After a break from action this week, the Utah Utes will take on Washington State. Coach Kyle Whittingham talked about the matchup, plus recapped the Utes’ tough loss to Washington.
Whittingham opening statements from week four:
“It’s obviously disappointing to lose. It’s always disappointing to lose – that’s kind of a ridiculous statement. We did some good things. I thought defensively we showed up and we slugged it out with them. Just looking at the raw numbers after the game, we did some good things and our defense is playing well. I don’t think there’s any secret about that or any doubt about that. For special team, it was great to see Britain Covey get the punt return game underway. The kickoff game was a non-factor. Nobody had any kick off returns at all kicked out of the end zone. We really had an advantage in the punt game with our punt return. We out netted them by 17 or 18 yards which was a big difference when you look at field position, so that was good to get the special teams on track after a couple weeks of frustration. Offensively, we gotta get more going there. We turned the ball over three times and that makes it hard to win when you play a team of Washington’s caliber. Minus two in the turnover margin was probably the biggest issue of the night if you had to pinpoint one thing. I still feel really good about our team. I really believe in them. I believe in the offensive guys, I believe in the defensive guys, everything. We just have to find a way to put it all together, keep working and getting better. The South [Pac – 12 South], I believe is wide-open. It’s a wide-open race. It certainly didn’t help our cause dropping a Pac – 12 game but I think we’re still in good shape to contend. We will see what happens going forward.”
How concerned is Whittingham with regards to how many hits Britain Covey took?
“He’s a tough kid. He did get knocked around a bit. He just keeps getting back up off the matt and getting ready for the net play. We are concerned and we have to be smart with him. Kind of like Tyler last year, Britain can do some things to take himself out of harms way at times instead of taking that last shot – finishing runs, he’s gotta be able to avoid those direct shots. They got after him pretty good. Washington is a physical team. We feel like we’re both physical football teams and he did take some licks on Saturday night.”
If Zack Moss is not 100 percent, is the quarterback run game the second best option or the back up running backs?
“Probably the latter. We probably need to get Armand [Shyne] a few more carries. Hopefully Zack will be 100 percent by net week and we can start feeding him the ball more – which we need to do, and we know that. We feel like Zack is one of our best weapons on offense without a doubt. As soon as he’s ready for it we need to up his load.”
Whittingham’s assessment of Nick Ford at right tackle and the overall performance of the offensive line:
“Much improved and they played much better than the week before. I still think they can play even better. I have a lot of faith in our offensive line. I think they can dominate games – I think that’s their potential. We certainly took a big step forward Saturday when you compare it to the week prior. They certainly take a lot of pride in what they’re doing. We were not overmatched in that game physically. As far as physicality at the line of scrimmage we were not over-matched.”
Did the seven points feel more indicative of Utah’s offense or Washington’s defense?
“Both. You have to give them credit because they played good defense, but we didn’t capitalize, we had the ball on the second half on the plus 11, plus 28 and plus 42ish going in and came away with zero. We’re not capitalizing on opportunities but at the same token, they’re doing a great job of denying the end zone. It’s too bad the ball popped out of our d-lineman’s hand, he was walking in. that was an unfortunate turn of events because we got nothing out of it.”
How did Whittingham grade Huntley as a passer after Saturday night’s game against Washington?
“That’s kind of a relative question because if we don’t drop the ball, it would have been really really good numbers, but with all the drops – just very average. Everybody in the country has a drop or two here and there – it’s not like nobody is dropping the ball ever. But when you have excessive drops, that makes the quarterback numbers look as not as they were.”
How does Whittingham evaluate Huntley and will he take a closer look at the freshman quarterbacks?
“We evaluate him – we evaluate everybody. He’s got room for improvement like pretty much everyone on the football team. Right now, we’re not going to create some quarterback controversy. We feel Tyler gives us our best chance to win right now. And as long as that’s the case, he’ll be the guy. If something happens to change that then we’ll open it back up for competition. But right now, we feel like he is the guy that gives us our best chance on Saturdays.”
Issues with the amount of offensive groups:
“We need to scale back the amount of groups we have. That’s something I think we overloaded our guys with on Saturday – with personnel groups. That’s just our offensive coaches trying to get the best group for that particular play out there. Sometimes you can take that a little bit too far and it gets convoluted and a little tough to sort out. I think that’s what you saw during some of those drives where there was a little uncertainty. That’s us as coaches who need to get that ironed out – that’s not the players’ fault.”