Coach Kyle Whittingham’s Monday press conferences are always great. They’re even better when the team is winning. In addition to reaction from Whittingham, you can listen to what Tyler Huntley, Zack Moss and Boobie Hobbs have to say coming off their win over the UCLA Bruins.
Kyle Whittingham opening statements:
“I thought we played well in all three phases. Offense — that’s how I envision we’re supposed to look excluding for the first quarter. The first quarter was a rough start. Once we were able to get into a rhythm we moved the ball, made explosive plays, ran the football with physicality and efficiency and protecting the ball with zero turnovers. Defense put up some good numbers. We didn’t create the havoc we usually do or that we like to. That’s something we need to continue to stress. We did some good things on special teams. Matt Gay was perfect with his placekicking. A lot of positives coming out of that game. It was great to see our guys play with that chip on their shoulder and that anger that has been missing. It was good to get back on track after several not-so-good weeks. Now it’s on to Washington State. They are a very good football team. Very well deserving inside a top 20 rank. A potent offense as always. Their quarterback [Luke Falk] is phenomenal. The thing that really makes them different this year is that they’re playing exceptional defense. They’re amongst the best defenses in the Pac -12 and in the country which has made them a complete football team. They’re hard to deal with.”
Whittingham on Zack Moss getting the ball more:
“We’re a lot better football team when we have the run-game going like on Friday night.”
Whittingham on facing two of the top three rushing defenses in the Pac - 12 [Washington State and Washington]:
“The degree of difficulty definitely gets higher, we understand that. The yards are going to be tougher to come by…” “…Washington State’s defense is definitely stingy.”
Did the Utes get their swag back after their win against UCLA?
“It’s a step in the right direction. It’s just a mentality of that little edge that you’re looking for. We certainly did a better job of it Friday night but it’s just one week and we have to build on that.”
What has been the reaction of the players and coaches since the offensive coordinator went into the booth?
“I think it has been positive. It really hasn’t been a dramatic difference. When Troy was down on the field calling things he kind of went down to get a better vantage point. He was quite a ways removed from the signaling and all that anyway. It’s not that big of a deal. Probably the main dynamic that is different is that he’s got to do it by phone instead of face-to-face down the sidelines in-between series.”
Whittingham addresses the struggling pass rush:
“It’s been very very,” said Whittingham before switching up his answer. “For example, Lowell and Filipo had 10 sacks between them last year and we have one between them at this point. And Kylie had 10 or 12 sacks last year and I think he has one or two. It’s just been slowed way down. I can’t put our finger on it. We’re bringing pressure about the same percentage this year as we did last year. We certainly miss Hunter Dimick. He was a big factor in our defense the last several years. His production is missed but there’s no excuses, we’ve got to pick it up. The defensive line knows that. That’s what we’re known for is putting pressure on the quarterback and we’ve done a very average at best job of that this year.”
When a team is down how hard is it to get them back up and winning again?
“It’s not easy but if you have outstanding leaders, which we do, particularly in the senior class, that’s the biggest factor in turning things around. All through those struggles, not once did we point fingers. Not once did the practice effort drop off or the focus. Those are the tail-tail signs of something that’s in dire straits is when you start pointing fingers, and getting divisions, but that wasn’t the case.”
Does the offense begin with Tyler Huntley?
“You want to tailor make your offense to your quarterback’s strengths. If you have a dual-threat like Tyler, then you want to make sure you get him involved in the game and get him going. There’s more than one way to make your offense go. If you’ve got a great pocket guy that’s lights out throwing the football then you gravitate in that direction. Tyler happens to be a guy that can do both. The games that we have won this year, he has been a great catalyst for the offense. I thought it was a really good blend of Tyler running and throwing in Friday night’s game. He did carry the ball 18 times but many of those were on QB scrambles. He did a much better job of not taking direct shots — making sure he got out of harms way on the run game for the most part. He did take a few shots but I thought it was exactly the balance we were looking for.”