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Kyle Whittingham Press Conference Recap - Week 7

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Brittany Johnson

In Monday’s press conference, Kyle Whittingham recapped Utah’s road win over Oregon State and previewed this week’s match up against Arizona State.

You can listen to the entire press conference or read through the transcribed version below.

Listen to the full presser here.

Opening statement…

”It is good to get the win on Saturday night. The guys played well, very well. We needed to get a win on the road. If you want to win championships you get a win on the road as well as at home and so it was good to get a win on the road. Moving on to Arizona State, we will be back home here at our place. They are a good football team. They are 5-1 and just find a way to win every week. There’s no real glaring statistical number that is just off the charts. They are just doing what they need to do to win week in and week out. They did a number on us last year, beat us up pretty good, so we’ve got to try to find a way to be better this year. They’ve got a good running back in Eno Benjamin. They have very productive receivers, a good freshman quarterback that is playing well, offensive line is solid. They are playing good defense too. They are a complete team and they don’t beat themselves, that’s for certain. They are well coached and so like I said, we have to find a way to have success. We know how important it is to have a great week of practice just like always and come out with the right mindset and see what we can do.”

On Tyler Huntley being comparable to Alex Smith…

”I think there are a lot of similar areas. Anytime you know the really good players and the guys that are the guys that you know are performing exceptionally well are typically the guys that are preparing well during the week. They watch extra film and are doing things in the preparation process that enable them and allow them to be successful on Saturday. When I think back to Alex he was here with the same type of work ethic and the same type of preparation that went into his game week.”

On recruiting ASU’s quarterback Jayden Daniels…

”Well we know his skill set very well like you said. We recruited him really hard out of high school. He’s a talented kid. He’s not the biggest guy, only about 180 pounds, so he hasn’t filled out yet, but he’s doing a really nice job running the offense. He is making good decisions, they are taking care of the football and haven’t turned it over excessively.”

On penalties…

”The last time we had this discussion we were about 15 or 20 yards too many a game penalty wise, but you know we are an aggressive team and we play aggressive on coverage which is going to lend itself to a few more potential calls out there, but we have to clean it up. We need to play cleaner than we have and that’s something that you always got to work on and that is certainly one of the things we need to work on is trying to become less penalized.”

On making sure to not get burned by Jayden Daniels’s running…

”He’s mobile and he has escape ability. He has hurt people with that and has come up with some timely conversions and first downs with his legs. We just have to do a good job of trying to balance the pass rush and stay in your lanes. Try to keep them in the cage like we do every mobile quarterback. There are some quarterbacks that you want to get on the run because they aren’t very good at the run or don’t throw as well on the run, but not this guy. He’s good on the run so we’ve just got to be disciplined and structure some things to try to keep them in that bucket.”

On only giving up 4.5 points in the second half per game…

”Probably a combination of halftime adjustments and depth. Our coaches have done a nice job of coming in at halftime on both sides of the ball and making adjustments that need to be made. I think we are in good physical shape and I don’t think our guys wear down. We are not playing a lot of snaps on defense which is keeping the guys fresh. Our offense is doing a good job controlling the ball in the second half. When we started running the football and eat that clock up it is a different mindset.”

On if there is a different mindset going into a ranked Pac-12 game…

”In the Pac-12 that’s important no matter who you’re playing, so no there is no different mindset or approach. We use our same process and our same practice structure we do all season long.”

On Zack Moss being just 55 yards away from the career rushing record and if when they recruited him if they though he would be one of the all-time great…

”I don’t know if we thought that exactly, but we knew he was really good and we knew he had some of the skillset like the strength, the speed and the vision, but I would say we just didn’t know how good he could be. I think probably better than everyone thought he was going to be, even though we knew he was going to be really good.”

On struggling against Arizona State in the past…

”It has been a rough series for us, but as I said this is a different year and different matchups. Every year is its own complete entity, a separate entity and I don’t think anything in the past will play into this game. We just haven’t fared very well.”

On getting to the midpoint of the season…

”Well we haven’t been perfect. Obviously, we are 5-1 and so that would preclude us from getting an A, but I think we are trending in the right direction. It is not a huge sample of work, but I think we are starting to figure out who we are and that’s what happens mid-year. You start to figure out who you are and I think that’s just where we are at right now. We are a pretty good football team and hopefully we can become a better football team as the season goes on.”

On Devin Lloyd through six games…

”Devin has improved throughout the course of the season. He’s still a ways from where I think his ceiling is and there is still a lot of improvement that can be made and will be made over the next couple of years, but he is a playmaker. You know he got an interception return on Saturday and you got to see some of his speed on that touchdown. He’s athletic and he is starting to get a feel for the position. He seems a little more comfortable each week as the season goes on.”

On the wide receiver depth…

”That is a great point and a point that is illustrated this week with our player of the game on offense because it went to the entire receiver group. That group has been tremendous as far as their work ethic. They are unselfish. A lot of times when the ball is being spread around so much, you are getting guys that aren’t getting the ball as much as they wanted and you can have a bit of an issue, but not with this group. This group is a team first and they support each other. They cheer for each other and that has been really positive for our football team. To have that kind of mentality not just in receiving but throughout the whole team. The receiving group seem to really exemplify it for us and all six of those guys in the two deep were player of the game this week.”

On Tyler’s high completion percentage…

”I think if you can be over 65-percent, you are pretty good at throwing the ball accurately. To be 75-percent is off the charts good and I don’t know where that ranks in the nation, but it has to be up there. We now have a whole half of a season’s body of work to evaluate and you know to be at this juncture in the season and to be at that level is great. I can’t give him enough accolades because of how well he is playing. He’s got to keep it up though, we have six games left.”

On Huntley’s big leap and if that is credited to it being his senior year or Andy Ludwig…

”Probably both. I think he knows that this is his last opportunity and going into his senior year. He has been a little bit frustrated with the injuries the last couple of seasons and not being able to finish a year, so I think he is determined first of all to finish the season. He still has kept the weight on, he is still about 200 pounds and so that’s a positive. Andy has definitely meshed with Tyler and I think they are a good match. They just seem to be in sync with each other. Andy was excited about Tyler all during the offseason about how athletic he was and what kinds of things he was going to create for him. Tyler has embraced that and done a great job with everything that has been asked of him.”

On how Bamidele Olaseni has progressed so far…

”He’s progressed very well and he’s very close to getting that playing time. We don’t want his four games to look like just eight or 10 snaps, so we are going to hold out as long as we think we need to before he’s ready to have a lion’s share of the reps. There could also be an injury, you never know what is going to happen in a couple of weeks, so some things could work themselves out in that regard. We are not going to just get him in there and six or eight snaps call it good, that’s not the plan.”

On what he wants to see improvement on in the next six games…

”Let’s start with the special teams. We need to get something going in the return game because we’ve been very, well very pedestrian. We haven’t generated in the return game which is unlike us. You know in the past five or six years we’ve been up or near the top of the league in that. We’re not punting very much, which is a good thing. Kickoff returns, nobody’s getting much going there because of the rule and how people are treating it, but we need to have a little more of an impact on the game itself on special teams. Defensively, I’d like to see more takeaways. We’re still decent I think since we’ve gotten 10, but we need to generate more because as a team traditionally we have generated a bunch of takeaways, so that is something that needs to happen. Offensively, continue to increase our red zone production which we did last game. We’re 75-percent productive and the one time we didn’t score was toward the end of the game. We were just running the football and we ended up kicking a field goal and had we wanted to absolutely score and threw the ball we probably could have, but that’s something that you know finishing drives on offense.”

On Samson Nacua stepping up…

”He has been a big positive force for us and more reps have opened up for him because of Britain being on the sideline. Samson is a talented player. That catch he made on fourth down, that was a great throw first of all, but that was a phenomenal catch. He is a talented guy and I just keep waiting for him to break out because he’s got a lot of ability and maybe you are starting to see that happen. We’ll see how things progress and if he can keep contributing like he has been, that will be big for the football team. He’s also a great blocker downfield, one of our best perimeter blockers.”