Utah head football coach Kyle Whittingham addressed the media for his weekly press conference.
"Disappointing game. I think it's safe to say our poorest performance of the year overall and most disappointing to me personally. It just didn't feel like for the first time this season we came out with the passion and the energy that we usually have. It wasn't necessarily bad at the beginning of the game, but as the game wore on we seemed to fade. Uncharacteristic of us. That was the biggest disappointment, like I said. As bad as things got, it was 21-10 and Kaelin [Clay] returns that punt for a touchdown and it gets called back, but as poorly as we played, and as many mistakes as we had made up until that point, it's still 21-10 going into the fourth quarter, then we let it get away from us. Got to move on and get ready for Colorado. Last regular-season game. A road trip. We have played pretty good on the road this year, and hopefully we will continue that this week and find a way to get back to playing like who we want to be and what we have played like for the majority of the season," said Whittingham.
Rebounding from such a blowout loss, but as Whittingham has said many times, there is great senior leadership on the team that has pulled the team through tough situations before. The team will need to put the loss behind them and prepare for their final game against Colorado, an 11 AM MT kickoff in Boulder, Colo.
"It's up to our guys to refocus and recommit themselves to giving it everything they've got this game, just like they have the other 10 games prior to this last one. Us as coaches have to help this process along and get them in the right frame of mind and the right mindset and be ready to play. It's an early game, an early kick, so we have to get up and be ready right away. Pregame meal is at 7:30 in the morning. It's the earliest kickoff that we've had for quite some time that I can remember," said Whittingham.
If the Utes rebound and win against Colorado, it will mark an 8-4 regular season and a winning record in the Pac-12, which would be a first for Utah.
"It's a step in the right direction and something to build on. There have been a lot of positives this season regardless of what happens in this last game. There are a lot of things that we got better at - playing on the road, playing toe-to-toe with the heavyweights of the conference. I think there is a lot to build on this season, but it will certainly be an exclamation point on the season if we are able to win this week," said Whittingham.
Utah's final game is the rivalry game against Colorado (2-9, 0-8 in conference). While the Buffaloes have not won a Pac-12 game this year, they have come close in multiple games and have the most talented team since joining the Pac-12.
"They are much better [than they were a year ago]. They took UCLA to overtime. They have been so close in so many games this season. They haven't gotten over that hump as far as a conference win, but they are much more competitive and playing much better football than last year," said Whittingham.
Hunter Dimick was injured against Arizona. Whittingham did not have much to say (as is his policy).
"No update, other than we're hopeful for this weekend. Right now it's unknown," said Whittingham.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Conner Manning saw his first game action in the fourth quarter against Arizona. Manning struggled in the poor conditions, going 2 of 6 for 28 yards with no touchdowns and one interception.
"He was put in a tough spot. It was tough circumstances and we thought he did ok. Going forward, there is a lot of evaluation that will take place this week, and as always, it's about getting the 11 guys on the field that we feel give us the best chance to win, and we'll have to see how that shakes out. It was Conner's first extensive action. He did some good things. Made a throw that I know he wishes he had back. But he's just a freshman, so he's got a lot ahead of him," said Whittingham.
Utah has three players who have accepted invitations to play in the Reese's Senior Bowl that will take place Saturday Jan. 24 in Mobile, Ala.