Coaches’ Corner: Quinton Ganther and Lewis Powell
SALT LAKE CITY – Homecoming week is here, and as such it's fitting that Coaches' Corner spotlight a pair of Utah Football alumni heading into Saturday's noon kickoff with Oregon State as we visit with running backs coach Quinton Ganther and defensive ends coach Lewis Powell.
The Utes are looking to carry the momentum forward from a Pac-12-opening win at Arizona State this past weekend, as well as flip the script from last year's matchup at Oregon State—a 42-34 setback up in Corvallis.
"These guys got us last year," said head coach Kyle Whittingham on Tuesday. "They outplayed us. Offense played well [last year at Oregon State], but we didn't do a whole lot on defense and not a whole lot on special teams. Hopefully we play better this year. They're an excellent football team, played USC right down to the wire. They're well-coached, they're tough, they're physical. There's a lot of similarities between the two programs."
Whittingham also was excited about the earlier kickoff time for Saturday's matchup at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
"We love day games," he said. "It's a noon kickoff, we had one other kickoff earlier…This is exactly what we hoped for, should be great weather, 65 degrees, 70 degrees, perfect."
Ganther and Powell this week shared some insight into how their respective groups have progressed four games into the season.
Running Backs Coach Quinton Ganther
On Jaylon Glover's performance Saturday…
"It was good to see. [Jaylon's] a young man who came in and has worked hard since he's been here. I'm happy to see him carry the torch and lead us in the time we needed it."
Is Glover starting to show what he's capable of? How much is left?
"I don't know how much is left, but I'm going to milk him for everything that is in him."
On Ja'Quinden Jackson's next steps in progression at running back…
"The kid is already naturally gifted. He just has to learn the nuances of the position. He'd only had two days of practice. I congratulate him for taking it seriously with two days of work. That's hard to do; get thrown in the fire and have two days of work. I appreciate him for the work he's put in."
On assessing Micah Bernard…
"What I see from him is accountability. If you can count on a guy, you can put him in any situation. He's a smart kid. He can get us out of jams when we need him. He's Steady Eddie. I love that kid."
On challenges for Jackson going back to running back…
"The challenge is getting out of that quarterback mindset and getting into a running back mindset. Even with him playing [running back] in high school and earlier in his career, he did look at it from the lens that I try to get these guys to see it from. He's starting to get it and starting to understand it. One of the biggest things about the position is the protection. He understood the protection from the offensive line point of view and the quarterback point of view, but he didn't understand where the running backs go. That is going to be the biggest challenge, getting the footwork and everything down pat. He's used to giving [handoffs], not taking them. We have to get all that together as well."
Is there an advantage to having that knowledge as a quarterback?
"It's always an advantage if you can see the game through a different lens and bring it to the group. That's always a big thing."
Defensive Ends Coach Lewis Powell
On the team adjusting now being four weeks into the season…
"I think we're adjusting well. The young guys have learned a lot throughout the first four games. They understand that the task is pretty physical [this week]…probably one of the best teams in our conference. We're excited for the challenge."
On sack numbers and a possible correlation with physicality…
"We're trying to always stop the run first, then get after the quarterback. We're probably doing a good job stopping the run to have five sacks [at Arizona State]. But obviously, we want as many sacks as we can get, after we stop the run."
On what changed in stopping the run between Florida and Arizona State…
"There's a lot that changed between those games. Guys on our defense just understanding their role, how they fit in our scheme, what they need to do. It was exciting for them to get better every single week. We went from Florida, to Southern Utah, to San Diego State, now Arizona State. Hopefully we continue to make progress and see good improvement in our fundamentals, technique and understanding of our scheme."
Utah will return to Rice-Eccles Stadium for its annual Homecoming game on Saturday, Oct. 1 when they take on the Oregon State Beavers. The game will air on Pac-12 Networks at 12 p.m. MT.
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.