We’re back folks! Utah Football Head Coach Kyle Whittingham addressed the media Monday for his first official press conference of the 2018 season. As always, Whittingham opens up the press conference with his thoughts and then takes questions from the media.
Coach Whittingham’s opening statement:
“We’re eager to get the season started. As always, every year at this time, you’re anxious to hit someone else instead of yourselves. We had a very good fall camp and came out of it relatively healthy. We had very few injuries other than a few bumps and bruises. We had a couple guys that are not going to be with us but for the most part we had a pretty healthy fall camp. The team has been working hard. This team has a great work ethic and they’re very focused. I for one am excited to watch them play on Thursday night.”
Thoughts on Weber State head football coach Jay Hill and how he resurrected the program:
“Me and Jay are very close. He was one of my first hireswhen I got the job way back when. He coached very well for us his entire time here. He was very versatile; he coached special teams, he coached defense, he coached offense – outstanding recruiter. He was very valuable to any success he had here. He moved on and found success at Weber. It doesn’t surprise me at all in what he’s doing there and the success he’s had and will continue to have. He’s a smart guy that is well organized and very disciplined and who has a very good rapport with his players. I think that’s how I sum that up.”
With Jay and several of his staff having come through Utah, how much of Utah’s influence do you see in their game?
“A lot on the defense side of the ball. Very similar philosophies and techniques and defense of structures.Offensively, Dave Schramm, of course a new coordinator, and he was at Fresno prior so we went to a lot of the Fresno film from a couple years back. It’s remarkably different than what we were doing when he was here for the most part. We did start to get into some of that stuff but Dave is a guy that knows what he likes to do. He did a good job at Fresno and had success there. Anytime you’re not sure what you’re going to see, you have to stay vanilla on both sides of the ball.”
How did the quarterback order turn out the way it did?
“It was a very heated battle between number two and three. And Jason [Shelley] had just slightly edged out Jack [Tuttle] and the fact that Jack has a redshirt year and Jason doesn’t, put us in a situation where Jason is number two and Jack is number three. They are still competing. Jack will continue to get some reps during the course of the week and in-season. But for right now that’s how it is. Something could change. But right now, if we can get the redshirt on Jack this year and have him preserve that year of eligibility that would be ideal but we will see how it unfolds.”
Tyler Huntley’s progression:
“He’s doing everything better than he did last year. He was very good last year for us but he’s a year older and more mature. He has that year of competition under his belt and he’s a seasoned veteran I guess you can say. He’s done a great job running the offense ever since last spring. His decision-making is better – not that it was bad – but he’s just improving in all areas. There was no glaring weakness. The thing that was concerning was the amount of hits he took last year. He knows that and we’ve talked about that a lot. One of the primary objectives this year is to make sure he’s not subjected to as many hits as he was last year.”
Does Coach Whittingham prefer playing an Iowa State or North Dakota to Weber State?
“Not really, not personally. If it keeps more dollars in the state of Utah and in the programs in the state I think it’s a good thing. Outside of that, there’s not really a preference either way.”
What did coach Whittingham see in Francis Bernard that earned him the backup spot?
“Francis has gotten better and better since he’s joined us. He was a little bit out of shape and obviously didn’t have a great knowledge of our scheme yet, but he’s been on an upward trajectory ever since he got in the program. He’s a tremendously handworker and pays attention to detail and works extra in the film room. He’s a guy that just kept elevating each practice and making more plays. That’s why he’s here. That’s why we welcomes him with open arms to our program because he’s a talented kid.”
Coach Whittingham’s reaction to the news releases regarding Utah’s 2008 team being named a national poll champion:
“That was interesting. I haven’t been completely educated on exactly the particulars of it but we thought we were a pretty good team that year – I voted us number one -- were the only undefeated team in the country. It’s all even now. It’s speculative and mythical. Until they have a full on real playoff system and people not voting who is in it and who is the best, then it’s all speculative and it’s all best guess scenario. We thought we were pretty darn good that year. We did everything we were supposed to do. There’s not one other thing we could have done to state our case. I don’t think we’re going to be self-proclaimed and put up a banner or anything like that but I don’t’ know, I haven’t talked to administration about it yet. We will see what the best course of action is but right now I haven’t given it a lot of thought.”
Tyler Huntley on his personal goals for the season:
“Definitely stay healthy the whole year and just lead this team to a lot of wins. That’s all I’ve been focused on.”
What Huntley has worked on to ensure he stays healthy:
“Re-watching film where I needed to not take as many hits and learning to get the ball out of my hands faster, things like that. Just polish myself up and make sure I stay healthy.”
Cody Barton on how much of the momentum from the wins last season carries over into this season:
“I think a lot of it does. Obviously last year wasn’t the best year for us – not the way we wanted it to go. To end the season with some wins definitely gives you more confidence going into the off-season. We talked about keeping the momentum going and keep up the confidence throughout the season.”
Samson Nacua on how his relationship with Tyler Huntley has evolved:
“My expectation is just like last year – just lead us – we got his back. We will make plays for him and block for him when he runs. When he takes charge of the offense we are right behind him.”
“He’s always smiling. He’s never negative. Even if he makes a bad play or throws a pick, he’s like, ‘alright I got you next time,’ always with a big smile. I think that positive upbeat that he has helps us get past the little mistakes that we make and helps push us .”