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

Nov. 12, 2013

Opening statement:
Another tough loss in a close game. We've had six games this year decided by a touchdown or less. We're 3-3 in those games. Not good enough. Obviously we have to be better. I thought there were some bright spots. The defense played exceptionally well. Came up with six sacks and did a great job limiting a very prolific offense to very low numbers. Very impressed with the way the defense flew around and played. Got great pressure on the quarterback. Coverage up the field was another positive - the secondary. The progress of the secondary this year, they seem to take a step forward each week as the season has gone by. Special teams was another positive. Tom Hackett kicked the ball exceptionally well. We continue to lead the league in net punting, which is a field position weapon for us. Just a big advantage in the punt game, both ways - the punt game and the punt return game. Good to see Andy Phillips made a couple kicks - he actually made three kicks, we took one of them off the board. He resumed his positive kicking for us. Not a lot to talk about offensively. We didn't get much done. Give credit to the Arizona State defense. They played exceptionally well. It was another defensive struggle, much like the USC game. It was a tale of two defenses going at it and making plays, and not a lot of offensive fireworks on either side of the ball. That was really the deal. We have to play better on offense. We all understand that. We have to continue to play well on defense and special teams. We haven't arrived in those areas by any means, each week is a new challenge. There are some positives to come from the game, but we still have to find a way to get some more offense generated. That's been a problem of ours as of late.

On Stanford limiting Oregon's possessions:
Everyone would like to do that. That plays into Stanford's schemes very well. Two years in a row now they've gotten it done against Oregon. I did watch that game when it was being broadcast on Thursday. Stanford pounded them with the run game and converted a bunch of third downs. It seemed like every third down they had was 3rd and 1 because they had done such a good job running the football on first and second down. That's the best way to defend that offense, is to keep it on the sidelines. Stanford did a great job of that and played exceptionally well on defense in addition. Give credit to Stanford for having a great performance.



On the run game:
At times, we've been very potent in the run game, and we need that to happen [against Oregon]. You've got to control the football and keep their offense off the field. The thing about Oregon, they are exceptional. This is probably the best secondary we're going to see all season long. They've been tremendous in the back end. The offense gets a bunch of accolades for Oregon, and rightfully so, but their defense is every bit as good. They are leading the league in several defensive categories as well as offensive categories. So they are just like Arizona State, another complete football team.

The where the offensive line and the offense needs to improve:
Improved technique across the board. Too many mental errors. Way too many blown assignments. So many of the plays in the game on Saturday, we have missed assignments on the offensive line, and that's leading to lack of production. We've got to tighten things up, we've got to coach them better and it all starts with coaching and myself - I'm responsible for everything that goes on in the program. We have to do a better job preparing those guys. It wasn't any one particular position or player, it was across the board. Everyone took their turn making mistakes. And it wasn't just the offensive line. We weren't particularly good at any position on offense in the game on Saturday. The receivers didn't play well, the running backs were just average at best. It was just one of those days where nothing was going very well for us on that side of the ball.

On Travis Wilson against Arizona State:
He didn't have time [to throw the ball]. It's tough to get a good read on it because he didn't have any time. The rush was showing up and about 1.8 they're in his grill. In fairness to Travis, I don't think you can make an assessment on how he was throwing the ball. I know he threw it well all week in practice. If you don't give the guy a chance to throw the ball, you're not going to get a very good evaluation.

On Issac Asiata:
There's a chance that he'll play more. He did play in this game. He took about eight to 10 reps this game on Saturday, and he will play more. We're going to get him more involved. He graded out at 100 percent in his minimal reps. I've been an Asiata fan for a long time. He's just a redshirt freshman. Absolutely, Isaac will get more playing time.

On being in the same situation as last year:
I can tell you what, and I've said it one or two other times this season, we were a better football team this year than we were last year. The record does not reflect that. We went down to Arizona State last year and we just got shellacked. I think it was 40-6, or whatever. We're standing toe-to-toe with the best the conference has to offer, I said that in the press conference on Saturday night. But we've got to find a way to get more wins. We're more competitive, but it's not about being competitive. It's about getting W's. That's the next hurdle we got to get over is finding a way to win these games. But like I said, last year, a lot of the games we weren't even in. We made progress, but nobody cares unless you get the W. Nobody cares what else is going on.

On struggling at the start of games:
There was a stretch where we were starting fast on offense, but last week was certainly not one of those. Defensively as well. We didn't start particularly well on defense. We gave up a score again, which has happened quite often this season on the first drive. Starting fast has been something that has not been a strength of ours most weeks. To the defense's credit, they rallied up and they didn't give anything up until midway through the fourth quarter, unfortunately. The defense, had they been able to hold that lead, it would have been a masterpiece on defense. As it was, it was just a very good effort.

On Justin Thomas and the secondary:
Justin had an excellent week in practice, and Justin has been playing a bunch for us in the last three or four weeks and has continued to get better and better. He's been playing two roles for us, outside corner and nickel. We've had four guys that play those three spots. We have Davion Orphey and Keith McGill outside exclusively, Mike Honeycutt who plays inside exclusively, and then Justin is the swing guy. Justin has had a good enough week at practice we felt he deserved to get the start, so he started opposite Keith in place of Orphey, but then we brought Orphey in three or four series later and moved Justin inside. So he played two positions and got a lot of reps and did a good job. He did get beat on the touchdown late in the game, but the secondary as a whole, I'm very proud of how they played, but we still have to get better.

Keith had a great game Saturday, although I know he feels he should've come away with an interception or two. He was right there, and he just misplayed the ball a little bit and couldn't come down with it, but they were going at him with their best receiver, and Keith was lights out. He's got that great length, and that's why we moved him initially. He's got the 6-foot-3 height and he's got the biggest wingspan on the team and so much athleticism. He's a lot like Sean Smith. He's had great great progress. He's progressed from game one all the way through, and if he keeps it up, then he's going to play football for a long time.

On Oregon's offense:
Great weapons. The quarterback, I guess he got dinged up a little bit in the game, and we expect him to play. I haven't heard one way or another. It starts with the quarterback, one of the best, if not the best, in the country. In the Pac-12, we see just see one great quarterback after another week after week after week. He may be the best of them all.

De'Anthony Thomas, the running-back is tremendous. The receivers, the Huff kid, he's a great player. Their offensive line has been good for a lot of years, so they have a lot of weapons. Their tempo is another thing that's a weapon for them. They're as fast as anybody in the country as far as getting plays off. They have not missed a beat with a Chip going to Philadelphia. They've just picked up where they left off.

On Nate Orchard and the defensive line:
Very proud of Nate and the whole defensive line. We're among the nation's leaders in sacks and Nate and Trevor [Reilly] on the edges have done a great job. Tenny [Palepoi] inside is fantastic. Tenny plays great football for us week after week after week. [He's] so consistent.

In reference to Nate, he's become a complete player. We've been waiting for this for a couple of years. Last year, he did a lot of good things, but some weeks weren't as consistent as others. He's been very consistent for us this year. A hard worker, great attitude, and it's a real weapon having him and Trevor on those edges. Two athletic guys who can put pressure on the passer, along with Tenny inside, pushing the pocket as well as the other guys inside. L.T. Tuipulotu and -- we got Viliseni Fauonuku back last week, which really gave us a boost on defense. I'm proud of the defensive line and how they played this year. Credit to them, credit to their coach, Ilaisa Tuiaki.

On the team's mindset:
With the frustrating week we've had, we're very frustrated. It's been a very frustrating season overall. As I mentioned, we've closed the gap so significantly, but again, the record. You are what and who your record says you are, and our record is the same as last year, and so in that respect, the bottom line hasn't changed. But it's been frustrating in the fact that we know we're close. We know we're close and we're competing and we're slugging it out with the guys, toe-to-toe, that we're playing. But, you know, you got to pick yourself back up. It was a tough defeat, but life's all about picking yourself up and moving forward and taking on the next challenge, and that's what we're going to do. We're going to have a great week in practice, and my guess is the leaders will do just what they've been doing all year long and make sure that that happens.

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