Whittingham quotes from weekly press conference

Happy days are here again, but will they last? Whittingham held his weekly press conference and discussed the Louisville game and Utah's next opponent, San Diego State. This is what he had to say.

We had a nice win at Louisville. It was good to get a solid performance like that from our offense. That was the most encouraging thing about the win. Our offensive production was solid across the board. Brian Johnson played well. He's finally starting to shake off all of the rust from being sidelined for nearly two years now. He's been playing at 90 percent, and if there are no setbacks, then we expect him to be at 100 percent in the next couple of weeks.

The offense played well. But how much of that was Louisville's meager defense? If Utah can have another offensive performance like Friday this Saturday, they might just have turned the corner.

The Louisville game was a tale of two halves, defensively. We held one of the most potent offenses to just seven points in the first half. And, in the second half, we didn't look so hot. Brian Brohm started to play better and they finished with 467 yards passing. Fortunately, we had enough in the tank to secure the win.

I'm glad Whittingham isn't ignoring some issues on defense. The Utes looked great in the first half on the defensive end, but really struggled stopping Brohm in the second. And while Louisville has a fantastic offense, that is no excuse for Utah allowing them to go off like they did. Luckily, Utah had just enough in them to stem the tide.

On special teams, Louie Sakoda did well for us. He had a solid game punting, and he put the game out of reach with his 46-yard field goal in the fourth quarter. He did miss the first extra point of his career but that wasn't his fault. The ball was sideways and it's hard to kick it that way. Louie was named the Mountain West Conference Special Teams Player of the Week and he was deserving of it after the effort he gave.

Sakoda has clearly been the MVP of this team. It does suck, though, he missed his first career PAT. But I think he more than made up for it with that 46-yard field goal that pretty much put the game out of reach.

Some things we need to work on this week: we left four points on the field at the end of the first half. Brian Johnson did a great job of moving the team in the final minute, but he wasn't able to finish it. He completed a pass in-bounds, thinking we still had one timeout left, and the clock ran out on us.

That meltdown at the end of the first half nearly cost Utah the game. If the Utes had been able to get a touchdown, or even a FG, that would pretty much have ended any chance of a Louisville comeback. But since they didn't, the Cardinals got within one score of Utah twice in the second half and that one score was only 6 points -- meaning a touchdown and extra point would have won it for them. Hopefully the team can get their mismanaged sideline issues fixed for this doesn't happen again.

On San Diego State

This week, we're back in conference play as we have San Diego State. The Aztecs are coming off of a big win at Colorado State. They are a typical San Diego State football team.

Typical as in...bad?

They are 1-0 in the conference so their season is just beginning for them. Our games with them have been competitive in the past. As long we keep this momentum going, keep preparing like we have been, and take a lot passion in to this week's game, then we should be ready for them.

San Diego State got a nice win on the road against CSU, but the Rams are awful. Now it's up to Utah to not UNLV up this game.

On the first half of the season

We were disappointed by the play early in the season. But, that has improved. We're getting a lot of our injured guys back, but the guys that were pressured into action because of injuries did a great job for us. They became good players.

We're 3-3 and we don't have all the answers, and we have some deficiencies that we need to clear up. But, lately, I've been encouraged by what I've seen from the team.

On offense, things are heading in a positive direction across the board. On defense, I didn't say this earlier, but they did an excellent job against Louisville's run game. They turned Louisville into a one-dimensional team, and we got them out of whack. I think our defense is tackling better now, but we need to get better at our pass rush.

Most fans thought Utah would be 3-3 at the halfway point, but not many expected Utah to go 3-1 in out of conference play. And if they did, I'm sure none thought they would be 0-2 in conference play. If Utah can finish the season 5-1 or better, I will feel pretty good about this year. And while TCU, Wyoming, New Mexico and BYU all could be losses, if Utah plays up to their talent level, they should win most -- if not all -- those games. If they continue their sporadic play, they probably won't win more than 6 games.

On returning to conference play

Nothing changes in our approach as we get ready to face another conference opponent. We're an excellent practicing team and that's not going to change just because we're going to face a conference opponent this weekend. We didn't play well in the first two league games, so we're going to go out there this weekend and change that.

Utah needs this win. If they don't get it, well then damn 'em. But I'm confident they will...so we'll see, I guess.

Obviously Whittingham is optimistic, but he sounded very optimistic after the UCLA game, too. We know how that turned out. Regardless, go Utes!

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