Kyle Whittingham Weekly Press Conference: Southern Utah
SALT LAKE CITY – University of Utah head football coach Kyle Whittingham held his weekly press conference of the 2022 season on Monday, meeting with members of the media inside the Spence and Cleone Eccles Football Center.
Selected quotes from Coach Whittingham can be seen below.
"It was a tough, physical game down in Gainesville and it was what we expected. They are an outstanding football team and their quarterback is an outstanding player and they are physical and fast and they are everything you expect from an upper level SEC team. It was a hostile environment as it was loud, but nothing took us by surprise. We were expecting everything we got from the atmosphere and the matchup. A lot of good things came out of the game. I thought the offense played well, with the one glaring exception of red zone production. Had we been productive in the red zone, I think that we win the game. We were in the red zone six times and came away with three touchdowns and that isn't good enough. Florida was in the red zone three times and came away with touchdowns all three times. That was the biggest difference in the game. Offensively we took care of the football, besides the last interception and had good production and ran the football well in the second half, but you judge the game as a whole and not in segments. Defensively is a different story, we weren't very good and that's the bottom line. We were far too soft in the run game and missed too many tackles and not good enough in the red zone. It was disappointing to see our defense not play as well as they are capable of and that starts with us we need to coach them better. You have to put this behind us. We had our chances to win. If we make one play on defense at the end, one more play on offense we win the game. We didn't get it done, they did and they are a good football team and I expect them to win a bunch of games. We need to move on and get ready to play this week. Its going to be great playing in front of our home crowd in Rice-Eccles Stadium and its something we look forward too."
On the travel home from the game
"In my 30 years of coaching it was the most nightmarish situation that I have ever come across. I guess, I'll leave it at that. It was one thing after another. We didn't get home until last night around 8-8:30 p.m. I feel bad for the players. When you play a physical game like that one and have no time to rest or recover. I feel bad for the players for having to have to go through that."
On the goal line stand in the first half
"Our staff looks at every play and its not like if you don't challenge it its not being reviewed. Every play is being reviewed. Every single play is being reviewed but the reply guys are looking at things and if they see something that is questionable they stop and keep looking and nobody up there thought that or had a vantage point where they should have been challenged by us. I have seen the play on tape and its questionable on tape."
What issues did you identify in the red zone game
"We fell down on a couple plays previous. We had a walk in with a play to our left side but Tavion (Thomas) tripped on Cameron (Rising) knee and fell down, otherwise I think he gets in. The last fourth and goal they made a nice stop on Tavion that kept him out of the endzone. As we reexamine it we can be more creative play calling wise and that is the first thing coach Ludwig would tell you maybe we aren't as vanilla down there but last year were a very good red zone team but we need to give a lot of credit to Florida with what they did down there."
On improving the run defense
"There wasn't one particular play that sticks out. The quarterback obviously hurt has he had 100-yards rushing and that was a big part of it. A lot of his yards came off broken pass plays and so it wasn't just tradition run plays. We were just to soft overall and the gap control was sloppy. The run fits were not good."
On the interception to end the game
"Dalton (Kincaid) fell down and that who Cam was going too. It was a little turn route and Dalton fell down. They played a nice scheme with two little rat players in the red zone. That was their coverage of choice down there. The inside rat player did a good job and I don't think Cam saw him. I haven't talked to him about it but I saw the tape and have talked to Coach Ludwig about it."
On the defense
"You make changes if you think you have guys that are better, that aren't playing that need an opportunity. If you are questioning your personal then you need to give guys at practice more of a look but we just need to get better across the board in our front seven. The front seven was not what we were used too. It was sloppy, that I keep going back too. It was sloppy technique wise, sloppy fundamentals, sloppy tackling, and sloppy fits. We were not in the right places at the right time and when we were there we missed tackles. We missed 27 tackles in the game, which is way high for us as we are usually in single digits."
On the linebacker's performance on Saturday
"They need to play better and they were the incorrect run fits. They did matchup in the route combinations that needed to at times. They left some guys open and over ran some things. They weren't real discipline there."
On the wide receivers heading into the next game
"We would like to see more production on the outside but we sure got great production from Brant (Kuithe) and Dalton (Kincaid) added a couple of catches. Those guys are going to be as focal as much as much as a focal point in the throw as the wide receivers because they are so talented. It is going to be a combination of Devaughn (Vele) needs to have more of a presence in the game and credit the Florida's DBs. They are quick and fast. Those corners are outstanding. That is as good of a personal as we may see all year long. They have excellent personal."
On Utah's offensive line against Florida.
"I thought they played very well. I thought they played very well in the first game of the season, and against the level of the opponent. We didn't play as well in the first half as we did in the second half but we allowed zero sacks. Cam had plenty of time on the drop backs. He left the pocket a couple of times where he didn't need too because the protection was clean and he had a clean pocket but I give them a B+ grade at least."
On past September loss and turning it around
"We need to learn from what we did wrong and correct the mistakes. We need to continue to work hard and not ever change our work habits based on the opponent. You have to prepare the right way and everyone needs to get better. I really like this team and this team has a bunch of wins in them this year. We will see how are we can take it but one game early in the season is not going to derail that as long as the leadership stays strong and everyone stays focus, which I don't see any reason why they wouldn't happen.
On no moral victories
"We need to be proud of the effort and they played hard from the start to finish for the full 60. We needed to make one more play on D or one more play on O and be better in the red zone. We point out why we lost and it wasn't because of lack of effort or lack of competitiveness or heart any of that stuff and then you move forward."
On the impact of Chris Curry
"It's a credit to him and his toughness as he sees the big picture and a team guy. He is not running away when the competition gets stiff. I am proud of Chris and I am a Chris Curry fan. I think he is a great teammate and a great guy to have as one of your leaders. Players respect him and he gave us meaningful snaps and gave us some nice runs and that speaks to that will stay the course and stick it out."
Utah opens its home slate on Saturday, Sept. 10, when they host Southern Utah for its annual Hall of Fame game. The Utes and Southern Utah will kick off at 11:30 a.m. MT on Pac-12 Networks.
To get an inside look at the Utah Football program, follow the Utes on social media (Twitter: @Utah_Football | Instagram: @UtahFootball | Facebook: Search Utah Football), along with visiting www.UtahUtes.com for news, schedule and roster updates throughout the season.