The 12th-ranked Utes didn’t have a complete game against Oregon State, but coach Kyle Whittingham liked the response to a poor first half with a dominant effort in the second half of Saturday’s 42-16 win. Utah held Oregon State to just three points in the second half, scored 21 unanswered at one point, and held the Beavers to just 70 yards in the fourth quarter.

With four takeaways and a clean game from quarterback Cameron Rising, the Utes improved to 4-1 on the year and 2-0 in Pac-12 play, picking up a fourth consecutive win by at least 20 points.

Here’s everything Whittingham said after the game when he met with reporters, with video of the full press conference below.

Opening statement

“I am pleased with the way our guys responded in the second half. We didn’t play poorly in the first half, but it wasn’t our best football. We were way too soft in the run game in the first half, but we buckled down and played better run defense in the second half. The offense did a great job of protecting the football and taking care of the football. Cameron (Rising) made a bunch of timely plays and was extremely accurate. We didn’t throw for as many yards as I originally thought we did, but we were close to 80% completion percentage, and we really had some clutch catches. Devaughn Vele had a good day.

“The disappointing thing on offense was the inability to run the ball. We couldn’t really ever take over the line of scrimmage, and that is something that we usually do. That was a negative for us, but overall, the defense had four picks, three by Clark (Phillips III), a pick-six, and another one that set up a touchdown. RJ Hubert’s interception put us in a great scoring position, so the defense gave us a lot of big plays, and if you intercept four footballs, you are going to win most of the time. I think this football team took another step forward this week and we just got to keep doing that. That’s the key, and if you want to win a championship, you have to get better week after week.”

On what helped the run defense turn around in the second

“Better technique with the front and more downhill with the backers not catching blocks and putting them to the punch and just being more active versus the run.”

On Clark Phillips III

“He has exceptional quickness and speed, first of all. He is not the biggest guy, but he is built well and is physical when he needs to be, but speed and quickness is his big thing, along with film study. There is nobody that studies more films and Clark and that leads to big plays. The more film you study, the more big plays you’re going to make.”

On concern over the run game

“I am very concerned. We had too many linebacker run-throughs. That was the real key when you are coming off the combination blocks, you have to have your eyes up and see the linebackers, and we weren’t doing a good job of seeing that. Consequently, they were getting into the backfield, especially early in the game, and being disruptive. We have to do a better job keeping our heads and eyes up on the combinations and coming off the combinations, and picking off the run-throughs.”

On the biggest positive of the day

“Our efficiency in throwing the football on offense was the biggest positive, but we didn’t throw for a ton like I thought. I thought we had thrown for more — we were 200 yards-ish, but it was a very effective and efficient 200 yards with no drops and protecting the football. I don’t believe we turned the ball over, so that was a big positive, and then the big plays on defense. We are an opportunistic defense, and anytime you are plus-four in the turnover margin, it’s a good thing.”

On Rising spreading the football around without Brant Kuithe

“That is what needs to happen, and that is what we talked about all week. It is going to be a concerted effort by a bunch of people to pick up the slack for Brant, not just one guy. Everybody’s got to elevate and I believe we did that today.”

On Rising running the ball

“I wouldn’t say it was too much today. I don’t know how many times he ran it. A few of them were escapes on drop-back passes, and you know that’s obviously not designed, but he is designed to carry the ball six to eight times a game. The big thing is not to take big hits at the end of the run. He has a great running ability, and we need that week in and week out.”