Everything Kyle Whittingham said after Utah's win over USC
Utah pulled off a massive 43-42 win over No. 7 USC on Saturday to move to 5-2 on the season and stay in the thick of the Pac-12 title race. After the game, coach Kyle Whittingham met with reporters to break things down. Here’s everything he said, with video of the press conference at the bottom.
“That certainly has to go down as one of the most exciting games in Rice-Eccles history. What a performance by our football team. That’s a good football team that we beat, by the way. That is a really good team, talented, well-coached, quarterback’s tremendous, and the receiving corps is as good as there is in the country.
“We had our hands full and had a tough time getting stops on defense, particularly early in the game, but we made the one we needed most at the end. Still gotta figure out what’s going on with that clock. I mean, I don’t know. Someone’s gotta explain that to me.
“Offense, from start to finish, was outstanding. Cam Rising, competitor, warrior, you name it, he’s a champion. Dalton Kincaid, I don’t know what the record is for catches or yards by a tight end, but he has to be right there at that doorstep.
“Again the toughness and the guts and the grit, the sheer grit and determination of our football team to continue to hang in there, it’s just a joy to coach those guys. I love coaching this team. Proud to be associated with them.
“Statistically, like I said, a lot of fireworks. Both teams well over 500 yards. Cam had a terrific night, and running the football he always gives us those key yards and conversions with his legs every game. He seems to come up with something timely, incredible, just positive plays running the football.
“This keeps us in the race. We’ve still got a lot of football left. We’re 5-2 now and still in the hunt. I still believe that nobody will go through the Pac-12 schedule undefeated. The history has borne that out most years. We’ve just got to take it one game at a time and continue to get better as a team. Gotta figure out what we lacked on defense tonight and get that corrected, but they made the stop they had to make. That was the critical stop to win the football game.”
On the two-point conversion
“I talked to Andy (Ludwig) as the drive started and said if we score here and the clock close to expiring, we’re going for two. If there are a couple of minutes left, were gonna kick the PAT. So it played out exactly to our benefit as good as we could have hoped. When there were 35 seconds left, it was already predetermined. We knew the play call because we had talked about it at the onset of the possession.”
On if the win felt like like more than one win
“Well, they all count as one, but this seems like a pretty big win on a national stage, on FOX, against a top-10 team. Great for our brand, great for our program, university, and community. There are a lot of positives.”
On Cam Rising coming through
“We called a play that the ball would be in his hands to either find an open receiver or tuck it and get in the endzone, and he did just that. He has been so incredible for us ever since he took over in Game 4 or whatever it was last year. It’s just been a great feeling to have him at the controls of the offense.”
On if there was a turning point in the game
“I don’t think there was a turning point. I think it was just a matter of us continuing to fight and scratch and claw our way into the game. It was a scoring contest there, and you know field goals were not gonna be in the equation for this game. In fact, when we drove the football, I told Andy you’re in four-down territory once we hit midfield. That was the way this game was going. Field goals were going to get you off-pace and off-schedule. It was touchdowns or broke.
“Offense responded and made a bunch of first downs again. So, I don’t think there was one pivotal turning point. It was just a matter of staying after it, and a never say die attitude. We couldn’t be more proud of our guys. It was great to get that win with Ty Jordan and Aaron Lowe’s mothers here at the game. Internally we had dedicated this game to our fallen teammates, and how rewarding to be able to give those mothers the game ball in the locker room after the game.”
On whether there was a boost after the Jordan’s and Lowe’s parents received the game helmets
“Absolutely, and between the third and fourth quarters, the tribute we put up, that gives me a boost every game and I think our players feel the same way. It’s a great way to continue to remember those two young men.”
On Tavion Thomas
“The playcalls were such that we were just throwing the ball, throwing the ball, and his number didn’t come up much in that second half. Now, if he left the sideline I’ll have to research that but that’s the first I’ve heard of that.”
On confidence in Dalton Kincaid stepping up after Brant Kuithe’s injury
“I was very confident, but it wasn’t just Dalton, it was a few other guys as well. The tight end room has some talented young men in Munir McClain, Thomas Yassmin, and Logan Kendall, so it needed to be a concerted effort by three or four guys to pick up the slack for Brant. Those guys certainly did. Money Parks has been more of a contributor since Brant went down, as has Jaylen Dixon. Brant was a big part of our offensive production, but I think our players have done a good job of picking up the slack and in his absence making a bunch of plays.”
On the bye week arriving
“Great time to have a bye after an emotional win like this. The bye has come later this year than most years.”
On how much he thinks the win will boost confidence on defense
“Not much. We didn’t play our best on defense as evidenced by the stats, as evidenced by having a hard time getting stops in the first half. There was no lack of effort, no lack of running the football. We’ve just gotta be smarter and coach them better.”
On the offense
“Well, it’s great to have a high-powered offense. It all starts with Cam. The offensive line never gets enough credit, should mention them because they did a great job protecting the passer. They did a phenomenal job protecting. We ran the ball just enough to keep them off-balance.”
On halftime changes to get more pressure in the second half
“We just challenged the d-line to up the pressure and become more of a pass-rush mindset and getting better off the ball. That helped. We also dialed up a little more pressure in the second half and brought more five-, six-, seven-man pressures, and I think it was a combination of those things.”