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Whittingham quotes from weekly press conference

Whittingham held his first weekly press conference of the season Monday. There he discussed Utah's game against Oregon State and the upcoming 2007 season.

It's finally here. We're three days away from the opener and we're excited. We had a good fall camp and we open the season against an extremely good opponent. They return the second-leading rushing in the Pac 10. He's not big but he's quick and he's fast. We're going to have our hands full, that's for sure.

Whittingham is talking about Yvenson Bernard, though it should be noted, Oregon State had a worse rushing attack last season than the Utes.

Will their receiver (Sammie Stroughter) play? We don't know. We're planning on that he plays. And, if he does, that makes them more potent.

It looks as if Stroughter won't play, as Oregon State head coach Mike Riley said he's definitely out for the Utah game. Though who knows if that is a ploy to throw Utah off.

We feel that our guys are ready to go. We've been erring on keeping our guys fresh during camp, and hopefully that pays dividends. Brian Johnson has looked sharp, and we have 10 returning starters on offense. The secondary was a big question going into camp and they've made strides. We've brought them as far along as we can as a coaching staff but now we need to get them in the game.

Firstly, I'm glad to see Whittingham isn't pushing these guys too hard. There is a fine line between being tough and being too tough. Last season Utah struggled against UCLA in the second half and that was attributed to the tough fall camp. They're hoping the team is fresher this season, which might end the midseason slumps we saw in 2005 and 2006.

Secondly, I hope the secondary does step up and that they have made great strides in camp. If the secondary struggles this season, it will spell trouble for Utah's young defense.

I know running back was another big question on this team. Right now, we're going to use Ray Stowers, Darryl Poston and Matt Asiata. Darrell Mack is going to redshirt this year. But, all three will get time in the backfield this weekend and the most efficient runner is going to the most carries.

Not a surprise, as I reported this already. I expect Asiata to get most of the touches, but we'll see.

We're going to rotate our running backs into the game. Whoever has the hot hand is who we're going to go with. Of course there are situational tactics that come into play too. Darryl Poston is good at pass protection so we will use him in those situations.

Matt Asiata hasn't had any live reps, and that has been because of the nature of his injury. But, I don't think that's going to affect him this week.

I don't expect to see Poston play as big of a role like he did last year. The fact Asiata hasn't had any live reps is a concern, but who knows how that will affect him against Oregon State.

On redshirting Darrell Mack

Darrell had a redshirt year still available and it made no sense to burn all of our running backs' eligibility all at once. It spaces our running backs out a bit. Plus, freshman Eddie Wide is going to see some time there this year.

I don't know what to make of this, but I'm excited to see what Eddie Wide can do. I've heard nothing but good things about him and it would be great if he had a successful freshman season.

We have a great attitude and this team has shown a lot of leadership and a lot of unity. In fact, I've seen more of that this year than I have seen in the last two years. They're a close-knit group. Will it mean more wins? I don't know. We're playing as a team, there are no individuals here. Of course, we have players with star appeal but everyone is playing together as a team.

I haven't seen one specific example of the team's leadership and unity. I've noticed the general relationship between all of the players. They all get a long and that's odd for a Division I team with its size. Usually you get cliques or there are a couple that clash. But, I haven't seen that at all with us.

I really hope he's right here. It seems the team was filled with a ton of discontent the past two years and that hurt our play. I'm not ready to jump on this bandwagon just yet, but here's to the team showing some great player leadership in '07.

It's a great time to have Brian Johnson back. However, it's not the Brian Johnson show. It takes 10 other guys to support him. We have a great offensive line in front of him. Zane Beadles has had a seamless transition to the offensive line, and Corey Seiuli is comfortable at guard. We have the right guys at the right spots. I think we have one of the best front lines.

Brian Johnson returning is the best part of the 2007 season. I don't know if it'll mean more wins, but I can almost guarantee he won't be as frustrating to watch as Brett Ratliff was last year. With that said, Johnson did have his flaws, especially when it came to turning the ball over while running the option. If Utah is going to be successful at sustaining drives and scoring in the redzone, he will need to adjust and cut down on those sloppy turnovers.

Every game is important and we go out there to win. But, we put more importance into our conference games. Everyone's non-conference schedule is so different it's hard to judge yourself until you get to the Mountain West Conference games. But, Oregon State should give us a good idea of where we are.

I believe that no one really knows the landscape of the conference until the fourth or fifth week of play. It takes time for the dust to settle and to get a read on who's good and who's not so good.

I agree that Oregon State will tell us where Utah is. If they are blown out, I think it will be a very long season. A close loss won't be too upsetting and will give me hope and if the Utes win, well watch out. As for focusing more on conference games, with a schedule like this, you really need to. Utah could realistically win a share of the conference championship and finish with only 7-wins this year. Of course, we all hope for Utah to at least break even in their out of conference schedule and then win 6 or 7 conference games. But who knows, because this season can really go either way.

Here's to a win and a more upbeat press conference in week 2!