Utah’s Mohamoud Diabate reflects on the season and his focus on the Rose Bowl

(Photo: USA TODAY Sports)

 

As we draw near to Utah’s matchup against Penn State in the 109th Rose Bowl game, linebacker Mohamoud Diabate has played a major role in the program’s second straight-title winning run and that will need to be the case again when they kickoff on January 2nd.

Coming to Utah from Florida as a transfer last year, Diabate joined the program with aspirations and goals. “I feel like we had a good year, we were able to achieve some of the things, dealt with some things that I felt like were on the table, but it was definitely satisfactory,” Diabate described in his media day availability.

While he acknowledged the rewarding feeling of what they’ve achieved thus far, he reiterated the fact one major goal remains unfinished. “Satisfying to be here but to to win it is exactly what we want, so we have to be able to finish what our goal was, which is to win the Rose Bowl, not just to be here.”

Diabate obviously came here with goals to help the program achieve great things and maximize his potential as an individual. The transition wasn’t easy but Diabate recognizes how beneficial that process has been to his game and the defensive development. “It was definitely a challenge,” Diabate acknowledged. “Utah does a lot of difficult things – that’s why we’re able to have some schemes that maximize what we’re good at as players. It was definitely a tough transition but it was worth it in the end.”

Though the acclimation was tough in one sense, the people around him made that difficult transition much easier. “As time has went on it’s become easier and it wasn’t nearly as hard as anyone would have imagined just because the coaches and the players, everybody has helped me get to this point.”

That comfort level and improvement in Diabate grew more evident as the season went on. He has 11 starts at linebacker this season, where he’s amassed 52 tackles, including a team-high 12.5 tackles for loss. and 5.0 sacks. His play this season has earned him an invitation to the East West Shrine Game, which is for many of the top NFL Draft prospects.

As one of the older, more experienced players coming into the year, he proved to be a productive presence on the defensive side of the ball. More than the numbers, Diabate was counted on to help lead a still fairly young and inexperienced unit this season. Though the defensive didn’t have the strongest start, the progress they made was undeniable. “I feel like at the end of the season we got exactly where we wanted to be, especially with the game we had versus USC,” he shared. “To be able to win the Pac-12 Championship, we’re still building on that. We haven’t let up – after that performance we weren’t like okay, we’re good enough. We’re continuing to improve, continuing to add things to our game and to our play so we can become better as a unit and better as individuals.”

With the Pac-12 title secured, Diabate has been very clear that job isn’t done just yet for Utah and the goal on Monday remains the same.

“Just win. You know, just being here really isn’t enough for us. We had a long journey to win the Pac-12 Championship together, put some good memories in the bank, but now it’s time to finish it and put the icing on the cake. I just want to go out here with the guys, fight our butts off and win. That’s it. That’s our main goal is to win, leave here with a victory.”

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