weekend for the No. 5 Utah vs. No. 22 California game, it about broke all the Utes digital media portals.
New hashtags were formed, GameDay plans were made and press conferences were held. And Cal head coach Sonny Dykes unknowingly sparked a fire deep within the MUSS with seven little words, taken out of context from an original quote.
“I told them (his team) before we played Texas, ‘I’ve never seen a crowd score a touchdown, never seen a crowd make a tackle – I saw a band almost make a tackle here many years ago but you know you haven’t seen those things,” said Dykes in a press conference Tuesday. “And again, it’s better for our guys to just worry about doing their job and playing the game the way they are supposed to play and all the other stuff will take care of itself.”
Utah fans took this tweet and ran with it like one of their beloved Devontae Booker’s 398 career carries.
— Emily Van Buskirk (@Emilnem) October 6, 2015
The responses from Utah fans ranged from angry to indignant to those who saw it as a call to action.
For those of you unfamiliar with the MUSS, it stands for “Mighty Utah Student Section” and it is derived from the school fight song lyrics “No other gang of college men dare meet us in the muss.” And it is LOUD. So much so that the students have a tradition concerning false starts. The line of “fives” hanging in front of the MUSS section refers to the False Start Tally. Whenever the opposing team is charged with a false start, the MUSS hangs a numeral five in front of its section indicating a five-yard penalty.
Cal players, consider yourselves warned.
Although, when Dykes spoke about the atmosphere in Sack Lake City, he acknowledged that he has never coached there before, but is encouraged by his team’s ability to play well in big, loud stadiums this season.
“The thing I like about our team – you know we’ve played on the road, we’ve played in Texas in front of 90,000 fans, we’ve played in Seattle in front of 70 or 80,000, we’ve played in tough, hostile environments and the guys have performed well and they’ve stayed focused. They have done a nice job of worrying about what they can control, which is again their performance and doing their job the best they can, so I would expect the same this week. I’ve never coached in Salt Lake City, I hear it’s a loud stadium – I’m sure it’s going to be a great atmosphere but again that’s not something that our players need to worry about.”
Fan chatter aside, the actual matchup is more than exciting and the 8:15 pm MT start means there will be some guaranteed #Pac12AfterDark shenanigans in Rice-Eccles this Saturday.
Dykes believes the key to Cal’s success lies in the takeaways. “We gotta create turnovers – that’s something that we have done all year, our guys have played really hard and run to the ball well and done the things that give you a chance to get turnovers and that trend needs to continue Saturday,” said Dykes in the presser.
Cal leads the nation with 18 turnovers gained and the Bears’ eight fumble recoveries tied for the most in the country and 10 interceptions tied for second. The defense also ranks first in the Pac-12 in total sacks (18.0) and sacks per game (3.60), which ranks them tied for sixth and seventh nationally, respectively. Utah, on the other hand, has allowed just one sack, which is tied for third in the nation and leads the Pac-12. Offensive line play, like in any Pac-12 contest, will be the key to either team walking away with the W.
With so many aspects of the game to worry about, crowd control clearly wasn’t high on Dykes’ list of concerns. But the MUSS may change that as Utah fans will attempt to be the first crowd to score a touchdown that Sonny has ever seen.
Sports writer. Avid fan, former player, once-upon-a-time coach, reluctant referee. I do digital media things with my friends. I also jinx kickers. Bay Area born & raised.