Coaches’ Corner: Andy Ludwig and Morgan Scalley
SALT LAKE CITY – One regular season home game remains for the No. 13 Utah football team, with the Utes hosting Stanford inside Rice-Eccles Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 12. It'll be an 8 p.m. MT kickoff on ESPN and the game will serve as Senior Night for the Utes.
"Going in, it's all about the seniors this week," head coach Kyle Whittingham said on Tuesday. "That's the focal point; sending those guys out the right way. That's our objective every single year. This year is no different. We've had conversations about that in team meetings about everyone owing it to the seniors, everyone giving their best effort to make sure those guys end their careers in Rice-Eccles on a positive note."
For the final home game, it's a coordinator edition of Coaches' Corner. This week, Andy Ludwig visits with UtahUtes.com for a look at the offense and Morgan Scalley provides insight on the Utah defense.
Offensive Coordinator and Quarterbacks Coach Andy Ludwig
On assessing the offense as a whole in spite of injuries…
"It's been a great challenge. It's been very rewarding watching the players step up. It's been a different guy each week that has shown up. I'm proud of our players' efforts and the next-man-up mentality that this squad has."
On Nate Johnson vs. Stanford…
"That was fun to watch. You always wonder when you put a freshman in there for the first time in game nine; he responded well. The lights weren't too bright for him. He's a dynamic player and we look for that package to continue to grow."
On how to use Johnson the rest of this season with redshirt in mind…
"It'll be a balancing act through the remainder of the season, there's no doubt; picking and choosing the games or the spots in which we use him. I know one thing, we've got to make them count. We've got to make those reps count."
On how to make those reps count…
"You try to put the young man in a position for success, knowing his limited experience right now in college and drawing on some things he's done in high school and has some confidence in. He responded very well to that. I look for that to grow, with the P.S. knowing that we've got several games remaining and he's got three games left before he can't play anymore (or) burn a redshirt."
Defensive Coordinator and Safeties Coach Morgan Scalley
What did you see in Nate Johnson when running the scout team earlier this season?
"Number one, he's got a high football IQ. Gotta have that at the quarterback position. He's athletic. I don't know of a time where we've seen as many dual-threat quarterbacks in the Pac-12 as we have now. He did an unbelievable job getting us ready for some of that stuff. As much as we'd like to keep him over there giving us good looks, it's great to see him out there doing what he's doing for the offense."
On how his defense has progressed over the season…
"We've become a better tackling team. We've done much better at creating some pressure, getting some pressure on the quarterback and taking the ball away. Still giving up a little too many explosive plays for my liking, but that's on us as coaches. It's a fun group to coach because they don't complain. They do everything you ask them to do. You can see the progress every single week. We've got very good coaches as well on the defensive staff, so I'm lucky there. It's a joy to coach these guys."
On the road for Zemaiah Vaughn and his 2022 season…
"Quarterback from Beaumont, Texas. Really never played any type of secondary in high school. Came here, started at the safety position…he provides a lot in terms of the measurables. Now, he's just playing with a lot more confidence. He's going up against some really talented wide receivers and doing well. As that continues, he's going to continue to gain more confidence. That length provides issues."
On losing Van Fillinger to a season-ending injury…
"Big loss. I love that kid. It hurts anytime you lose a guy like that who (football) means that much to. He has worked so hard to get to where he is. He understands that having a negative attitude about the whole thing isn't going to help the healing process. We love him and we're there for him. He knows that, and we can't wait to get him back."
On Clayton Isbell and Sione Vaki…
"Clayton's become a more physical football player. He's gained confidence in his knowledge of the defense, which has allowed him to make more plays. It's what he struggled with a little bit early on. Man, has he been a big addition. Then Sione Vaki, you look at what he did against Washington State. Sometimes you know, sometimes you don't know what they're going to do. Karene Reid, we didn't know he was going to have the game that he had against Washington State last year…(Vaki) exceeded expectations and we're excited for his future."
The Utes will take on the Stanford Cardinal on Saturday, Nov. 12 in Rice-Eccles Stadium for their final home game of the year. The game will be Senior Night and kicks off at 8 p.m. MT on ESPN.
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.