Utah coach Kyle Whittingham met the media in Salt Lake City today to talk about the game Saturday night against UW.
Opening statement: “Two weeks in a row now. It was probably the best offensive production of the season. The most complete game offensively. I thought we did some good things. We ran the ball efficiently. We threw the ball very efficiently, took care of the football – we had the one turnover – but otherwise took good care of the football. Defensively, we played well. I thought the plan on both sides of the ball – all three phases – the coordinators came up with excellent plans and of course our players did a great job executing those plans, so I thought that it was another positive step for us. We still have a lot of deficiencies and still have a lot of things to work on, but it was a good week for us.
“Moving on now to a tough road trip to Seattle. Play the Huskies, who have played well at home. They beat two top-10 teams at their place this year. It will be another good test for us. Our backs are still at the wall and they’ll remain that way through the rest of the season. That’s our approach, that’s not going to change, we just have to keep fighting our way back. That’s where we’re at.”
On the offense the past two weeks: “I think it’s the evolution of our quarterback, Travis Wilson. I think Brian Johnson is starting to feel more comfortable. I think the offensive line has continued to improve. You’ve got guys making plays. Very few mistakes. We’re not dropping footballs and committing ignorant penalties. I think it’s all the way around. John White is back on track. Another 100-yard game for John. I think there are a lot of factors that have gone into the offensive production the last couple of weeks. I think this week was much more productive than last week overall. Last week we did score 49, but I think three of those touchdowns were non-offensive where this week it was just the one Reggie Dunn return. We could have had 600 yards of offense. I put the brakes on the offense about midway through the third, otherwise we would have had even more impressive totals, but it’s not necessary to do that. The next step is a signature road win, and I think this is a great opportunity. I think that’s the next step not only for Travis but for our football team. That’s something we need to shoot for and achieve.”
On Reggie Dunn: “He has played a bigger role for us on offense the last few weeks as well. He had more snaps Saturday on offense than I think he’s had all year. Whether they kick to him or not – I didn’t think they’d kick to him last week and they did. I can’t say for sure whether or not they will kick to him, but they certainly have to think twice about it. It’s something you have to take into consideration. We’ve got to get the ball in his hands a little bit more on offense as well and we’re trying to do that.”
On the defense: “As I mentioned last week, it was very rare that we have a stop the pass first mentality. This week reverts back to more of a normal game plan and trying to stop the run and get that under control and then worry about disrupting the quarterback. Very proud of the defensive effort last week until the last play of the game. I thought the defensive coaches, they spent hours in the film room, as we all do, but they came up with a very good plan and a way to get pressure. I think we had five sacks in the first half. I thought it was an outstanding plan and outstanding execution by the players.”
On defensive end Joe Kruger: “I think Joe is really starting to come into his own. For three or four weeks he had an injury that was bogging him down, but now he’s completely better. He really got good pressure on the quarterback and got good pressure off the edge. (Defensive coordinator) Kalani Sitake really did a good job scheming for Joe, let him move around and come at them from different angles and locations, and Joe did a nice job with that opportunity and ended up getting good pressure. We sacked him five times but he was under duress several other times where we affected the throw, and a lot of that was due to Joe Kruger.”
On preparing for Washington’s Austin Seferian-Jenkins: “He’s a tremendous receiving tight end. No one has really had a great answer for him. We have some players who we hope will be decent matchups. Trevor Reilly is 6’5″ so that might be a decent match there. Brian Blechen is 6’2″-plus so we’ve got some guys with size in the back and at linebacker. He’s a guy he’s got a knack – even when he’s not open, they throw it up and his basketball background comes into play with his receiving ability, particularly in traffic, he’s got to go up and get the ball.”