Utah coach Kyle Whittingham continues to maintain that Utah’s third-down problems are more of a product of inefficiency on first and second down than issues with converting third downs themselves.
But that didn’t stop him from harping on the issue in practice this week, with the Utes spending three times the usual time on third downs.
“We’ll see if it translates,” he said. “We’re definitely paying attention to it and are trying to get it solved.”
The Utes, who were 2 of 13 on third downs against UCLA and are 9 of 40 combined in their last three games, are working to find ways to make the offense more efficient, Whittingham said.
“It’s one of our primary issues right now,” he said. “We’ve had too many third and longs and we have to be better on first and second down and get them more manageable. That is a huge part of our focus the last three days and we are trying to remedy that.”’
Utah tight end Jake Murphy’s wrist surgery went well, according to Whittingham. The tight end will be out about 12 weeks, a timeline that effectively ends his season unless the Utes qualify for a bowl and he is able to play.
“If he’s able to get back for the tail end, that would be a bonus,” Whittingham said.
Going for No. 5
Receiver Dres Anderson could match David Reed’s 2009 achievement of five 100-yard games in a row if he hits that bench mark against the Cardinal.
While it would be an achievement, Anderson said he isn’t counting his stats.
“Every game I just want to come out and make as many plays as possible and whatever the outcome is, it is,” he said. “Everybody gets yards being out there. I just want to make plays.”
Anderson is tied for the national lead in receptions of 50 yards or more with four.
Former Ute passes away
The Utes received some sad news with the passing of former Ute Steve McKane, who suffered an apparent heart attack Tuesday at the age of 38.
McKane, who was serving as the coach Florence H.S. in Arizona, was an offensive lineman for the Utes from 1997-2000.
His career was cut short with knee injuries, but he was known for his leadership and hustle. As a senior, he played in just two games before suffering a season-ending knee injury, but coaches still voted him to honorable mention all-conference team.
Before joining the Utes, McKane excelled at Mesa H.S. in Arizona, earning Blue Chip All-American honors and was a member of the National Honor Society.
A memorial fund has been established through Wells Fargo Bank to help his family called the Stephen R. McKane Memorial fund, with account number 234790454.