- Kevin Gemmell, ESPN Staff Writer
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Trevor Reilly, Utah's dynamic linebacker, took some time to chat with the Pac-12 blog this week about the Utes' postseason hopes, the challenges of transitioning to the Pac-12 and the joys of being a dad and a football player.
Give me a feel for the pulse of the team right now after the loss to USC.
Trevor Reilly: I think as a unit, we're trying to come together and play better defense. We didn't play great defense last week. We gave up too many big plays and they did too well in the passing game. As a team, I think the attitude is forget about last week. One win can change the whole thing. We get back to .500 and get back in hunt for the South.
You guys have had so much adversity since joining the Pac-12. Is it fair to judge the program just based off what we've seen in the last year and a half?
TR: The saying we have around here is nobody cares. We really don't. Yeah, we've had some bad breaks and if you want to judge us off of that, that's fine. Whatever.
You caught the tail end of the Mountain West era. What's been the toughest part about adjusting to the Pac-12 as a defensive player?
TR: In the Mountain West, a bad team was a bad team. You rarely, rarely ever saw a bad team beat a good team. But in the Pac-12 it can happen any week. A team could have a bad record but they could still beat you. That happened to us last year against Colorado. I think that's the biggest difference. I don't want to call any [Mountain West] teams out, I'll just go out on a limb and say there's probably a little more talent in this league than in the Mountain West.
How confident are you guys that you can still make the postseason?
TR: Pretty confident. If we win games we'll turn this ship around. We were in the same spot last year. We win some games like we did last year we'll be in it until the very end.
As a defense you guys are last in the conference in interceptions, second to last in pass efficiency. We're not used to talking about Utah being last in some defensive statistical categories. What has to change?
TR: I think we just have to make plays. We've had opportunities to have picks last game. We had two chances at interceptions and we dropped both of them. I think a better pass rush would help with efficiency. I think making plays for everybody, not just the secondary, but the linebackers putting pressure on the QB will help get us out of the cellar in some of the categories.
One thing about coach [Kyle] Whittingham is he doesn't let people get down on themselves. How has he kept you guys motivated so that one loss doesn't beat you two weeks in a row?
TR: He's been staying positive. You can't do anything about what happened last week. So we stay positive and look at the next game like it's going to be the best one we've ever played. That attitude rubs off on the guys. We just have to make it happen. We have to make plays when they come.
Who gets the job of spying UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley this week?
TR: Well, I'm sure we'll pass it around. I don't want to divulge too much information. Hopefully we'll have it covered.
For you personally, what are some of the things you like about your season and what are some things you want to improve on?
TR: I've had too many missed tackles. That's something I've always prided myself on. I've had more this year than in my whole career. I need to improve on that. I think I'm getting to the quarterback OK. But I could do better. Hopefully you'll see me in the backfield a little more.
You just had baby No. 2. A big congrats from the Pac-12 blog. How challenging is it to do the dad-husband-football thing?
TR: It's hard. But if you're going to do what I do and what [some of the other guys] on the team do that have families, you've got to have strong wives. And I think that's the case with a lot of the guys on the team that have familes. We're gone most of the day. My wife is really the strong one. She takes care of those two and takes care of the house so I can focus on football and then when I get home it's time to help out.