Kyle Whittingham Weekly Press Conference (Nov. 22)
SALT LAKE CITY – University of Utah football head coach Kyle Whittingham met with members of the media on Monday morning inside of the Spence and Cleone Eccles Football Center.
The full press conference can be viewed here, and selected quotes from Coach Whittingham can be seen below.
The No. 16 Utes (8-3, 7-1 Pac-12) are coming off a huge win taking down No. 3 Oregon 38-7 Saturday night. The win clinched the South Division championship and will send the Utes to play in the Pac-12 Championship game on Dec. 3rd in Las Vegas.
Utah now turns their attention to the Colorado Buffalos (4-7, 3-5 Pac-12) as they'll welcome them to Rice-Eccles Stadium for their regular season finale and Senior Day this Friday Nov. 26th. Kick off is set for 2:00 p.m. MT and will be aired of FOX.
"First of all, big shout out to our fan base for the game Saturday night. It was an incredible atmosphere and the environment was as good as it's ever been. I really appreciate our fans for coming out and supporting our guys and I hope they enjoyed the game. It is something we'd like to continue to repeat, having that same environment in Rice-Eccles."
"To start out I'd like to shout out Devin Lloyd as well. He has been named a finalist for the Butkus Award…and in the next couple of weeks it will be coming down to the wire. We are really proud of Devin and what he has done for us here at Utah. He's having a terrific year, definitely one of the top linebackers in the country and deserving of being a finalist for the Butkus Award."
"I thought our guys played really well Saturday night in all three phases. The real objective defensively was to take away the run and I think our guys did that without question. We help them (Oregon) to 60 and some odd yards and really played sounds defensive front football. I thought that some of the biggest stretches of the game were when we took over with about 2:05 left on the clock in the first half and put together another outstanding two-minute drive and score to go up 21-0. Similar to what we did last week against Arizona. After the ensuing kick-off, we get a three and out are able to have the biggest play of the game and the second critical element of the game - that was Covey's punt return. That was a huge momentum builder going into halftime and if you had to pinpoint one play in the entire game that was key, it would have been that one. The final situation was when we came out and for the second half and didn't have a very good opening drive with our defense. They went down and scored but our offense promptly went down the field, answered to go up 35-7 and it was pretty much over at that point. So, I'm really proud of our guys. Offense for, I'm not sure how many weeks in a row and I sound like a broken record where they've been outstanding, only had eight possessions. We didn't pile up the yardage…but 38 points on eight possessions is really good."
"Special teams, other than the Covey punt return, were solid. We only punted twice and did a nice job in those situations. Kick off coverage was solid, had a couple kick-off returns and we haven't had many opportunities in that this year but did some good things in those returns. Made all of our PAT's, made our field goal and overall it was a positive night."
"It's important that we take first things first and don't get ahead of ourselves. Regardless of the situation, we can't sit here and worry about who might and might not play in a couple weeks. That's not the point of emphasis and the focus. The focus is the Colorado Buffalos and they are playing good football. They beat Washington the other day and so we have to turn all of our attention, all of our focus and all our effort to the Colorado Buffs – which we will."
On the leaders on the team and their development…
"Well we've had outstanding leadership and we've needed it. We've been through, as we all know, some absolutely horrific events and the leaders have stepped up and I couldn't be more proud of how they've handled things. That's the mark of a really good football team, it's really good leadership and right now we are playing really good football. I attribute a great deal of that to the leaders on the football team."
On the Pac-12 needs to do to get back into the CFP…
"Well the Pac-12 is very competitive and very balanced. Nobody has had that breakout year where you go through the league unblemished and through the season undefeated. That's pretty much what it takes with the four-team format. We've just been beating each other up a little bit and I think when they do make the move…they'll expand and I think that will make things a better situation, not just for us, but for the entire country."
On how Whittingham views Colorado…
"They have four wins this year…they've had ups and downs this season as we've all had, but they are well coached and they have some good players. They are coming off a win against Washington, which gives them momentum a lot like when we played Arizona a couple weeks ago. They were really juiced up for the game and were ready to go. I expect that to be the same thing from the Buffalos."
On if the defensive line has reached another level after their play against Oregon…
"I would say relative to that, yes. Are we a finished product yet or where we need to be? No. We're still not quite as big and strong as we need to be. We have some freshman kids that next year, will be 10-15 pounds heavier and stronger. I think that's really going to be a boost for us. Relative to some of the struggles that had earlier in the season, we're playing much better football right now upfront. As you saw in the game we started three freshman – Aliki Vimahi at tackle, Junior Tafuna at tackle and and Van Fillinger out at end – and those guys just seem to be getting better and better as the weeks go by. Again, we have work to do, the future is very bright at that position, but right now we've made a lot of progress from game one to where we are now but we need to continue taking steps forward."
On the success of the offensive line…
"It took us a minute to get things situated. We lost Jaren Kump for the season and had to shuffle the deck a few times. But then we had guys getting better, stepping up and improving their play and it's a credit to them and coach Harding for getting that done. They were also maligned early in the season and that kind of challenged them and they responded."