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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

October 4, 2011 at 11:12 AM

Whittingham says Utes “couldn’t get any movement” up front

It’s always interesting to hear what the coaches on the other side have to say following games, especially with a little time to soak it all in.

So I asked Utah’s Kyle Whittingham a few questions today on the Pac-12 Coaches Conference Call about what he saw out of the Huskies on Saturday.

In particular, I was curious what he thought of UW’s ability to stop the run on defense and establish the run in the second half on offense, which were probably the two most impressive things about UW’s win — the Huskies rushed for 185 yards against a Utah defense that remains ranked fourth in the conference in run defense at 105.8, and held Utah’s run to 17 yards on 23 carries overall (and 36 by its two running backs in 15 attempts).

Said Whittingham of his team’s offensive troubles: “We couldn’t get any movement on the line of scrimmage, that’s the thing that we could not do. They played very well on the front seven. They did load the box up quite a bit and put that seventh and eighth guy in the box depending on the formation, and that makes the run game very difficult when you are in a minus-one situation offensively in the box. But the most important thing is that we were not able to get any movement or knockoff with our offensive line, and when you can’t run the ball everything else becomes very difficult. We didn’t fare very well offensively, turned the ball over five times, one of those turnovers on special teams, but five turnovers nonetheless, and three turnovers in the red zone, which when you play a team as good as the Washington Huskies are you are not going to win turning the ball over five times, it’s just not going to happen.”

UW’s run defense was bolstered by the play of Semisi Tokolahi, who saw his most significant action since breaking and dislocating his ankle last year in the Apple Cup, giving the Huskies two players listed at 330 pounds or more up the middle (regular nose tackle Alameda Ta’amu being the other).

Said Whittingham: “Yeah, (they were) very sturdy up front, particularly inside. The Ta’amu kid and the other guy who was in there with him, they are good, good players and they play hard and the second half there when we fell behind and we had to start throwing the ball every down — I think we only rushed the ball 16 times as far as called runs, and that’s not enough to win a game, that’s not enough balance in your offense — and we’ve got to do a better job of being able to run the ball and being able to establish something on the ground.”

The other big key to UW’s win was its rushing attack — Washington’s 185 was a season high with 154 coming in the second half (which would have been a season-high by itself). Chris Polk accounted for basically all of it with 189 yards on 29 carries.

Whittingham, asked what the difference was in the two halves, said: “Nothing scheme-wise. We just did a very poor job defensively of getting off blocks and tackling in the second half. We did an excellent job in the first half, they had only 35 or 40 yard rushing in the first half and to end up with 185, that’s a huge discrepancy, obviously. We didn’t do anything in the first half differently in the second half from our standpoint, and there was no major scheme changes form their standpoint, as well. It was just Polk got some momementum and started running the ball down our throat and that’s uncharacteristic of our front seven. That’s probably the worst half of run defense we have played in a lot of years so we have to get that fixed or it is going to be a long season.”

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