The Utah Utes are coming off of a bye week and gearing up for their game against Washington State. Head Coach Kyle Whittingham brought everyone up to speed on what the team has improved on during the week and looked ahead to the match up against the Cougars.
Kyle Whittingham opening statements:
“We’re getting ready for our first Pac – 12 road game of the year. Washington State is a good football team and they’re putting up good numbers on both sides of the ball. We’ve got our work cut out for us. We have a 3:00 p.m.kick which will be nice. We will be able to play a game in the daylight. That will be awesome. It will be a big challenge. They’re coming off of a close loss at USC. It was a great game. I was able to watch most of it as it was being broadcast and of course we’re studying the film. They’ve got a lot of weapons on offense; their quarterback is playing extremely well, they spread the ball around, they’ve got four or five receivers that get involved, they throw to the ball to the running backs as well – the running back are a big part of the throw game. It’s a typical mike Leach football team that is extremely difficult to defend.”
Does Utah have enough depth to go against Washington State?
“We hope so. It will be a challenge. They have a bunch of guys that get playing time. Part of the challenge will be keeping our guys fresh. A lot of that is obviously getting out of drives and not having extended drives because that really wears you out. A lot of that is on us to get out of drives early and try to maintain freshness.”
What improvements did the Utes make during the bye week?
“Defensively we’re playing pretty good through three weeks and we’re getting pretty good results. It was good to see the special teams get turned around. The primary issues were the pass is the pass offense and trying to get that thing jumpstarted. That starts with coaching better and we have to execute better.”
What makes Washington State’s offense difficult to scheme against?
“Well, they always seem to have a great quarterback…it starts there. The quarterback is the most important position on any football team. It has the biggest impact on the game. Coach Leach is very well versed, to say the least, in the throwing the football and has a great track record and knows exactly what he’s doing in the throw game and how to coach it. The receivers are coached up well. The offensive line does a great job protecting. It’s just a typical Mike Leach offense. He has a system that he knows inside and out and he plugs players into that system and the results speak for themselves.”
How important is it for Utah’s offense to sustain drives so the defense isn’t out on the field too much?
“It’s important but it’s more important that we score points. You gotta score points. You’re not going to beat Washington State 21-17 – that’s not going to happen – they are prolific on offense and you have to score 38,39 points. Keeping their offense on the sideline is the best way to defend it but if you keep their offense on the sideline and don’t score points during the process, then you’re not going to fair very well so you gotta do both.”
Whittingham’s thoughts on Washington State’s offense:
“It’s a different animal. It’s definitely a pass first team. Most weeks you’re geared up on stopping the run and then getting someone to third and long and then stopping the quarterback. But this week, it’s a departure from the norm and they are going to throw the ball 80-percent of the time, roughly. A lot of the running backs receptions are coming off of the screen game. It does present a different challenge than your typical week but you have to be ready for it. Based on the first two days of practice last week I think we got a good start on it.”
Do the Utes need to stretch the field more on offense?
“It really depends on what the defense is giving you. You want to make sure that you’re balanced and you don’t get too heavy in one aspect or the other. We probably have not taken enough deep shots this year and we maybe need to stretch the field a bit more. But the starting point is: what is the defense giving you, what type of coverage are they playing – is it press, is it off? All of that will dictate the throws you see.”