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Kyle Whittingham Week 2 Press Conference Recap

Brittany Johnson

This week Utah prepares to take on Northern Illinois on the road. Before the team kicked off a week of preparation, head coach Kyle Whittingham spoke about the matchup during his weekly press conference on Monday. Whittingham also recapped Utah’s season opener against Weber State.

You can listen to the presser in its entirety or read some of the statements Whittingham made below.

Coach Kyle Whittingham’s opening remarks:

“On to week two in Northern Illinois. They’re a good football team. They played Iowa tough last week. It was 3 nothing midway through the third. They’re a very physical team – hard nosed – disciplined. We have a challenge ahead of us. It’s the first road game of the year so it will be a new experience for those rookies who haven’t been on the road yet. We came out of the game [Weber State game] healthy, which is a big positive. Even though we had a slow start we ended up putting up some decent numbers and we’re feeling decent about the outing. It wasn’t great, but you know, nothing is ever perfect.”

Whittingham on the team’s defensive effort against Weber State:

“I’d say it was a very good defensive effort. Weber played pretty close to the vest. There wasn’t as much of an opportunity for takeaways. We tackled well -- we only missed six tackles the entire game, which is very good in any game – particularly for an opener. When you think about how little life we had in the fall camp, we were pleased with that.”

Did either Nick Ford or Orlando Umana solidify the left guard spot?

“No. They both played well in spots and both had a few errors here and there but it should be the same approach this week where they both get time. We’ll just continue to play both of them until there’s a separation – if there’s a separation.”

How Whittingham thinks Jason Shelley responded to his opportunity:

“Very well. He came in, showed a lot of poise, made great decisions, threw a nice deep ball down the field to Jaylen Dixon and looked very athletic running the football. When he pulled that read zone and went around the edge it was – it looked like he had done that before, which he had, back in high school. That was his forte in high school.”

Whittingham’s expectations of Solomon Enis:

“We have high expectations of Solomon. I think you saw a little bit of a taste of what his capabilities are. We targeted him three or four times and I think he came away with a couple catches, he drew a PI [pass interference] – a defensive PI – and one was incomplete. He’s a guy that has a tremendous upside and he’s going to continue to get playing time.”

Tyler Huntley ran the ball seven times against Weber State. Is that too much?

“It’s week to week. Some weeks it will be more than that and some weeks it will be less, it just depends on the opponent and what the game plan is. But, Tyler Huntley’s got a great ability to run the football and we’re not going to just take that away, that would be stupid to just take that away. I think what you did see is Tyler stay out of harms way pretty good Thursday night. He did a nice job of avoiding those direct shots and getting down – that’s what the key is. Relatively speaking, you can’t run him 25 times a game, but if he runs 15 times a game and is smart with his decisions, as far as him finishing the play, I think that will be just fine.”

Whittingham’s thoughts on Northern Illinois’ running backs:

“Good. One kid went for about 75 yards. They have a lot of a different look this year. Last year they played employed multiple tight ends. They lost a couple and one got injured in either spring or fall camp. So, personnel groups are a bit different than last year. But their running back ran hard. He ran hard. Tough.”

Did Tyler Huntley get hit on the interception?

“Yes he did. He got hit in the head and that definitely altered the throw.”

Whittingham’s overall thoughts on how the offense played against Weber State:

“Not bad. We expect a lot out of our o-line. We returned four- out-of-five of our starters on the offensive line. There were a few breakdowns here and there but not many. For the most part, we rushed for a bout 250. For an opening game I think it was a pretty good performance. We have to continue to get better but it was a good starting point.”

What the Utes need to improve between game one and two:

“We need to start better – that’s for certain. It’s something that was obvious on Thursday night – we didn’t start very well. Defensively, we need to find a way to get a takeaway. Special teams, we have plenty of work on there. We had a field goal blocked for the first time in six or seven years. We turned the ball over on a punt return.”