On Monday afternoon Coach Kyle Whittingham addressed reporters in his weekly press conference. He recapped Utah’s win over Stanford and previewed Friday night’s game against Arizona.
You can read some of what Whittingham had to say below and you can listen to the press conference in its entirety, here:
Coach Kyle Whittingham opening statements:
“It was good to get the win at Stanford on Saturday night. I’m proud of our players and of our coaches. It was a great effort all-around. All three phases of the game were in sync. We were very productive on offense; scored a bunch of points, threw the ball very efficiently – not a ton of pass yardage, but very efficient in the throw game. It was the second week in a row that there were no offensive turnovers which is huge. You always have a chance when you take care of the football. Our defense generated four takeaways and anytime. Defensively we played the run exceptionally well, we didn’t hold up against the throw game as well as we wanted to. They’ve got some really good running backs and receivers and their quarterback threw some good balls – I’ll give them credit for making those plays. A lot of those catches were contested; they just did a great job coming away with the football. Special teams, Matt Gay, he had four field goals. We finally got him back on track. He hadn’t really had a whole lot of opportunities before Saturday night. That may be on of the primary differences in the game is our field goal unit scored 16 points as opposed to their three – so that was a big margin of difference in the production of special teams. Overall good game. We move on to Arizona. Friday night game. Short turnaround. We have one less day to prepare which is not a big deal. They are in the same situation. Obviously their quarterback is a talented kid. Very good running backs. A couple of good receivers. We’ve got our work cut out for us. They’re coming off of a nice victory over Cal. We’ll line up Friday night and see where we’re at.
Tight ends involvement in the win over Stanford and will that be part of the plan moving forward:
“They’re a big part of our game from a blocking standpoint but they did make some catches Saturday night. [Brant] Kuithe is starting to emerge as a viable weapon at the tight ends spot. Going forward I would like that to continue but it’s a week-by-week thing depending on what the defense is giving you.”
How do you keep the team’s confidence where it is and refrain from going backwards?
“Well that’d be a big positive if we can build on last game. Not only the production but the energy, the passion, and the juice our guys play with. I think it started in the game against Washington State, even though we didn’t win. I think we’re starting to figure out who we are and develop some confidence, particularly on the offensive side of the ball. That will be a big push this week to continue that mindset.”
How did the Orlando Umana and Nick Ford combination work out on offense?
“It worked out really well. They played well. They rushed the ball for over 220 yards. They only gave up one sac if I remember correctly – one sac. Both of those players, Nick and Orlando, played exceptionally well. We hope to have Lo [Falemaka] back this week – time will tell. Both those guys are good offensive linemen in our program.”
Even though the Utes won, did Whittingham see anything his team did wrong and that they can work on?
“There’s always things you can look at and find things that need improving. There was some of that. But like I said, it was good to see us play like we’re capable of. That’s who we can be and I think it’s a real positive for our team when we can see when everything is kicking and we’re hitting on all cylinders. That’s the team we’re capable of being. “
Whittingham weighs in on the impact Gary Andersen has made to the team:
“He’s been a great addition to the staff. In my opinion he’s one of the greatest defensive line coaches in the country. He was a successful coordinator while he was here. He has always had his hand in defense since he left here in the various places he has been. He’s been a huge help to both Morgan and myself just as a sounding board and a guy that’s got a lot of experience and knowledge. It’s been exactly what I envisioned and hoped it would be.”
Whittingham evaluates how Bradlee Anae played against Stanford.
“It was probably his best game of the season -- without a doubt in my estimation. He was our in house player of the game. He made very few mistakes. He graded out very well and had a big impact on the game. He’s a talented player. We expect a lot of production week-in and week-out.”
Utah leads the Pac – 12 in opponent third down conversion. How much of that is a critical factor in the overall success of the defense?
“Huge, huge factor. Winning third down is like a mini turnover. You get the ball back to your offense unless they go for it on fourth, which we haven’t been good on fourth down – ironically – defensively. But third down is the money down. You play first and second down to setup third down. Third down is what it’s all about. We have a saying here that third down is what it’s all about. If you win third downs defensively and conversely, if you win third downs on offense you sustain drives and get out of drives and all that. So, it’s very important. Third down is something we play close attention to.”
Bryan Thompson update:
“Still unavailable. Hopefully it’s soon when he returns and then you got that red shirt rule that we have to juggle and decide what we want to do when he returns. It’ll be based on how much he has left to play because he didn’t utilize the red shirt year last year so he still has that availability. We will cross that bridge when we come to it, hopefully sooner rather than later.”