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Kyle Whittingham Press Conference Recap

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NCAA Football: Utah at Southern California Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Coach Kyle Whittingham’s opening remarks

“I’m proud of our guys they played extremely hard. It was a great college football game for the fans. We came up one play short — that’s the bottom line. We have to put it behind us now and regroup and get ready for the next one and learn from our mistakes and just try to get better. I think we took a step forward against USC. I think we progressed as a team and got better from the previous week. Obviously it wasn’t quite good enough but there were a lot of positives in the game. I thought we ran the ball effectively. Zack Moss played his best game as a Ute. He played with great violence and determination. Defense stepped up and got three takeaways but they got a little soft at the end on the run game — particularly in the fourth quarter. Special teams was kind of a non-factor in the game. It was a wash special teams wise. There were really no big plays by either special teams unit. It’s time to move on and focus on Arizona State who is coming off of a big win, huge win, against Washington.”

Coach Whittingham on the play calling decision to go for the win

“No regret. Wide open! You don’t make every play but the play was there and just missed him. Didn’t see him. Happens all the time.”

Whittingham on season-ending injuries and the status of Christian Drews

“Christian is done. I should have mentioned that last week. That’s a big loss special teams loss. This week there’s no season-ending injuries that have been brought to my attention yet.”

With two losses are the Utes still in the race in the Pac-12?

“It’s not out of the question.” … “It was a weird weekend — a wild weekend.” .. “A lot of upsets over the weekend.”

Whittingham addresses the status of Tyler Huntley

“Every week that goes by he gets healthier and closer to being cleared. At this point it’s just day to day until they say yes or no. Everyday is a yes or no, either he can practice or he can’t. So far it’s been no, no, no, no, all the way. No yesses yet.”

Whittingham on the team’s red zone completions

“We’ve studied it relentlessly and work on it and scheme for it and we still are not good enough in the red zone. We were two for four on Saturday night. I guess you could say if we were three for four we would have won the game. There was a lot of things that could have made the difference. If we hit our field goal we could have won the game. There are a lot of “ifs.” The one thing that is constant is that we have to get better in the red zone. Third downs and red zone production are our big achilles heels right now offensively. Those are two big areas.”

Whittingham discusses Troy Williams and his improvement

“Much better performance by Troy (in the USC game then Stanford). I think a lot of it ties into that he had an extra week and a game under his belt. It was great to see him come out and play with a lot more efficiency and have a lot more success.”

Whittingham talks more about Zack Moss’ big night

“That’s the Zack Moss that I’ve been waiting for for some time now. He’s a very capable back. He’s very good. He’s physical. He can run people over. You saw him running linebackers over from USC. The light switch hopefully has come on and hopefully that’s what we get week in and week out because he’s a very talented back.”

“I can’t tell you exactly what his mindset was. I can tell you that he looked exactly like we hoped he would look when we recruited him — running over people, exploding into would-be tacklers. He made so many physical and violent runs. It was impressive.”

Whittingham talks about the three 80-plus yard runs they saw from USC

“Sam Darnold is a terrific quarterback. The receivers made a bunch of catches. They’re making circus catches — I mean one-handed grabs and finding ways to make plays. That’s as big as anything to contribute to that. Our usual M.O. on defense is to be tough against the run from start to finish. We got soft late in the game and had fundamental errors that we made that gave up those big plays.”