Go Utes!
Go Utes!
Quotes from Kyle Whittingham's Weekly Press Conference

Sep 3, 2013

Opening Statement:
We got off to a good start to the season with the win against Utah State. I thought it was a great effort by our guys from start to finish. We weren't real efficient throughout parts of the game, but we did enough to get the win and hung in there until the bitter end, and it was good -- really good -- to get that win under our belt.

Moving forward to Weber State, this week we've got a lot of things to address that we've got to get better at, and that's our focal point, obviously, is taking care of our deficiencies and trying to strengthen those.

I think there were seven or eight FBS teams that got beat by FCS teams this past weekend, so that certainly will get our players' attention. We know that we've got to play well, and Weber's coming off a big win. They put up a lot of offense and they rushed the ball extremely well, and really put up a lot of points. We've got our work cut out for us on defense, but like I said, more than anything this week, we've got to fix what we're not doing so well.

On Travis Wilson:
I saw a lot of growth and maturity compared to last season. Now, we saw that same growth and maturity during spring ball and throughout fall camp, but obviously he hadn't had a chance to show it in a game until this past week. He made great decisions. He threw the ball very efficiently. He was over 300 yards on only 28 attempts, which is outstanding if it only takes you 28 attempts to get over 300 yards. He took care of the ball as far as not turning it over with interceptions, and just ran the offense. He did a good job of staying poised and making sure that the offense ran as we wanted it to.

One game doesn't a season make, but we got some really good things in the first game out of all aspects of the throwing game, with the protection, the route structures and where Travis put the ball.

Better decision-making, a little more patience, more command of the offense. He understands concepts a little better than he did last year. Coach Erickson has streamlined things a little bit so it's a little easier to grasp, and we're just trying to play to Travis' strengths.



He's a better runner than people give him credit for, as I've said over and over, and I think we saw that a couple times in the game on Thursday night where he escaped the pocket and made some big plays. He made a big first down for us in the 4-minute offense, running that Q-power where he got the necessary first down yardage, so he is a guy that is much improved and we need to see that trend continue.

On the offense:
Well, it wasn't an effort thing at all. There's no question that we had great effort from all the players throughout the entire game, so that was something that was a positive. We've got to do a better job getting movement on our offensive line. Utah State did a good job slanting and gap exchanging and we've got to be able to pick that up.

We didn't handle the blitz very well. They pressured us a bunch -- over 50 percent of the time -- so we've got to do a better job of not only picking up blitzes but exploiting. When people blitz, you've got to be able to have an answer and be able to make them pay for that. Those are two of the areas right there.

I didn't think we ran the football violently enough. The run game needs to be more productive and more physical. But there were a lot of good things. I don't want to put too much of a negative spin on the game, but there's a lot to work on.

On the receivers and losing Kenneth Scott:
KW: Well, Anthony Denham and Sean Fitzgerald stepped up big time in the game. They were our number one and two receivers as far as statistics after all was said and done, so I thought they both responded.

It's a big loss losing Kenny Scott. Him and Dres (Anderson), as we've mentioned several times throughout the course of camp and game week, they're our two best receivers. They had separated themselves from the rest of the group, but both Fitzgerald and Denham both stepped up and really performed well for us Thursday night.

In addition, we've got to get the tight ends more involved. Jake Murphy and Westlee Tonga are two of our best playmakers, and as coaches, I think we need to do a better job featuring those guys, get them the ball more and make them more impactful to the game.

On getting off to a 2-0 start:
Well it's a big deal on a couple different levels. One, as you mentioned, before Pac-12 play begins, and two, with the schedule, how it lays out this year, with a bunch of home games in the beginning half of the schedule, we need to gain some momentum. And I think it's important that we take advantage of the home schedule early in the season because it gets very difficult as the season goes on.

On the defensive backfield:
Effort, yes. Outcome, not so much. Chuckie Keeton had a big day throwing the football. Our techniques were a little bit sloppy, our zone drops. And it wasn't all the defensive backs. The linebackers didn't have the route awareness that we need in the zone coverages. Defensive line, I think, can get a better pass rush, which will speed things up for us. Overall, our pass defense was very, very below average, I guess you could say.

On the run game:
As I mentioned, we've got to be more efficient. We got some yards, 140 or somewhere in that range, but our yards per carry wasn't good enough. We had too many plays that were stalemated, where we had little or no gain. The goal-line stand was disappointing. We had a chance to get a touchdown there late in the game, and we end up settling for a field goal. There are just a lot of things that we need to clean up.

I don't think it was a scheme issue. We had a solid rushing attack as far as the schematics. We just have to be more violent and be better at what we're doing in the run game.

"Bubba" (James Poole) and Kelvin are 1 and 1A as we mentioned last week, and they're both on equal footing. They really both bring a different skill set to the table. Karl Williams is not far behind the other two. He's got his role as well. We think he's a good addition to those two guys. Then Lucky Radley, who you didn't get to see much of at all in the game on Thursday, is still a guy that we think can help us out.

On making improvements against Weber State:
Football coaches, they study film, they look for weaknesses, and if you can't handle the blitz or hit movement on your offensive line or cover a fade with your corners, they're going to try to exploit everything that we didn't do very well. We've got to get that addressed, or else you're going to keep seeing it week after week, and that's the nature of coaching. You see a soft spot in their PAT field goal protection, you're going to go right at it.

The main objective this week, like I said, is to shore up those areas of weakness that we had in the Utah State game.

On Andy Phillips:
Outstanding. I was bragging on Andy through fall camp, but with an asterisk saying he'd never kicked in a game yet, and don't get too excited about things at this point, but now he's kicked in a game and that's translated from practice to the game.

The onside kick that he executed to near-perfection was really the play of the game. I think that was the biggest momentum-changer and the thing that sparked us. For a kid that had never played in a football game at any level in any circumstances -- he'd been a skier and a soccer player -- he showed phenomenal poise and mental toughness. I couldn't be more pleased with what he did.

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