The Utah Utes are coming off of a 24-28 loss to Washington State. The Utes are now 0-2 in conference play but as Coach Kyle Whittingham said in Monday’s week five press conference “it’s still early in the season.” You can listen to Whittingham’s remarks or read some of what he had to say below.
Coach Kyle Whittinghma Opening Remarks:
“Tough trip to Pullman, [Washington]. We had our chances. We actually made some plays in the end to potentially win the game but they didn’t count. The guys played hard. They are a good football team. They had success throwing the ball; we had success throwing the ball. In the final analysis, they made a play or two more than we did and that was that. It was a tight game all the way to the end. I’m please with the way the offense…. [cuts off thought midsentence] … played to our strengths, ran the football and had a physical presence to us. Defensively, we made an error, too much three-man rush. In retrospect and hindsight we should have turned our 4 guys lose up front and not have worried about the exotic coverages and that type of thing. We still held them to 12 points less than their scoring average but not enough. We needed to do a little better job. Offensively we needed to come up with one more score, which we weren’t able to do. Life goes on. We have Stanford coming up this week on the road. [They’re] A good football team – coming off of a loss to Notre Dame so they’re reeling a little bit as well. That’s where we’re at.”
How difficult is it to win conference games in the Pac – 12 Conference?
“Very difficult. It’s a balanced league -- it seems like this year, more than ever, although Washington is maybe the lone team at the top, that’s a dominant team. Every week you have to bring you’re ‘A’ game and you have to be ready to play. As you mentioned, it comes down to a play or two. Sometimes we’re on the right side of that, sometimes not. It just speaks to the league’s balance. With 9 conference games, every week is a big challenge.”
Evaluating Tyler Huntley’s performance against Washington:
“He ran the ball for over 100 yards, exclusive to sacks. When you run the football, you can’t discount the sacks, because they were there, which took off from the total yardage that he was able to rush for. But 12, 20, 60-percent. We probably needed more production out of the throw game. We knew we wanted to come in and establish Zack Moss, which we did, 30 carries for over 100 yards, but we needed to get a little more going in the throw game. The play that really did us in was the 89-yarder towards the end. That was the play that was the ultimate difference in the game. But as far as Tyler, he took care of the football. We didn’t turn it over one time, which will always give us the chance to win, when you protect the football like that and he did a good job of that.”
How does Zack Moss’ production differ from when the quarterback is in the center vs. in the shotgun?
“There’s not a big enough body of work yet to make that determination. But I think going under center has helped us this year and added to what we’re doing. You have the boot game, the play-action game that has been fairly productive – not wildly productive – but it has given us some things there.”
What was the difference in the second half with the run game?
“We just weren’t as productive in the second half and that’s the same with them. We scored 3 and they scored 7 in the second half after quite a bit of scoring in the first half so both offenses flourished in the first half and were more held at bay in the second half. I don’t feel like we deviated from the game plan; we kept feeding Zack, we stuck to the plan, and we didn’t just get as much going – that’s that.”
How is the team’s morale after losing two conference games?
“This team has got a bunch of tough guys – we’ve got high character guys that are tough guys that work hard. We are still early in the season – four games in – we dropped a couple conference games – you know, Washington is a heck of a football team and Washington State is a good team as well. As we talked about, every team is good that we play, but, it’s too early, in my estimation, to have any signs of that [the team feeling down] show up. No matter what happens on Saturday you come back on Monday and you gotta get ready to go for the next opponent. My guess is that the guys will handle that very well.”
At this point in the season does Whittingham understand his team and where they’ve improved and what the weaknesses are?
“Certainly. Defensively I think we’re talented and we’re doing some good things. Special teams, I think we’re starting to get on track, unfortunately, the Covey return was for not, because the ref thought he saw something. I think we’re figuring out what direction we’re going. Offensively – you know Zack Moss was banged up and now he’s finally approaching to where he’s almost back to 100-percent, so, you gotta work with what you got. If a guy is not available and ready to shoulder a 30-carry load then you can’t do that, and so, but the short answer is yea.”
Is Whittingham satisfied with Armand Shyne’s production against Washington State?
“He’s earning more and more playing time. This is the most he’s played and the most carries he’s got – still not very many – but he gave us some good carries and some good solid runs. You earn your reps in this program and you’re not going to be given anything, not that other programs don’t do the same thing. But, Armand is starting to emerge and we hope he stays on that trajectory. It’s up to him to determine if he’s going to or not.”