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Kyle Whittingham Press Conference Recap: Week 2

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NCAA Football: Utah at Brigham Young Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

Opening Statement…

”Rivalry game is over, time to move on to the next opponent. Northern Illinois gave us fits last year and we were lucky to escape there with a win. It was a close game, a physical game. We have them at our place this year. They have had a change in coaching staff this year. We have one game to draw upon, other than that, we have had to do some digging from places the coordinators have been, so still some unknowns. But we have one game to reference and study, so that is a positive. We have a couple of extra days to prepare. We brought the guys in on Friday, watched the game, graded it, got some things done and gave them the weekend off. We are back at it today, so we will go pads today and tomorrow, pads off on Wednesday and then get them fresh for the game on Saturday.”

On what he likes about morning games…

”Number one, not having to sit around all day. That is the biggest advantage. You wake up, do pregame meal around 7:45 a.m. and you get going. You don’t have to sit around for hours on end for kick off, so that is the biggest positive.”

On how the offense started in week one without a sack or a turnover…

”Well taking care of the football is the number one job, so that is great. It is a great accomplishment to do that, and to not give up a sack even though we didn’t throw a whole lot. The throws were off action passes and typically you buy yourself a little more time off action passes. We went into the game and talked about being clean not only from a penalty standpoint but by taking care of the football and keeping the pocket clean, so I think that is exactly what we were after. We would have liked to be a little more prolific throwing the football, but that will come and we aren’t concerned about that.”

On if he thinks the throwing game will open up a little more this week…

”A strong run game will open up your throw game because they have to put extra hats in the box to defend the run and when that happens, you get a chance to get the ball up the field. In the rivalry game there was a ton of drop-eight and not much chance to go over the top so you just take what is there. Zack had a big night, Tyler did a great job of taking care of the ball. In fact, Tyler was really, really sharp. Two of the incompletions, one was a tipped ball where the defender player got the hand on it and then the other was the drop, so he was really sharp. We are pleased with where he was as far as a starting point, but again we have to get better as far as being more productive throwing the ball.”

On if he liked the run/pass balance against BYU…

”No, that was pretty run-heavy in this last game, but again it was because of the structure of the defense. Ideally, we’d like to be 50/50 because that is an ideal offense. Your perfect offensive day would be no turnovers, 250 rushing yards and 250 passing yards and scoring in the red zone, but very seldom are you going to get exactly that. The objective though is to be very balanced so that teams can’t load up on one or the other.”

On why Zack Moss is so difficult to bring down on first contact…

”First of all, he is as strong as a bull. He is built incredibly powerful. He is 5-10 and 220 pounds with very good weight room strength. He is put together as well as any back we’ve ever had come through here. He’s got good balance; he is hard to knock off his feet. He has low center of gravity. He has great vision and can sense tacklers or potential tacklers and can come at angles to not give them much of a shot to get a good lick on him.”

On if they have learned anything from tape against NIU last year…

”Yeah that we have to be ready to play every week. I want to give them credit because I don’t want to say we just slopped around – they had a good plan against us. They had good players too with Sutton Smith really jumping out. He was a tremendous player. It was just a testament that you have to be on your game or you are going to struggle, so we have to be on our game.”

On Jordan Wilmore getting touches against BYU and where Devonta’e Henry-Cole and Devin Brumfield fit in…

”All four of those backs will figure in. It was more Jordan in the first game. Devonta’e is going to have his role, Devin as well, but Jordan through fall camp had earned the opportunity to have the second-most carries. So in that game, he was the relief back in place of Zack. Devin does some really good things in short yardage and pass protection, so each of them do their own things. Like I said during all of fall camp, we are high on all four of those backs, but Jordan opened some eyes in the short time that he has been here.”

On Zack Moss getting closer to becoming the all-time leading rusher at Utah…

”He has been doing good things for us since his freshman year. He is very steady, very consistent and it should be just a matter of time barring anything unforeseen before he takes over the No. 1 spot. That is a really good accomplishment when you look at the backs that we have had come through here and the production they’ve had. One of the reasons Zack came back was just that. He has a chance to do some things that no backs have done here before, so he is off to a good start. But it is a long season with a lot of football left, but so far so good.”

On Andrew Strauch continuing to kick off and Jadon Redding stepping in to kick field goals…

”It was a three-man competition initially and then it got down to two. Jadon Redding was actually ahead statistically as far as percentage made, trajectory, get off time half way through camp and then he got injured and missed about 10 days. Andrew during that time started to really come on and kick well and when Jadon got back, he really wasn’t 100-percent and still wasn’t 100-percent until just days before the opener. So when Andrew struggled, it gave Jadon an opportunity to come in and show what he could do. He didn’t really get tested other than making a few PATs, but based on the whole body of work through fall camp and our inability to make a couple of kicks that we should have been able to make on Thursday night, Jadon will now get his shot.”

On getting to see Francis Bernard get a pick-six against BYU…

”It was awesome to see him play well and excel. He is a great kid; I love Francis Bernard. He is one of our great leaders and he has been a model citizen since he’s been here. All he does is work hard and do what he is supposed to do. So it is gratifying seeing kids that are getting a second chance and take advantage of it and make the most of it. He is certainly doing that at this point.”

On how he felt the secondary graded out against BYU…

”Tareke Lewis especially performed well out of those guys. That was a concern for us when you have a corner of the caliber of Jaylon Johnson, you know they are going to pick on the other side when they can and I thought Tareke held up very well. Julian was good in the post at free safety, got a little aggressive at times and maybe played a little shallow, but he had that nice pick-six off what should have been an interception by Tareke because it went right off his hands. Julian tackled well, ran the coverage and the adjustments back there. I thought those guys, I thought they did well. Credit to BYU because they were getting the ball out quick and the pass rush wasn’t really a factor so it just amounted to the secondary doing their job.”

On if the offensive line is settled or still a work in progress as far as lineup…

”I would say it is pretty settled, we are just waiting for two or three more guys to emerge and round out that two-deep. The two-deep isn’t quite a solid two-deep. We have about seven or eight guys and we want to have 10 guys that if someone goes down, we have someone at each position to step up. That usually isn’t the case though. Usually you have one tackle as your next best guy who will go in at either right or left and same with the inside three, someone who can go in at center or either guard. So, there will always be a pecking order there, there is never going to be just a two-deep up front, but if we can get to 10 guys we would be elated.”

On how they found Jadon Redding and if him wearing No. 97 will be a new program number for kickers because of Matt Gay…

”I never pay attention to uniforms or numbers and that is all up to the players. How we arrived here though, he actually reached out to us. He is from the east coast and was a good high school kicker, looking for a place to play. We evaluated his tape and saw some good things and invited him out here and he is proving to have a strong leg. He has solid mechanics and is a good kicker, he just needs to have more experience.”

On some of the strengths that Northern Illinois has…

”It is tough to say with only one game, but they have a good running back who rushed for around 100 yards. They have speed a wide out with a kid going for over 100 yards at wide receiver. They are very sound on defense – fundamentally and technique wise. Punter has a very strong leg, averaged about 45 yards per kick and punted eight or nine times. The main thing that got our attention is that we escaped the game last year by the skin on our teeth for the win. I think it was a Chase Hansen pick-six that made us fortunate to win that game.”