Everything Utah's Kyle Whittingham said after 42-32 loss to UCLA
A five-game winning streak over UCLA was snapped on Saturday as No. 11 Utah fell to the 18th-ranked Bruins 42-32 at the Rose Bowl. Utah played well offensively, but it couldn’t get stops when it needed them. Coach Kyle Whittingham met with reporters after the game to talk about exactly that.
Here’s everything Whittingham said after the game. (Video of the press conference will be added below when available.)
“That’s a really good football team we played today. They deserve a ton of credit. They’re athletic, fast, they have a lot of length. They were as advertised. I thought we did some good things, particularly on offense. I thought Cam (Rising) played well. He threw for nearly 300 (300) and gave us another 60 rushing, 70 if you take away a couple of the sacks. Devaughn Vele had had another big day with nearly 100 yards.
“The whole problem really in the second half was that we couldn’t get any stops. The stop we did have we got roughing the passer, so that was really our chance to get right back in it and take the lead. We made that mistake and didn’t seem to recover from that. We couldn’t get a stop the rest of the way.
“Again, they’re a good team, 6-0 for a reason, and we’ve got to now bounce back. Very eerily similar situation to last year at about this time. I can’t remember exactly what the situation was record-wise but very similar at 4-2. I would be willing to bet a lot of money that no one goes through this conference undefeated, there are too many good teams. By no means are we out of contention and the key now is for us to pick ourselves up and go back to work on Monday.”
On the run defense
“Our run defense was pretty good for the most part, it was the big plays that killed us. Lose a gap and whenever we lost a gap, they exploited that. We missed too many tackles and we had a few breakdowns. They had a bunch of big plays both in the receiving game and the rushing game. That really is what did us in was their big play capability.”
On the roughing the passer call in the third quarter that negated a defensive three-and-out
“Who knows how it would have turned out. That play didn’t cost us the game. I don’t want to paint that picture, but we had complete momentum there and had we got the stop, we would have got the ball back coming off a touchdown drive and you never know. Did that one play cost us the game? No. It never comes down to one play. At that point in the game that was a critical play because we had momentum and we lost it just like that.”
On Tavion Thomas
“Tavion played his best game of the year. We were leaning on him quite heavily for a while there. We got to the point where we needed to start throwing it, but proud of the way he played. He caught the ball well out of the backfield. Hopefully he can stay in a positive direction and be a force for us. It was around this time last year that he started to get some traction and really started to become a major player for us.”
On if he thought the defensive performance resembled that of the Florida game
“A little different today. The quarterback run game of Florida was damaging. That wasn’t so damaging today. It wasn’t a ton of yards, 17 net, it wasn’t a big deal like the (Anthony) Richardson kid from Florida. The big plays of over 30 yards, it was more than we usually give up. Credit them they’ve got really good athletes. Chip (Kelly) has done a good job of putting everything together. He’s got a fifth-year quarterback, and this is a year that they can really flourish.”
On preparation for road games compared to home games
“I think our process is good. It’s the same process we have always used, and it works. We do things that we believe in. You don’t panic and try to pull out some gimmicks, that usually works in the reverse direction.”
On where they go from here
“We talked about that in the locker room. This is very reminiscent of last year and we picked ourselves up off the mat last year and regrouped. It’s about how you respond. Everyone would love to go undefeated but at the end of the day there’s probably one undefeated team in the country. You’ve got to respond. Everyone’s got to respond from losses at one point or another, you just hope it’s not too often.”