Today Whittingham held his first press conference of the season and talked a lot about the upcoming game with UCLA. Instead of posting the entire thing, here's just a few of his quotes.
"We've got our work cut out for us with UCLA. They're a very good football team ... 10-2 last year with one of those losses to national champ runner-up USC. They had a big win in their bowl game. They're athletic and they're fast. They lost some key players, as did we. They're breaking in a new quarterback - Bel Olson - ironically enough, who started his career down south at the Y. It's his first collegiate start. He hasn't seen a lot of action in the last five years. So it has been a while since he's performed under fire. There are a couple new coordinators for UCLA. Openers are always best-guess scenario anyway. But with two new coordinators, it makes it even more so. The offensive coordinator came from in-house, which gives us a little more predictability. The defensive coordinator comes from the Washington Redskins. It is his first time as a coordinator, so there's no tape to go on. We're not sure what schemes he's going to present to us."
Whittingham showing respect to UCLA and their 10-2 season last year. He does seem concerned about their unknowns, especially when it comes to their two new coordinators.
"Our M.O. will still be to bring pressure. That has been the case for several years now. We're not going to deviate from that. We are who we are defensively and it has been a successful recipe. With that, you still have to pick your spots and you can't be careless. You have to be intelligent how you go about your blitz packages."
That's what I like to hear! Pressure Olson early on and force him into a couple mistakes. If Utah can get into his head, UCLA's offense will find it very difficult to succeed against a strong Utah defense.
"Defense is a different issue. We've collected all the tape where Coach (DeWayne) Walker has been. Most recently, he was with the Washington Redskins. He's been at USC and had several stops at some really good places. Again, that's best-guess scenario because he has not been a coordinator yet. So what he's going to put together and what he likes, personally, we're going to have to wait until game time to find out."
This might be the Bruins biggest advantage, since the Utes offense has little to go on when it comes to planning their schemes around UCLA's defense. With that said, it also might be a hindrance since if the Bruins are implementing a new defense, it might take time for players to adjust. If that's the case, Utah might benefit from a confused defense struggling to find its footing early on.
"A couple series. You can tell in a couple series what the basic premise of what they're doing is. Certainly by the end of the first quarter, you better have a very good idea."
And with that, Utah will have a good feeling at where UCLA's defense is going after the first few series of the game. It wouldn't surprise me if Utah deferred the kick return and played defense on the first possession of the game.
"Our receiver corp ... I've been bragging about those guys since the spring. I feel the same now as I did then. It is an outstanding, young, gifted, fast group of guys. Is it going to be an advantage for us? Having fast receivers is an advantage. Team speed-wise, it is going to be a good matchup. I'm not sure we'll have a speed advantage. But it is certainly an advantage to have a fast group of wide receivers."
Utah's offense should have little difficulty penetrating UCLA's secondary if the Utes O-line holds long enough for Ratliff to get a good look at his receivers. Coaches seem pumped as do the players, let's just hope they come out of the Rose Bowl 1-0.