Whittingham: Utes Take Another Step Forward In Pac-12 Play

Oct 1, 2022, 6:37 PM
Whittingham discusses what his team can take away from their lopsided win over the Thunderbirds. (Photo courtesy of Michelle Bodkin)
(Photo courtesy of Michelle Bodkin)

SALT LAKE CITY- Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham was overall pleased with the Utes’ effort against Oregon State, noting they took another step forward. While Utah had a pretty good grip on the game, the stats didn’t exactly show that in all phases. However, the throw game and interceptions were highlights for Whittingham, despite acknowledging a need to get the run game going offensively.

Utes Efficient Passing, Taking Away The Ball

Offensively, Cam Rising was masterful passing the ball around to all of Utah’s various receivers. In fact, he targeted nine different players in the throw-game despite being without one of his favorite targets in Brant Kuithe due to a season ending injury.

“Offense did a great job throwing the football, taking care of the ball,” Whittingham said. “Cam made a bunch of timely plays. Extremely happy with- didn’t throw for as many yards as I originally thought we did, but we were close to 80% completion percentage. We really had some clutch catches.”

“Our efficiency throwing the football on offense was our biggest positive,” Whittingham continued of the passing effort. “We didn’t throw it for a ton- maybe 200-yards-ish, but it was a very effective and efficient 200-yards. No drops- well, we had one drop, but it was a tough catch. We protected the football, we only had one turnover so that was a big positive.”

Defensively, it was all about cornerback Clark Phillips III who snagged three interceptions, one that set up a score to start the game, and one pick six. It was the first time a Utah defender had three interceptions in a game since safety Robert Johnson put the Utes on his back against Colorado State in 2009. Whittingham says Phillips III is a force out on the field largely due to his wheels and study habits.

“He’s got exceptional quickness and speed, first of all,” Whittingham said. “He’s not the biggest guy, but he’s built well and he’s physical when he needs to be. Speed and quickness is his big thing along with film study. Nobody studies more film than Clark and that leads to big plays.”

Whittingham was also happy with how the defense just hung in there even when things looked rough. Their resiliency and improvement in the second half really stood out to him.

“Pleased with the way our boys responded in the second half,” Whittingham said. “We didn’t play poorly in the first half per se, but it wasn’t our best football. Way too soft in the run game in the first half, we played much better run defense in the second half.”

Fixing The Run Offensively

Despite the positives of the game, Whittingham acknowledged the Utes need to get better running the ball. The run game, usually a strength, was the one glaring negative according to Whittingham, and will certainly be a big focus ahead of Utah’s upcoming trip to take on UCLA next week.

“Disappointing thing offensively was an inability to run the ball,” Whittingham said. “We could never really take over the line of scrimmage which is something we typically do. That was a negative for us.”



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