Utes head into Pac-12 play with confidence
Despite several deficiencies that must be addressed, from the run game to the special teams play, the Utah Utes were feeling fairly good about themselves Monday.
Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said he was most pleased with the way his team fought through adversity to beat BYU.
"They did an outstanding job throughout the week and it was a complete team effort," he said. "It got us back on the winning track and gave us some momentum going into Pac-12 play this week."
Whittingham no longer gives injury reports, but said the Utes should have running back John White and safety Eric Rowe back on the field for the ASU game in addition to Brian Blechen. Blechen, who missed the first three games while serving a suspension for breaking team rules, is slotted to start at strong safety ahead of Quade Chappuis who has been filling in for Blechen.
Getting White back should help a run game that suffered in his absence Saturday. Whittingham credited quarterback Jon Hays and the way he orchestrated the offense for making up for the deficiencies.
"His ability to throw saved us," Whittingham said. "We were not as efficient, we were abysmal, in the run game."
The Utes managed just 49 yards rushing on 35 carries as a team.
As for Hays, expect to see a lot more of him in the future. The Utes had talked about working freshman Travis Wilson into games more and more, but Wilson was a non-factor against BYU, losing a yard on two carries.
The combination of an improved Hays and the lack of impact in Wilson's package has the Utes re-thinking their plans for Wilson.
"It has been disappointing what we haven't gotten out of that package," Whittingham said. "I'm not putting that on the players. It's structuring that for Travis and putting him in the situations that let him succeed."
As for the race for the Pac-12 south title, Whittingham admitted he has a different view following USC's loss to Stanford Saturday.
"It changes the dynamic of things," he said. "It puts a much different spin on it. Everybody assumed SC would run the table. It does make it interesting and we'll see how things play out."
Receiver Reggie Dunn, who had six catches for 56 yards Saturday, said the team has a new outlook.
"We all feel pretty confident," he said. "We're all confident in each other and focused on the task at hand."
Hays acknowledged the Utes have to do more to get the run game going.
"We have a good group of guys, playmakers on this team," he said. "We have to execute better."
- Lya Wodraska
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