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Kyle Whittingham Week 3 Press Conference Recap

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

In week three of college football, Utah Head Coach Kyle Whittingham recaps the team’s 35-17 win over Northern Illinois and looks ahead to Saturday when Utah takes on Idaho State, the place Whittingham began his coaching career.

Opening statement…

”Pleased for the most part how we played Saturday. I thought we took a step forward offensively in a lot of respects but still have ways to go. But we did see improvement in the areas that we needed to see improvement in, particularly in the throw game with getting the ball up the field a little bit more. Special teams looked a little more settled. We didn’t do anything spectacular on special teams, but it was a good outing. Defense, other than the first part of the game, played well. They settled in and got a shut out in the second half, which was good to see. Northern Illinois is a good football team and they are well-coached. I think they are going to win a lot of games this year. Now we move on to the last non-conference game of the season with Idaho State coming to town. They just have the one game this year which they played last week, so we will draw upon that.”

On what the film told him about short yardage offense…

”Short yardage offense was not a strong suit. We had too many linebacker run throughs and safety run throughs. We have to do a better job with our offensive line keeping our eyes and our heads up to see those run throughs and hitting that movement. They gave us a lot of movement in general and typically that is a feast or famine type of defensive scheme. You are either going to make a big play in the backfield or have a big crease that you give up, but they did a nice job with those blitzes and we did not do a nice job picking them up.”

On the balance between asserting yourself on offense or taking what the defense is giving you…

”You have a plan going in based on what you have seen on tape and then you have to get a feel for what they are doing, if they have changed anything or what their M.O. is going to be in that particular game. And then when you get a lead it lends itself to running the ball more at the end of the game, so if the game is in the balance or you are playing catchup then you are going to be throwing the ball more instead of eight or nine straight runs. So, I don’t think we are that far off. When the game is in the balance and we are running the offense, I think it is pretty even, but it does get a little bit out of whack when you shut it down in the fourth quarter and run the football.”

On what he wants to accomplish in the last non-conference game…

”First of all, to win the game. As far as things getting sured up, I think we need to be better in short yardage situations or just converting those. We were outstanding in the red zone, we were 5-for-5, with no field goal attempts, so I would like to see where Jadon Redding is and give him a few shots. Although, we would rather not because we would rather score touchdowns, but it would be nice to see him kick a few field goals this week. Defensively, I think we are doing a pretty good job. There isn’t really one glaring area that needs to get fixed, so just keep playing consistently there.”

On playing FCS schools and if it benefits his team…

”There is a some debate out there on whether or not you should play FCS teams. I think it certainly benefits the FCS school financially because it is a pay day for them. We’ve done a lot of those FCS schools in state like Weber State and Southern Utah in years past. I think that there needs to be some uniformity with the Power Five schools, but right now there is no guidelines or mandates, you just do whatever you want in scheduling those three non-conference games, so I don’t have a great answer for that. I would like to see it be uniform and be a standard situation with not only that but also with conference games and scheduling.”

On Julian Blackmon’s transition to safety…

”It is always the priority is getting the best configuration out there. We didn’t always have it in the back of our mind to move him to safety, but as things evolved and he kept getting bigger, he has made a great transition. He looks like a natural and he has a couple of interceptions already. He is where he is supposed to be as far as his positioning and he has a great natural instinct for that position. He is a ball hawk and has very good ball skills. It makes sense for us to get our best five out there. Tareke Lewis has held up and Josh Nurse has played very well for us on the outside, so far. A lot bigger tests to come.”

On what is standing out about Tyler Huntley this season compared to years past…

”His confidence. He has a great deal of confidence right now in what he is doing. He has a great grasp of what Andy’s scheme is all about. Andy has done a great job with Tyler. He is in the top-10 in the nation in QBR which is what you pay attention to. That is the best analytic or evaluation on how your quarterback is helping your team out and contributing. That says a lot for him. He is making good decision, he is being patient and he isn’t trying to force the ball into spots he shouldn’t be forcing it. He is being very judicious with his running. He took one big shot a couple of weeks ago, but for the most part he is being much more intelligent in his run game when he carries the ball.”

On how starting his coaching career at Idaho State shaped him…

”I know it was an excellent experience for me because I was able to be the special teams coordinator the first four years and then the defensive coordinator those last two. I didn’t know a whole lot about special teams and our guy that was special teams coordinator resigned like a month or two ahead of the season, so I kind of just got thrown into that and it turned out to be a good experience. I coached the linebackers the entire time, so it was very good for my development and learning. I was a young coach that didn’t know what I was doing and was forced to learn pretty quickly.”

On if he remembers the first game at Utah when he was at Idaho State…

”It was our opener that very first year in 1988 and I think we hung around for a quarter or two and then got run out of the stadium, which is what you expect. I do remember that it was a pretty exciting experience for me to be in a stadium that size and play a team like Utah. The environment was pretty cool.”

On the backup quarterback spot and what he wants to see out of Jason Shelley and Drew Lisk…

”Well just performance in practice. Making good decision and running the offense the way it needs to be run. There are a lot of factors that go into that decision and Andy felt that last week Drew had a better week or preparation and had performed the best. It was close, wasn’t like it was a completely one-sided decision, but it is all about competition and Drew had an excellent week and he got the nod.”

On being the only team in FBS that hasn’t had a turnover or a sack…

”I think Andy’s philosophy on offense No. 1 rule is to take care of the football, and he has proven to do that in his first two weeks. Back to Tyler making good decisions with getting rid of the ball at the right time has helped with the no sacks, along with his elusiveness. He has had some times where a guy not as athletic as him might of gotten sacked, but because he is athlete he was able to get out of those situations. So, it isn’t something that will last forever, but it has been two good weeks of that. We would love to extend it, but realistically it isn’t something we can do all season.”

On analyzing the running backs behind Zack Moss and how they are progressing…

”Jordan Wilmore is very dynamic. I was giving him a lot of accolades in fall camp and we still feel the same way. He is a guy that has an elusiveness to him and a great vision. He is powerful, a lot like Zack Moss in a lot of respects. We are just really impressed with him so far. Devin Brumfield is tough as nails and an exceptional pass protector. If you watch closely in the game you could see him take some of those blitzes and stonewall the guy. Smart player and an exceptional special teams guy as well. Devonta’e Henry-Cole has some speed and quickness to him as well and is a lot like Jordan as far as low center of gravity. TJ Green just barely got healthy. He has been out for a couple of weeks. He was starting to come on at the end of last season. He isn’t back to where he needs to be yet though. And then Derrick Vickers is part slot receiver part running back and there will be packages for him specifically. He will line up in the backfield sometimes. Andy has said this before that he has a way of maximizing and finding a role for everybody who has a contribution to make, so hopefully you are starting to see that with Vickers and the beginnings of what he can do.”

On creating the culture that allows players to graduate in the middle of their senior year…

”We emphasize it. Usually what you emphasize is what you are going to get. We put a premium on academics and education, not saying we are the only ones to do that, but we continually harp on it and preach it. We have an outstanding academic support team that are on top of their game with the tutors and learning specialists. They are very committed and devoted to what we are doing. And then our players, it has been engrained in our culture and it is a source of pride for them here. It is not uncool to be a good student here – it is cool to be a good student, which is great to see. The main reason they are here is to graduate.”

On social media being a big part of recruiting now…

”Social media is a huge part of recruiting. Not only for us to have a social media staff to put our brand out there, but to have our assistant coaches be tuned in to social media is good. I stink, but I get guided in the right direction. But it is a huge part, might be the biggest part, in recruiting now.”