Utah Utes head coach Brian Holman was interviewed at the university’s Fanfest event last night in Salt Lake City. The biggest piece of information he gave out was unveiling the team’s second game, which would be against the Mercer Bears at home on February 9. The rest of the schedule would be unveiled in early September, possibly a few days after Labor Day.
Holman also announced a fall scrimmage against the UMBC Retrievers at Tierney Field at US Lacrosse’s Headquarters. More on when that might be in a little bit.
Outside of unveiling a game and a scrimmage, Holman discussed a few things.
On the biggest challenge and reward of starting a program
“The challenges are what they are. We talked to our guys all the time about that. You want the challenges right? You want the hurdles and figure out how to cross them.
“I think in the grand scheme of things, one target that we’re constantly looking at is how do we get aligned with a conference and how do we put ourselves in a position to win a national championship because that’s why we’re here. We’re here to build a program that will be the elite program in all of college lacrosse and we’re here to compete for national championships.
“To do that, you got to schedule tough teams which we’re gonna do. I think the people in the lacrosse world will be happy and excited when our schedule comes out in September. And then it also helps to get align with a conference. I think that’s the biggest hurdle, but we have time before that comes.
“Recruiting has not been difficult. I don’t think it will be. We got to get people here, we got to get kids and their families to this university and to the state. And once they’re here and they look around and they get it. So that part’s really exciting and I love to recruit, my staff loves to recruit. We got to surround this program with quality, quality, quality people and the culture’s already been established. We’ve been lucky to have that club team for the last two years, so we feel like we have in-roads already into the culture, which to me it’s everything.
“And there’s an old saying, and I think I heard [football head coach] Kyle Whittingham say this, ‘Culture Precedes Performance.’ And that’s our biggest goal daily is to establish the right culture for Utah.”
The answers aren’t a big surprise whatsoever. Joining a conference was something Holman wanted to get done before the team’s first year as a varsity program, but that fell through. It’s also tough for a conference to add a team that’s geographically nowhere near the teams already in a conference.
As for recruiting, you get an entirely new landscape with the Rocky Mountains. You also have that with Denver and Air Force. Playing on Ute Field next year will offer a gorgeous view for fans at home and in person. I can’t wait to have Denver-Utah rivalry games in the future.
On the fall schedule
“Tryouts will start the day after Labor Day, so we’ll go Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, probably even into Saturday. Try to make that roster on Sunday and then get that out to the university and then spend that following week starting to get that team acclimated to the next step.
“We’ll practice all the way through October the 20th. We have a scrimmage in Baltimore against UMBC at the US Lacrosse Headquarters and then we start to taper off a little bit at the end of October right up to exams and then we’re off until the season starts.”
Let’s get to the scrimmage. Holman mentioned practicing until October 20th but didn’t specify when the UMBC scrimmage would be. If you take a look at the Tierney Field game schedule, there’s a men’s college event set for that date. So it’s safe to say Utah-UMBC will be on October 20.
As for the rest of the fall schedule, that’s a typical fall for a college lacrosse team. Most teams practice up until the final fall scrimmage before they lighten up until the week before exams. In the fall period, teams have a total of eight hours per week to practice, conditioning, or watch film. Some teams might give their players a week off after the final scrimmage.
On what to expect for 2019
“It’s beyond my wildest dreams. And the one thing I think people will learn about me and my staff again, I just love this sport. It’s meant everything in my life and passion is one of our pillars. And we believe that you can accomplish anything with passion, but you’re not accomplishing anything without it. And that’s our approach with our guys and we want our team to play that way and we want them involved in the community and we’re gonna have fun.
“We’re gonna play fast, we’re gonna get up and down the field. What do I have to lose, nobody expects us to win a game. We’re going to play free and easy, we’re excited.”
Maybe if they weren’t Utah I’d agree. But Vermont and Mercer are two teams the Utes could possibly get wins from, Mercer more than Vermont. I’d be shocked if they went .500 in their first year, but they should have a decent first year as a varsity program.
You can watch the entire interview below.