Whittingham quotes from weekly press conference

Utah is 1-0, ranked and looking for a bit of revenge this week. Whittingham discussed that and more in his weekly press conference Monday.

Opening statement:
Getting a win at Michigan is a good start to the season. We had a bunch of fans there, which was a great demonstration of the support for our team. Players and coaches appreciated that very much.

In the game itself, there were a lot of positives. We came away with a win. The defense was consistent from start to finish and they really controlled the game. Our offense was extremely efficient in the first half. They did a great job moving the football. In the second half, Michigan turned up the pressure and we didn't respond very well. We have begun addressing that. Louie Sakoda did a great job. We had some protection issues in the kicking game, but when he could get the kicks off, he was lights out as usual. It was just another day at the office for Louie.

Overall it was a positive win and a great experience. You can't put it into words what it's like to come out of that tunnel and have 108,000 people on top of you. It was an electric atmosphere and something we will never forget, but we have shifted our focus entirely to UNLV, and that's where we are.

This week is our home and conference opener. Every conference game is important and it's important to get started on the right foot. We need to stoop the run more effectively than last year. If you can't stop the run, everything else is difficult.

Health-wise, our only significant loss was Kenape Eliapo. He is out 6-8 weeks. Several players are questionable: Corbin LouksZane Beadles and Robert Johnson. They are day-to-day and we will make a final decision on that later this week. 

Nothing earth shattering here, though the injuries do suck. Louks went down on that touchdown play early in the game and is an important factor for Utah's offense because you never know what will happen with Brian Johnson. Plus, as you saw against Michigan, the Utes still run plays for him.

Even though the injuries sting, they could have been worse, as Ute fans found out last year in their opener against Oregon State. So in that regard, the team lucked out. 

On learning the team moved into the rankings:
It is still early in the season. I am pleased for our players because they deserve the recognition. I am focused on UNLV - but the accolades are nice for our guys.

Glad to see the team is focused on UNLV, especially after last week. Now they just need to come out and play focused and the Utes should easily start the season 2-0. It's also great to finally be back in the top-25, as it's been a few years since the Utes cracked the rankings. With how the schedule breaks, they have a good chance of padding that ranking in the coming weeks before really getting tested. 

On the offense against Michigan:
Michigan had as much to do with it as anything. Their defense is a very good defense. We were on pace to put up outlandish numbers. The pace we set in first half was blistering. In the second half, it was a combination of them making adjustments and our level of execution dropping off. That all led to a dismal second half. We turned the ball over a few times - that disappointed me the most. Ball security and taking care of the football are important. We turned it over twice, once in red zone and another time in critical point in game. It was not good - we have got to take care of the ball.

Yes, I believe Michigan's defense will be the toughest and most talented defense Utah faces this season. They really wore Utah down in the second half and it showed. 

It's good to see Whittingham address the turnovers, because they can kill your chances. Utah lucked out, as Michigan couldn't produce on offense outside of short fields created by Ute turnovers. This is something they probably will work on in practice and hopefully they cut down on them against UNLV.

On UNLV:
Frank Summers is the majority of their run game. He had a good weekend against Utah State. They have two good receivers, Ryan Wolfe and Casey Flair. There are a lot of new faces on defense, but beyond a new quarterback, most of their offense is the same cast of characters as last year. Frank did a lot of damage last year.

Summers is going to be the focal point of UNLV's offense and after getting burned by him last year, the Utes should be ready. Their run defense looks improved and I'd be shocked if he dominated for nearly 200 yards like last year. If Utah shuts him down, the Rebels' offense will falter and the game should be in control rather easily and fairly early. 

Utah's coming off a huge win and we saw what happened last year when they played UNLV, because of this, I expect them to be fired up and ready to go. This game could get ugly for UNLV if Utah doesn't shoot themselves in the foot like they did last year.

Here's video of the press conference. 

 

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