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Matt Piper and Kyle Goon
Matt Piper and Kyle Goon cover University of Utah sports teams for The Salt Lake Tribune. Matt Piper is on twitter at @matthew_piper, Kyle Goon is on twitter at @kylegoon

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Big plays a must for Utes

The need for longer gains was the big topic of Tuesday's press conference with the Utes. Coach Kyle Whittingham said both quarterback Jordan Wynn and the run game needed to produce bigger plays.

Out of the 76 plays the Utes ran, 14 were for gains of 10-yards or more. Wynn's longest throw was a 23-yarder to Jake Murphy in the second quarter while White's longest run went for 28 yards in the third quarter.

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"We've got to connect more on deep balls and stretch the defense and loosen things up," Whittingham said. "To put together 10, 12, 14 or even 21-play drives is hard to do all the time."

Wynn shouldered a lot of the blame.

"It's a matter of me throwing it better or the wideouts doing something with it when they get the ball," he said. "I missed two to DeVonte (Christopher) that would have counted as big plays but collectively as an offense we have to find more ways to get the ball down field."

The biggest miss in Wynn's mind was of course that first quarter interception on a pass intended for Dres Anderson.

"If I had thrown it five or 10 yards further I would have been two for two with a touchdown instead of one for two with a pick," he said. "That could have been a huge momentum swing but I left it short."

Interestingly, in talking to passing game coordinator Aaron Roderick Monday, he put the blame for that interception on Anderson, not Wynn.

When asked what Anderson has to do to improve his game, Roderick used that mistake as an example.

"We need to see him compete for the ball when it is up in the air," he said. "That ball the other night should have been caught. We need him to catch that ball, not just break it up. But that was the only mistake he made that night. He had a solid game and he is on his way to being a good player."

As for Friday's game in Logan, the Utes say they are taking the Aggies seriously even if they have won the last 12 meetings between the teams.

Defensive end Joe Kruger said he knows the Aggies will be motivated since Utah is a member of the Pac-12 now.

"Now more than ever they are going to want to beat us," he said.

Whittingham said Utah State quarterback Chuckie Keeton's ability to both run and throw the ball presents a "headache" for defensive coordinators.

Keeton was 22-of-25 for 304 yards and two touchdowns in the Aggies' 34-3 win over SUU.

"He is a tremendous athlete with a good arm who moves well in the pocket," Whittingham said.

Whittingham said he hasn't seen much of Keeton, but noted from watching film he has improved since last year when the Aggies nearly upset Auburn.

"He has become a little more poised and effective each week as his career has unfolded," he said.

- Lya Wodraska

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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